A new cooperation era for Mediterranean forests supported by technology

More than 120 Mediterranean representatives are participating in the thematic session on  “The use of new technologies and open data to better support restoration and sustainable management of forests” on Monday 21 March 2022 – 11:00am – 12:30pm (GMT+3) in the frame of the Mediterranean Forest Week taking place in Turkey.

In partnership with the European Environment Agency (EEA), ETC-UMA will be addressing the latest technology and data available on Mediterranean forests and the challenges to reach an harmonized database for the whole region. “With the current technology, we can generate forest maps every year at a level of detail of forest type based on dominant species, with a higher quality than the existing forest maps for the Mediterranean basin. These will help the monitoring of forest extension, disturbances, restoration, management policies and spatial dynamics”, said Virginia García, ETC-UMA remote sensing expert and speaker during the event. “We are covering the need of a map of Mediterranean forest types that will be equally accurate for all countries in the Basin, independently of the funding and efforts they do on National Forest inventories and mapping. With the help of Artificial Intelligence and global Earth Observation data, such as Sentinel-2 and ASTER, there will be a transfer of information from countries with high-quality and updated forest data to other areas that lack timely field inventories”.

The use of different methodologies and systems to collect data is a challenge that can be tackled with the use of satellite images and information at various levels, as it will be showcased during the session by the local case of Al Shouf Cedar Reserve in Lebanon, at national level by the Institut National de Recherches en Génie Rural, Eaux et Forêt (INRGREF) in Tunisia  and the informal network Medforval of 19 High Ecological Value (HEV) forest sites led by Istituto Oikos in Italy.

As the level of information available is uneven for the region, artificial intelligence can assist in covering some knowledge gaps with relevant data. Nevertheless, forest types specific to certain geographical areas and endemic forests still need to be covered with local field inventories.

ETC-UMA and its collaborating partners would like to encourage trans-national and other initiatives to coordinate funding and efforts to create a network of standardized free forest data within and out of the EU, with the impetus provided by the European Environment Agency and ETC-UMA in providing the first knowledge base upon which future restoration and forest conservation initiatives could arise.

To learn more about the Mediterranean Forest Week organized by FAO: https://vii-med.forestweek.org/

To see the agenda of the event use this link.

Get in touch with us: Virginia García

The project EnBiC2Lab supporting this event is cofunded by LifeWatchERIC and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).