SFED trains foresters on Forest monitoring through GIS and Remote Sensing

SFED trg16-20 Nov. 2015, Thimphu: Some 15 foresters from Dzongkhag Forestry Sectors and Territorial Divisions are currently getting trained on using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) to monitor the forests at Hotel RochogPel in Thimphu.

With use of GIS and RS, foresters will be able to monitor forest dynamics real times in terms of forest cover to woody biomass. The technology can also enable foresters to monitor forest boundary, forest strata, canopy density, forest fires, forest degradations, illegal activities, encroachment, illegal mining and several other aspects.

Tashi Wangchuk, Senior Forestry Officer of Social Forestry and Extension Division said that these groups of foresters will monitor changes occurring in forest with time. “Once trained, they will closely monitor the forest in the country and will help to see if forest, over the time, is improving or degrading.” He added that with the technology, foresters need not field validate except for rare cases, rather can be done from the comfort of office. “All they need is an internet connection.”

Tashi Wangchuk also said that the technology is crucial particularly for monitoring community forests (CF). “We generally believe, once CF is handed over to community, forest conditions improves,” Tashi said. “Now, with the training, foresters will be able to validate if the claim is really true.”

He went on to say that application, however, is not restricted to CF only. The technology can be equally useful to monitor government reserved forests, which major chunk of country’s forests is. “With GIS and RS, foresters will be able to have virtual view and images of the forests,” he explained. For instance, the fresh scar in the forests due to mining or forest boundary being compromised can be easily detected through such technology.

“Foresters need not go and measure trees in the field every time to assess forest biomass to determine the forest conditions,” said Senior Lecturer, Ms. de Leeuw Louise Marianne, “It can be easily done by RS and existing allometric equations combined with other softwares.”

In ensuring that the participants are thoroughly trained, they’re engaged in carrying out several hands-on exercises. In addition, the training is a tailor-made. Tailor-made, Tashi explained, is that SFED and University of Twente, Netherlands jointly submitted a training proposal to NUFFIC for funding. The participants were nominated by Department of Forests and Park Services who has basic knowledge on GIS. They will receive progressive trainings divided into five modules. First and third modules are class room teaching in Bhutan where the resource persons will come from University of Twente. Second and fourth modules are distance education (eLearning) for two hours a day, five days a week. The fifth module is the final workshop which will be conducted in Nepal in collaboration with ICIMOD. Even after the training is completed, we’ll continuously keep interacting with each through two-way information exchanges,” he said.

The training is facilitated by Social Forestry and Extension Division (SFED) under Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) in collaboration with University of Twente with funding support from NUFFIC.

Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, ICS

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