The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is Germany’s leading provider of international cooperation services. It supports the German Government in more than 130 countries in a wide-ranging portfolio of topics in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. In Madagascar, GIZ is invested in several projects related to environmental protection and climate change adaptation. Its Programme de Protection et d’Exploitation Durable des Ressources Naturelles (PAGE 2), aims, among other measures, to reduce pressure on remaining natural forests by establishing fast-growing forest plantations on degraded land. About 3000 ha of these plantations are located in the Ambilobe district in northern Madagascar and are managed to produce much sought-after charcoal.
Plantation development must be monitored in a cost-effective way. In the first few years, plantations are in danger of failing due to multiple potential stressors such as bush fires, dry spells, grazing animals, and harvesting before due time. Traditionally, monitoring is carried out via terrestrial inventories of a subset of pre-selected sites. Results from monitoring allow GIZ to counter-act in time by ramping up protection or re-planting in case plantations do not develop as expected.
With the help of Forest Flux and its products, a state-of-the-art approach for mapping crown-cover in forest plantations was developed and applied to two areas in Ambilobe, covering about 800 ha of plantations each. The benefits for GIZ were evident: they received the result quicker and saved the expenses for field staff.
Moreover: instead of receiving an overall percentage of planting-success across the entire area based on samples, the system provides spatial data allowing GIZ to track where issues in plantation development have occurred. The new approach also offers potential cost savings for GIZ. Monitoring results enable project managers to quickly react to causes of plantation failure. This can potentially improve the outcomes of PAGE and similar projects such as the Programme de la Lutte Anti Erosive (PLAE) by the German development Bank KfW, which also receives technical support by Forest Flux consortium member UNIQUE land use. For example, due to the additional information that can be obtained from remote-sensing data, the Forest Flux team could demonstrate that fires were the primary source for plantation failures.
GIZ is an important pilot user for the Forest Flux project as they are implementing similar projects across the world. Forest Flux products could be used to scale and standardize remote-sensing based monitoring of afforestation and reforestation efforts.