SilvaCarbon Newsletter: June 2020  
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and continues to disrupt daily life both personal and professionally. Our thoughts are with those who have been directly impacted, including and especially members of the SilvaCarbon international community. SilvaCarbon leadership agencies are monitoring the evolving situation and taking ongoing steps to ensure the health and safety of program staff and partners. 

While a number of program activities have been or will be postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, SilvaCarbon remains committed to providing targeted technical support that meets our partners’ forest monitoring capacity needs. We are embracing the use of virtual communication tools and platforms in order to conduct activities remotely when possible, and exploring options and opportunities to provide technical support in locations where internet availability is limited. In-person activities will resume once it is safe to do so, as determined on a country-by-country basis, taking into account official guidance as well as direct input from staff and partners on the ground. We look forward to continued collaboration, in whichever format it may take, during these difficult times. 

Africa  -  Asia  -  Latin America and Caribbean -  Global


Republic of the Congo – Training in GHG Accounting 

Virtual / May-July 2020

SilvaCarbon is supporting targeted online training for technical partners in the Republic of the Congo (ROC) responsible for preparing the country’s Third National GHG Communication. Members of the national Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) Cell and the Technical Working Group on Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) are completing two courses provided by the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute: IPCC 501, which covers fundamental processes and techniques for compiling an inventory of GHG emissions and removals; and IPCC 541, which covers emission sources and removal sinks and estimation methodologies for the AFOLU sector based on 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines. Contact: René Siwe, 



Vietnam – National Forest Inventory Implementation

Virtual / March-May 2020

National forest inventory (NFI) experts from the Vietnam Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI) have been engaged in a series of remote exchanges with SilvaCarbon focused on finalizing the country’s current NFI cycle (NFI5) and preparing for the next cycle (NFI6). This has included discussions around improved methodologies for sample stratification and a review of FIPI’s guidelines for collecting and analyzing data from a network of ecological research plots. Next steps will include the delivery of a series of virtual events in support of NFI6 cycle preparations. Contact: Marija Kono,

Lao PDR and Nepal – Improving Emission Estimates for Forest Degradation

Virtual / March-May 2020

In late 2019 SilvaCarbon collaborated with partners from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal to test several open-source methods for improving estimates of emissions from forest degradation. Subsequently, SilvaCarbon has been working with the Nepal Forest Research and Training Centre (FRTC) to design a field data protocol for estimating emissions from forest fires, and with the Lao PDR Forest Inventory and Planning Division (FIPD) and F-REDD program to develop a step-wise approach for continuously improving estimates over time. Next steps in this work stream will include: 1) validation of the proposed approach in Lao PDR, 2) continued collaboration on the field data protocol for Nepal, and 3) a webinar to share updates on forest degradation mapping among other countries in the region. Contact: Marija Kono, 

Nepal – Forest Mapping Collaboration with the University of Maryland and Training-of-Trainers

Virtual / May 2020 

As part of ongoing SilvaCarbon-supported collaboration between the University of Maryland (UMD) Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) team and Nepal’s FRTC, improved tree cover change and tree cover height models for Nepal were delivered and reviewed by FRTC. UMD is currently developing a detailed manual, tailored for FRTC, to gradually move toward a training-of-trainers (TOT) approach to implementing the GLAD forest mapping system in Nepal. A webinar will be organized later in 2020 to review the manual. This activity is implemented in close collaboration with the SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya hub to ensure complementary with the data used in the Regional Land Cover Monitoring System (RLCMS). Contact: Marija Kono, 

Regional – Forest Landscape Restoration Monitoring Tool Development

Virtual / Ongoing

Since January 2020, FAO, SERVIR, and SilvaCarbon have been developing a tool for identifying optimal areas for restoration and assessing restoration impacts. The tool is an open-source module within FAO’s online forest monitoring platform, the System for Earth Observations, Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL). Through a collaboration with Peking and Duke University, the tool will also integrate geospatial layers for socio-economic indicators. A beta version of the tool will be ready in June for testing and feedback from key counterparts throughout the Mekong region, and a webinar will follow to present the interface to other partners. Contact: Marija Kono, 


Latin America and the Caribbean

Costa Rica – Publications on National Monitoring System

Virtual / Ongoing

The Climate Fellows and SilvaCarbon programs, in close collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have played a significant role in supporting the design of Costa Rica’s National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring System (SIMOCUTE), which is now entering an operational phase. A number of publications were recently released in relation to the system, including the following: 
  • A fact sheet on SIMOCUTE released by FAO (in English), available here
  • A dedicated issue of the environmental journal published by the National University of Costa Rica, with an introduction by the Minister of Environment and Energy (in Spanish), available here
  • A news announcement about SIMOCUTE released by FAO (in Spanish), available here
Contact: Randy Hamilton, 

