The conservation of tropical forests requires international partnerships that provide political and financial contracts. For this purpose, accurate and near-real-time monitoring of forest degradation, carbon stocks and biodiversity is crucial. Until now, conventional satellite imagery has been unable to quantify the area and dynamics of tropical forest degradation, which is bigger than the deforested area, and to estimate forest carbon stocks and stocks changes.
Recent scientific advances, with major contributions from European teams, have shown that by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with high resolution satellites and airborne images combined with LiDAR observations and ground inventory data, environmental integrity of tropical forests can be tracked down to tree level.
The OFVi's logic, agreed at the One Forest Summit in Libreville in March 2023, is to collect and collate high quality data at the landscape scale to provide robust calibration and validation data for novel remote sensing technologies and AI to produce better maps of deforestation and forest degradation and resulting carbon emissions.
This initiative is at the heart of the Positive Conservation Partnerships (PCPs); it identifies areas that are vital to preserve in priority.
It focuses on five axes:
- Understanding forest carbon and biodiversity at the landscape scale
- Promoting campaigns to evaluate the carbon balance of tropical forests
- Remote sensing and AI
- Mapping carbon and biodiversity
- Capacity building and training
These objectives are supported by a European consortium of research and academic organisations that have a tradition of collaboration with major forest countries and are leaders in the field of remote sensing, carbon flux and biodiversity monitoring of tropical forests. These teams also collaborate internationally, with leading space agencies and universities that could participate in the expansion of the consortium.
The OFVi initiative will be led by a Governing Board under the auspices of the donor institutions and participating forest countries. An international Scientific Advisory Board will be established (including scientific leaders from the Congo Basin Climate Science Initiative, C-TREES and GEOTREES) and will review the work plan.
At the One Forest Summit in March 2023, a declaration of intent was proposed by the scientific organisations and agencies willing to contribute to the development of the initiative.
The signatories of the declaration of intent are preparing a three-year action plan for each pillar, with a list of deliverables and milestones, a governance structure and a funding plan.