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Astrium and the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement) sign an agreement to provide satellite imagery to protect forests in the Congo Basin

Paris, December 3, 2010 – France honours its commitment made last year in Copenhagen to provide high resolution satellite imagery to favour sustainable forest management in the Congo Basin countries.

Through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), France will finance the provision of SPOT satellite imagery to central African countries to help them prepare the future REDD mechanism.

The contract between the AFD and the GEO-Information division of Astrium Services marks the beginning of a broad initiative to map the entire Congo Basin, the second largest forest in the world. Financed by the AFD, this project is implemented by a consortium of institutional partners including the French Space Agency – Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Institut Géographique National (IGN) and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).

This initiative will make SPOT images available to administrations, public institutions, and NGOs working on sustainable forest governance in the Congo Basin countries. SPOT archive imagery dating from 1990 will be used to establish baseline reference maps over the zone. Additional programming campaigns to acquire fresh datasets over the years will track the evolution of forest cover to monitor REDD+ future commitments.

Patrick Le Roch, Divisional Managing Director of Astrium Services GEO-Information declared, “SPOT satellite imagery is the ideal resolution for forest monitoring because it combines broad coverage and high two metre resolution. We bring the most appropriate imagery products, expertise and technology to the REDD+ mechanism. Our data acquisition tools bring essential added value for measuring and verifying forest cover changes necessary for REDD+ programs.”

For Dov Zerah, Managing Director of the Agence Française de Développement “Thanks to the provision of top level French technologies, our partners in the Congo Basin will be able to use the most significant tools as they reinforce sustainable forest management. The AFD has been a pioneer in financing sustainable forest governance encouraged by central African countries and today is very much involved in the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism.”