Annual Report 2015: Capacity building

Community Forest Groups Use Satellite Imagery to Monitor Ecosystems 

Villagers in Nepal are joining the space age by learning simple ways of using satellite technology to monitor the health of nearby forests and watersheds. 

Across the country, local people have long helped to manage and keep track of the status of their area’s forests by participating in community forest user groups. They walk the forests, take field measurements, log what they see, and provide crucial on-the-ground knowledge. But they can’t get everywhere, examine data over time, or have the comparative scientific information that satellites can provide from the sky – just as satellites can’t provide the close-up human perspective that people who live around forests possess.

Efforts are now being made to combine space-age tools and grassroots skill sets. Members of 17 community forest user groups in the Khayar Khola watershed in Chitwan District were trained in 2015 to read satellite imagery, gain a basic understanding of 3D visualization, and compare satellite images with ground photographs to confirm and expand upon findings to improve the depth of monitoring. Communities can use the information to manage forests in a more sustainable, effective way.