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News release

New assessment tool for forest restoration

Yokohama, Japan, 13 February 2001

A forest management tool under development by ITTO will speed up the task of identifying forests in need of restoration.

Building on the success of an earlier ITTO initiative, the project (coded PD 60/99) is developing software that eliminates the drudgery involved in updating forest management maps, conducting time-series analyses of forest status, prioritising targets for rehabilitation and formulating cost-effective budgets.

At a steering committee meeting held in Tokyo on 24 January 2001, the project implementation team from the Japan Overseas Forestry Consultants Association (JOFCA) demonstrated an upgraded semi-expert system for the digital analysis of satellite imagery data. When complete, this tool will combine satellite data analysis and geo-referencing in a single software package. This will enable planners to classify forests based on the percent of canopy density, automatically compute the number of hectares in each canopy density class, and pinpoint the location of priority target sites - all in a single, digitized operation.

The software development agenda includes combining spectral imagery with satellite radar data to deal with the problems of cloud cover, haze and topographic shadow. If this technically challenging goal is realized, the new package will add a new dimension to remote sensing technology applications in forestry.

The project enhances capabilities already built into the FCD Mapper Version 1.0 developed under ITTO project PD 13/97. The new software, called FCD Mapper Version 2.0, will be produced in CD-ROM format compatible with Windows-type personal computers, and distributed on request to ITTO member countries.

In developing the technology, scientists from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are working in close collaboration with their JOFCA colleagues. Their participation helps ensure that country-specific concerns are integral to the development process. It also demonstrates the benefits of teamwork among ITTO member countries in the pursuit of sustainable forest management.

The project will be completed by the end of 2002. For more information contact: Susumu Miyatake, jofca@mxl.alpha-web.ne.jp