Panama – Collect Earth Online Training

Virtual / May-June 2020

Panama is preparing to visually interpret land use from a set of over 9,000 sample plots across a time period of about 25 years using Collect Earth Online (CEO). Change data obtained from this exercise will be used to develop the country's forest reference emissions level. A series of four 2-hour virtual trainings were conducted to train participants on the administration of CEO institutions and accounts, how to create projects, setting up Geo-Dash, how to interpret the plots, and various aspects of quality assurance and quality control. In addition to the trainings, several informal coordination and information sharing calls were held addressing analysis and overall design of the monitoring system. Contact: Randy Hamilton,; Andrew Lister,

Regional – Summary of 16th GFOI Regional Workshop in the Americas

Fort Collins, Colorado, USA / January 21-24, 2020

The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) held its 16th Regional Workshop in the Americas at the US Geological Survey (USGS) Fort Collins Science Center in January, with participation from SilvaCarbon and GFOI representatives and country partners from across the region. An animated workshop summary, fact sheet, and other information about the workshop are available here. Contact: Sylvia Wilson, 



Collect Earth Online Manual Released

Virtual / Ongoing

A Project Development Manual for the Collect Earth Online (CEO) open-source satellite image viewing and land change interpretation system is now available on the CEO website. The manual was developed through collaboration among SilvaCarbon, the Geospatial Technology and Applications Center (GTAC) of the US Forest Service (USFS), FAO, and the SERVIR Global program as part of an ongoing effort to provide intuitive training materials for current and potential new users of CEO. Additional refinements to the materials are underway. Contact: Sasha Gottlieb, 

Improving Sample-Based Estimation for REDD+

Virtual / May-June 2020

GFOI sponsored a series of three webinars convening international experts on sample-based area estimation to address a number of issues faced by countries currently using the methodology. A small team from FAO and SilvaCarbon conducted interviews to identify challenges, extract lessons learned, and identify gaps from the experiences of more than 15 countries. A subset of these issues were presented and discussed during the three webinars, which led to the joint development of good practice guidance for sample-based estimation. The FAO and SilvaCarbon team will lead the development of a white paper, with expert contributions, focused on providing improved, consolidated, and practical guidance on using sample-based area estimation for measuring REDD+ activity data, building on earlier guidance developed by GFOI partners and others. Contact: Randy Hamilton, 

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Cameroon – National Forest Inventory Preparation 

Virtual / June-July 2020

SilvaCarbon, through USFS, is working with Cameroon government partners to finalize the country’s NFI preparation phase. This work will include reviewing and adopting forest inventory guidelines and conducting a field training using FAO 2005 sample plots. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Cameroon – Assessing Forest Degradation

Virtual / July 13-17, 2020

In collaboration with Boston University and Google Earth Engine (GEE), SilvaCarbon is planning a virtual training for Cameroon geospatial technicians focused on the detection of forest degradation using remote sensing, as part of the ongoing development of the national forest monitoring system. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Cameroon – Land Cover and Change Map Production

Yaounde, Cameroon / July 2020

Following three months of virtual support provided to Cameroon geospatial technicians focused on the production of a 2000-2018 land cover map in collaboration with UMD, the Cameroon Observatory of Climate Change will organize a technical exchange to present the results and introduce the design of a national atlas of land cover and land cover change, based on data gathered from the mapping process. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Republic of the Congo – Training Workshop on R

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / July 2020

SilvaCarbon will support targeted training for members of the MRV Cell in ROC on R, a free software environment and programming language for statistical computing and graphics. This training is envisioned as a prerequisite for a subsequent training on the OpenForis Calc tool, to support the analysis of national forest inventory data. Contact: René Siwe,

Republic of the Congo – Establishment of a Database Management System

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / July-August 2020

SilvaCarbon will support the ROC National Center for Forest Inventory and Zoning (CNIAF) to establish a system to acquire, store, and share information and datasets relevant to the national forest monitoring system. This will include an accessible and secure framework to share data among CNIAF staff and between CNIAF and other stakeholders. The effort will be complemented by support from other programs. Contact: René Siwe,

