Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Global tropical forest monitoring system

The European Commission, DG XI, has published a call for tender for the provision of services with regard to the development of a prototype for a global tropical forest monitoring system.

The sustained international concern for the conservation of tropical forests presents the European Union with a series of challenges. Communications by the Commission, Declarations by the European Council, Resolutions by the European Parliament, the development policy and the Fifth Environmental Action Programme as well as the Fourth Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration and the specific programme on environment and climate have all emphasized the need for the Union to intervene more significantly in the field of tropical forest conservation and policy.

The on-going debate surrounding the definition and implementation of appropriate tropical forest management alternatives still shows that combating deforestation and forest degradation must be supported by better informed perspectives on the state and the role of the forest resources.

Documenting on-going changes in the forests of the world and understanding the nature, cause and impact of such changes thus acquire a particular urgency. At this date, there is no precise and up-to-date information of the present rates of tropical deforestation and, while the major driving forces behind changes in forested areas are known, their spatial impact is poorly understood.

The general objective of the present project is to develop the prototype of an exhaustive information system which will provide the European Commission and the users' community at large with up-to-date information on the state of the forests at various levels of detail around the whole tropical belt.

The following points are considered as major features of the project:

- Exploitation of the most advanced results of earth observation technologies and geographical information systems;
- Incorporation of a data-management structure and analytical tools geared at exploiting the full range of information available on tropical forests;
- Delivery of specific information products at various levels of information (from global to project levels);
- Establishment of dedicated interfaces with the users' community. This interface will address the problem of users' needs and data formatting, accessibility, etc.;
- Develop and use modelling approaches to spatio-temporal trends in forest conversion in order to better understand the processes at play;
- Contribution to the preparation for the exploitation of future earth observation systems relevant to tropical forest monitoring;
- Inclusion of a built-in flexibility in scale and resolution of observation as an essential characteristic of a global observation system which will be responsive to a large spectrum of information needs.

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