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Thursday, 08 August 2013
The TransparentForests feasibility study is now at the half-way stage


Over the last three years, FSC has participated in a series of trials, financed by the European Space Agency, to assess the potential value and utility of satellite remote sensing to strengthen and increase the quality and transparency of the forest certification process. Having satisfied itself that this technology would be of significant value, FSC initiated the TransparentForests project, which is now at the half-way stage.

The project is designing a system based on a Geographic Information System (GIS) that will help certifiers and ASI in their field inspections and provide an easily accessible database for all FSC stakeholders. It will use boundary data provided by forest managers, combined with an independent source of optical and radar satellite imagery, to produce maps of land cover types combined with the boundaries of management sub-units, including conservation areas.

The system will also map and measure the main annual changes in land cover types, including roads and buildings. This will be especially helpful in large and/or intensively management forests, which are difficult to audit thoroughly from the ground, providing an overall improvement in the transparency and credibility of FSC certification.

The first steps in the feasibility study were to determine the user needs of FSC stakeholders and develop the design parameters of the TransparentForests software package. This system integrates Earth Observation (EO) data and GPS technologies for in-situ sampling and navigation in an Open Source GIS system. These steps have been completed, after extensive consultations with Certification Bodies, FSC, ASI and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

We are now finding out what kinds of equipment stakeholders already use during audits and inspections. If you have not already done so, you are urged to complete the relevant survey below: 

Certification Bodies:
Certificate Holders:

It would be very helpful to get as many responses as possible, so please take the 15 minutes needed to provide us your feedback.

The next step will be to develop a mock-up system, and test it to verify the technical and operational effectiveness and the financial viability of the package and its services. We will run a series of webcasts with stakeholders to demonstrate the mock-up, assess the potential benefits and test its feasibility for different users. We will be seeking widespread inputs at this stage and you can log your interest in this, via the surveys above. Next year, we expect to carry out field trials in a wide variety of forestry conditions.

More information is available through the following links:

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