Apply Knowledge Globally

Training remote sensing technicians in the Congo

KINSHASA, Congo — Karis Tenneson and Eric Rounds from the Forest Service Geospatial Technology Applications Center spent two weeks from Nov. 13 to 24 in the Democratic Republic of Congo holding trainings on remote sensing techniques for measuring forest cover change. The trainings were organized by the International Programs office with funding from and in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment and the U.S. technical cooperation program SilvaCarbon.

Photo: A woman stands behind two men who are working on computers.
Forest Service trainer Karis Tenneson assists Democratic Republic of Congo Ministry of Environment remote sensing technicians in completing exercises during training on detecting forest cover change. Forest Service photo.

The two trainings were held at the Central African Satellite Forest Observatory and the Congo’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development’s Department of Forest Inventory and Zoning. Technicians from both agencies attended. The first week focused on analyses for estimating biomass carbon using Lidar data and built upon a 2016 visit by Congolese technicians to GTAC in Utah. The second week introduced a platform called SEPAL and trained participants on how to use the platform to conduct analyses to estimate forest cover change.

The Democratic Republic of Congo covers over 900,000 square miles and contains 60 percent of the Congo Basin’s forests, the second largest tropical forest in the world after the Amazon. While there are many initiatives being put in place to sustainably manage these forests, the ability of national and regional actors to map and monitor them is an essential step in identifying critically threatened areas and developing effective resource management solutions. Training technicians from the forestry department build in-house capacity to monitor forest resources nationally while the observatory is a leading regional nonprofit remote sensing firm that supports national forestry and inventory agencies in both the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as in neighboring Republic of Congo. Continuing to increase the capacity of such institutions reinforces knowledge and technology within the region.