Press Release

Forest mapping from space supports Kyoto Protocol

By SpaceRef Editor
December 1, 2003
Filed under , ,

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change delegations from across
the world meet in Milan next week to address the problem of global warming —
and ESA will be there to brief them on how space can assist in this task.

The official title of the gathering is the Ninth Session of the Conference of
the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC
COP 9). It is the latest in a series of UNFCCC meetings where signatories meet
to discuss various aspects of implementing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol as well as
settling on future actions to come.

ESA is hosting a side event on the evening of Wednesday 3 December at the
conference entitled Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) from Space:
Support to monitoring and reporting for Kyoto Protocol Annex I countries.

The Kyoto Protocol has only to be ratified by Russia in order to come into
force. It charges all developed nations — known as Annex I countries — to
monitor and work to reduce their overall carbon dioxide emissions.

A vital part of this is accurately measuring forested areas of their territory.
Forests function as reservoirs of carbon, so if countries plant new forests they
can gain ‘carbon credits’ to offset against their emissions. Conversely, extra
carbon dioxide is released rapidly into the atmosphere if forests are burnt or
cut down.

At the ESA COP 9 side event, ESA Director of Earth Observation JosÈ Achache will
brief attendees on using space to gather environmental intelligence, and
existing national users of ESA services will present their experiences.

ESA commenced working in the area of environmental conventions two years ago,
within activity known as Treaty Enforcement Services using Earth Observation
(TESEO). One of the projects initiated — named TESEO Carbon — studied the
potential of Earth Observation for supporting implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Three workshops, known as TUBES, gathered the convention secretariats and the
users of the TESEO projects in order to guide and consolidate the work of the
projects, which finished at the end of 2002 with a demonstration of some
prototype products and recommendations to ESA.

On the basis of these results, another project, Kyoto Inventory, started at the
end of last year with the aim of developing and demonstrating at a large scale
— full or partial national coverage — information services supporting the
national reporting under the Kyoto Protocol for five European countries: Italy,
Switzerland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.

The first results of this project for selected test sites within the five
countries are now ready. In parallel, another project called Forest Monitoring
initiated in early 2003 within ESA’s programme devoted to Global Monitoring for
Environment Security (GMES) services and equally (although not exclusively)
addressing information services for the Kyoto Protocol reporting, has produced
its first results.

Four users of these last two projects will present at the side event their needs
and motivations, what the projects have provided to them so far, their
evaluations and their perspectives for the future.

Dimitri Lalas, Director of the National Observatory of Athens, and Deputy Head
of the Greek Delegation will commence the briefings, followed by JosÈ Romero of
the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape, then Antonio
Lumicisi of the Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory, concluding with
Joseph RacapÈ of France’s Interministerial Task-Force for Climate Change.

Related articles

* ESA providing Kyoto estimates of French Guianaís tropical forests
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMOBRS1VED_index_0.html

* Earth observation finds a role in environmental treaties
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/ESAON3OED2D_index_0.html

Related links

* UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
http://www.unfccc.int

* COP 9
http://unfccc.int/cop9/

* TESEO
http://styx.esrin.esa.it:5000/teseo/teseo.htm

* GMES
http://earth.esa.int/gmes/

* Forest Monitoring
http://gafweb.gaf.de/gse/

[NOTE: Images supporting this release are available at
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMKPSTZJND_index_1.html ]

SpaceRef staff editor.