Capacity building and satellite data access for forest monitoring in Africa

The GEOFORAFRI programme is an initiative of the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), coordinated by IRD (Research Institute for Development). The programme aims to facilitate the adoption of earth observation techniques and ensure the methodological and technological know-how within Central and Western African countries, enabling local institutions to carry out forest cover monitoring according to the international guidelines required to participate and benefit from the REDD+ mechanism.

The opportunity to participate in defining the future REDD+ mechanisms will in fact depend, among others, on the capacity of African countries to:

  • Produce reliable and transparent information on past and current levels of their GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, using robust methods and measurement techniques;
  • Measure the level of GHG emissions related to future changes in forest cover (MRV systems);
  • Identify policies and measures to be taken to reduce these emissions.

In this context, earth observation satellite data has been recognised as an essential tool for the management of natural resources, particularly for issues on forest monitoring against the background of negotiations on climate change and the REDD+ mechanism.

The GEOFORAFRI project is divided into five components:

1. Ensure the provision of satellite data and processing tools in a sustainable way, based on the the needs of African countries in achieving, among other things, monitoring of their forests in accordance with the requirements of the REDD+ mechanism;

2. Strengthen the technical capacities to use data from public institutions as well as private sector and civil society that have developed skills in this area and are committed to contribute to the production of information needed to complete the monitoring of forest cover;

3. Support the production of historical forest maps (reference period) in several African countries in relation to their needs for the establishment of a forest monitoring system (MRV) as a complement to existing initiatives and programmes in this area;

4. Support the definition and implementation of applied research projects in the use of earth observation data and the structuring of a network of research institutions in promoting North-South and South-South partnership;

5. Contribute to the coordination of initiatives in the area of  satellite data use in a REDD+ perspective in African countries and to encourage the participation of these countries to major international programmes, including the GEO and the GMES programmes for Africa.

Financed by Coordinated by

GAF Activities

Completion of historical forest maps for RoC and Training of local staff

Component 3 of the GEOFORAFRI programme supports existing forest mapping initiatives in the Congo Basin and West African countries. GAF AG has been mapping historic forest cover in the Republic of Congo in the context of the European Space Agency financed GSE FM REDD Extension and has thus been selected to benefit from the GEOFORAFRI initiative.

GEOFORAFRIIn the framework of the GSE FM REDD forest cover is mapped for the entire country for the periods 1990 and 2000 using freely available EO data. For the period 2010 approximately one-third (area) of the country is being mapped; comprising the administrative regions of Likouala and Sangha. As a result, forest cover change is being mapped for 1990 – 2000 for the entire country and for the regions Likouala and Sangha for the 2000 – 2010. The geographic extent of the GEOFORAFRI contribution to produce Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change Maps will be the remaining two-thirds of the country, covering approximately 217,000 km2 and representing the administrative regions: Cuvette, Plateaux, Pool, Niari, Bouenza, Lekoumou, and Kouilou.


The following activities will be implemented by GAF with the support of GEOFORAFRI:

  • Development of the reference image database: Acquisition and image pre-processing required to complete the existing database on the entire national territory and the relevant periods
  • Forest cover mapping: Finalization of the national forest cover mapping for 2010 according to recommended international classifications
  • Forest cover change mapping: Finalizing the forest cover change mapping for 2000-2010 and according to recommended international classifications
  • Quality control: Plausibility and consistency check of the obtained products
  • Capacity building: Measures to ensure the involvement of the local partner by strengthening the technical staff of MRV units on the use of remote sensing data.

Initial training in remote sensing including the supply and installation of computer hard- and software for archiving and processing of remote sensing data

This consultation is part of the objectives and activities of the components 1 and 2 of the GEOFORAFRI project on strengthening access and processing of satellite data for forest monitoring capabilities. Strengthening actions included in these project components are primarily intended for technical services and administration in charge of monitoring forests, particularly in the context of preparation for REDD + (MRV units or thematic groups).

GAF consultation includes the following activities to be undertaken in two countries, namely the Republic of Congo and Togo:

  • Provide different training modules to local partners in remote sensing for vegetation/forest monitoring
  • Supply and install of IT hard- and software for archiving and processing of remote sensing data 

The equipment will be installed at the premises identified with the national REDD coordination of the involved countries, respectively in Brazzaville and Lomé. Training will be conducted with local partners in Brazzaville and Lomé.