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Forest Conference Highlights Canadian Earth Observation Satellites Applications

(8 June 2009) Canada has 401.1 millions hectares of forest (10% of the world’s forests; 30% of the world boreal forest), is the world largest exporter of forest products and the world leading exporter of softwood lumber, panels, pulp and newsprint. More than 300 Canadian communities depend on forests as an economic base.

Forest sector issues and concerns about the environment and the economy have sparked a renewed interest at local, national and international levels since the last few years (i.e. carbon, biomass, risks – fires, insects; biodiversity, forest management; sector competitiveness, etc.)

Given the importance of forests to human well-being and their sensitivity to economic development and to global climate change, it is imperative to establish an inventory of forest resources and monitor their status and trends in order to observe and understand the array of processes taking place and to provide information to the decision-makers responsible for their protection and management. Earth Observation (EO) satellites, like RADARSAT-2, can provide a cost-effective means of obtaining information, products and services in vast, barren, and often inaccessible forested areas.

To this end, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Governmental Related Initiatives Program (GRIP), in collaboration with the American Society of American Foresters, American Statistical Association, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, IUFRO – Global Network for Forest Science Cooperation, Natural Resource Canada, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, University of Sherbrooke and the US Forest Service have initiated an international forest conference titled “Extending Forest Inventory and Monitoring over Space and Time”

More than 200 scientists and managers from around the world have gathered in Quebec City, Canada, from May 19th to May 22nd 2009, to discuss, develop and demonstrate the use and applications of EO data for forest inventory and monitoring. This international forum provided participants from scientific, governmental, non-governmental and industrial organizations an overview of EO technologies and methodologies pertaining to forest inventory and monitoring; an opportunity to become acquainted with the latest EO methods and their potential for application and to demonstrate how space based EO measurements can contribute to and support forest inventory and monitoring issues and activities through new and innovative applications.

The CSA Governmental Related Initiatives Program (GRIP) and Strategic Sector Opportunity (SSO) teams have delivered presentations related to specific Government of Canada (GoC) forest priorities (i.e. biodiversity and sustainable forest management; climate change; risks; sector competitiveness) and EO applications. In partnership with other GoC departments and agencies, the CSA-GRIP mandate is to support the development and demonstration of new applications that increase the benefits & effectiveness of GoC services for Canadians through use of EO information and resources. In the forest sector, GRIP has been developing and supporting multiple projects and initiatives, including partnerships with Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and Parks Canada (i.e. wildfire operational systems; insects defoliation monitoring; green house gas reporting for international requirements; mapping of biomass carbon stock; operational satellite-based system for monitoring ecological integrity of Arctic national parks, etc.).

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Source: CSA