Accurate, timely and transparent forest monitoring is relevant to several international policy processes such the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals; in particular keeping progress on progress to reduce deforestation and degradation and enhance forest stocks and functioning. Of particular in there is tropical forest biomass as a crucial component of global carbon emission estimations while large uncertainties on the carbon stocks and carbon stock changes due to human activities remain. Robust estimates require accurate and effective methods to estimate in-situ above ground biomass (AGB) and present methods rely on allometric models that are highly uncertain for many tropical countries and for large tropical trees in particular.
In a recent meeting in November 2016 of the Global Observations Forest Initiatives (GFOI), a first synthesis of the potential TLS for supporting country carbon monitoring activities, including:
- Improve allometry for tropical trees, reduce underestimation of biomass for large trees given that many countries are using Chave’s equation
- Increase transparency and traceability, and ability to produce long-term records of change in canopies and wood damage
- Better data to calibrate remote sensing based estimation, plot scale relationships between height, structure and biomass – research topic
- Interest for TLS to be tested in/with countries
- TLS community effort to make use of already acquired data across tropics to provide more empirical evidence
Despite that potential, the uptake of such technologies into national and international reporting requires additional steps and actions, including:
- Demonstration on how TLS can contribute to national inventory efforts with countries
- Development of community-consensus good practice guidelines based on experiences
- Evolve TLS processing to open source solutions
- Training materials and capacity development efforts
A particular interest of international initiatives is in methods to assess the type and impacts of forest change and to enhance transparency and increase stakeholder participation. These are areas where TLS might contribute even more in the future.