Republic of the Congo – Assessing Land Use Change 

Virtual / August 2020

In collaboration with Coalition for Rainforest Nations, SilvaCarbon will support ROC to generate IPCC land use change statistics for the period of 2010-2020 using the Collect Earth Online (CEO) system. The resulting data will be used to estimate GHG emissions for the country’s Third National GHG Communication. This activity was initially scheduled for March 2020 and was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts are underway to organize a virtual training to consolidate the methodological approach, which will be followed by image interpretation. Contact: René Siwe,


Vietnam – Implementation of the GLAD Forest Mapping System

Hanoi, Vietnam / June-July 2020

In collaboration with FIPI and SERVIR-Mekong, SilvaCarbon will deliver a TOT session focused on the implementation of the GLAD system for forest and land cover change mapping in Vietnam. The main objectives of the training are to institutionalize the GLAD methodology within FIPI and to support the harmonization of land cover change mapping at the national level. Training participants will include representatives from Sub-FIPI offices and from the National Remote Sensing Department. The TOT will take place in June / July 2020 and will adhere to Government of Vietnam regulations for public meetings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact: Vo Viet Cuong,

Vietnam – Updating and Improving the National GHG Inventory

Virtual / July 2020

In support of Vietnam’s Third Biennial Update Report (BUR3), SilvaCarbon will facilitate remote technical support from experts at Colorado State University for Vietnam’s Department for Climate Change. The support will include a review of the BUR3 results from land use categories, with a specific focus on addressing data gaps in the agricultural sector. Contact: Vo Viet Cuong, 

Cambodia – Agricultural Crops Mapping 

Virtual / June-August 2020

In 2019, SilvaCarbon, the SERVIR Mekong hub, FAO, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility began a collaboration with the Cambodia Department of Agricultural Resource Management and the Ministry of Environment to improve the mapping of agricultural commodities through a series of introductory trainings. To continue these efforts and initiate the development of maps for several key commodities, the crops mapping team will reconvene in June and July for two webinars. The webinars will focus on: 1) reference data, photo-interpretation protocols, and selecting a pilot province, and 2) starting to validate the models. Contact: Marija Kono, 

Latin America and the Caribbean

Regional – E-Learning Courses on Sample-based Estimation of Area and Map Accuracy

Virtual / June 2020

Boston University, in partnership with SilvaCarbon through USGS, is developing e-learning courses to facilitate remote training on key forest monitoring topics for SilvaCarbon country partners. The first course focuses on sample-based estimation of area and map accuracy, and will be delivered to partners in Paraguay and Guatemala at the end of June as beta testing, with broader distribution expected in July. Contact: Sylvia Wilson,   


Update to GFOI Methods and Guidance Documentation

Virtual / July-August 2020

The GFOI Methods and Guidance Documentation (MGD) is a widely-used source of IPCC-compliant methods and guidance materials for REDD+ Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV). Together with GFOI’s REDDcompass online platform, these materials provide a user-friendly approach to guide countries through the complex process of developing a national forest monitoring system, including needs assessment, system design, and implementation. GFOI partners including SilvaCarbon have been collaborating to update the MGD, taking into account new international reporting requirements and guidance as well as new expertise and experiences gained by countries and international partners. The MGD 3.0 update is anticipated to be released soon, starting with an English version in July followed by French and Spanish versions in subsequent months. GFOI will communicate the launch of the update, and well as a series of upcoming webinars and other events to be conducted in lieu of the GFOI 2020 Plenary, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact:  


Angular-Based Radiometric Slope Correction for Sentinel-1 on Google Earth Engine

This publication is coauthored by SilvaCarbon-supported partners at  Wageningen University working to develop radar-based early alerts for detecting forest loss. The paper presents a new method for correcting slopes when analyzing radar data within Google Earth Engine.

About SilvaCarbon 

SilvaCarbon is a multi-agency technical cooperation program of the US Government to strengthen the capacity of selected tropical countries for measuring, monitoring, and reporting forest and terrestrial carbon. Agencies that have contributed to SilvaCarbon include the US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of State (DOS), US Forest Service (USFS), US Geological Survey (USGS), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Smithsonian Institution. Program funding is provided by USAID and DOS, and program implementation is led by USFS and USGS.

SilvaCarbon is also the primary US Government contribution to the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), a body of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO). SilvaCarbon co-leads the GFOI capacity-building component together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

For more information visit the SilvaCarbon website at
USAID, US Dept. of State, USFS, USGS, EPA, NASA, NOAA, Smithsonian
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