On May 23, 2022, the project " African Forest Disturbance and Its Effects on Carbon Sink", led by Professor Ronggao Liu from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, was launched virtually with participation of international and Chinese experts. The project is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under the joint agreement between NSFC and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and will be jointly implemented in 2022-2026 in cooperation with the UNEP-International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UENP-IEMP) and other African partners.
The kick-off meeting was chaired by Professor Xiaohan Liao, Deputy Director General of Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Linxiu Zhang, Director of the UNEP-IEMP, delivered an opening remark. Dr. Zhang expressed that UNEP will assist and support the project in the science-policy interface, joint capacity building and technology transfer, and bridging South-South cooperation. She also welcomed this project to provide invaluable contributions towards the digital transformation in developing countries as identified by UNEP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-25, the implementation of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and the database of the World Environment Situation Room.
Professor Ronggao Liu, Co-PI of this project, introduced the project objectives, work plan and related progress. This project will analyze the dynamics of forest in Africa and the drivers of disturbances, and assess carbon dynamics under disturbances. It will share a series of forest monitoring datasets and develop African forests remote sensing monitoring systems for application and promotion in African pilot countries (e.g. in Ghana, Madagascar, Kenya etc.). The project will overcome the monitoring technical challenges such of surface and mountain shadow, optimize the algorithm to finely depict the tree cover in savanna ecosystems, and reflect forest cover changes in Africa.
The invited review panel made valuable comments and suggestions for the project implementation and next steps. These invited members are Professor Qiao Wang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Mr. Zhongxin Chen from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Professor Jingming Chen, fellow of the Royal Canadian Academy of Sciences, Ms Xia Li, Director of the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Mr. Xingliang Chen, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, and Mr. Lianming Sun, Director of the Africa Office of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization.
The expert panel believes that the project is forward-looking, has solid science foundation and great practical value for African countries. They gave relevant suggestions from the perspectives of remote sensing monitoring accuracy and ground verification, data products sharing platform, China-Africa cooperation policy context, and the mechanism for forest remote sensing monitoring system application.