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As part of Myanmar's REDD+ Readiness Road process, action plans on National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) and Forest Reference Emission Levels / Forest Reference Levels (FREL/FRLs) have been developed over that last year with support from the UN-REDD Programme through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

In the context of REDD+, forest and land use cover/change information is essential for the development of FREL/FRLs,  analysis of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, REDD+ strategy evaluation and general forest policy planning and evaluation. In order to better manage this information, FAO has developed a low cost and open source software tool, Open Foris Collect Earth, that enables countries to collect and analyze spatial data on land cover and land cover change using satellite images freely available on Google Earth, Google Earth Engine and Bing Maps. 

A two-week hands-on training on Open Foris Collect Earth was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar from 7 – 18 November 2016. The objectives of the training were to follow up and build on on a previous training event held in 2015 and to provide practical training with Myanmar=specific data. The practical training componant focused on accuracy assessment methodology applied on the 2015 real-time forest cover map of Myanmar, which is under development by the Forest Department with support by FAO through a TCP project.

 CCESD MMR Group photo 

20 participants took part in the training, with representatives from Myanmar's Forestry Department, Agriculture Land Management and Statistics Department, Survey Department, Environmental Conservation Department and Forest Research Institute.

During the training, the following topics were discussed:

  1.        General understanding of the software tool Open Foris Collect Earth,
  2.        Use of the Survey Designer in Open Foris Collect
  3.        Application of  Saiku for the analysis of data at national and subnational levels,
  4.        Use of  Google Earth Engine (GEE) and the GEE Playground
  5.        Use of Collect Earth for of Accuracy Assessment of map products

The main results of the training were as follows:

  1. Development of a Myanmar-context specific Collect Earth Survey Design for LULUCF & Accuracy-Assessment.
    Participants learned how to prepare and customize their own survey design and survey plots, so that they will no longer need to work on prepared datasets.
  2. As a practical exercise, 890 out of 2470 TCP plots have been assessed by Collect Earth (for 2 days with 10 groups).
    Survey design is ready as a basis for improved Accuracy Assessments of the 2015 Forest Cover map; Historical land use/change estimation with “year of change” was practiced; and causes of forest disturbance were also assessed for potential analysis of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the future.
  3. Cloud-computing with Google Earth Engine and fusion tables and the upcoming FAO Accuracy Assessment Tool were explored.
    A few officers acquired the basic capacity for further exploration; Trial processing with Cloud-free LANDSAT image with GEE & FT; and the potential usefulness of the FAO Accuracy Assessment Tool was confirmed.

With further technical support from FAO, training follow-up will include completion of the remaining accuracy assessment plots; developing an image Interpretation Guideline/Manual with Collect Earth for Standardization & Consistency of interpretation criteria; completing the accuracy assessment of the training and implementing a full accuracy assessment.

Trained officers can further explore Collect Earth and the new FAO Accuracy Assessment tool to improve the consistency of time series of wall-to-wall maps with accuracy assessment results; and use Collect Earth for planning and implementing the upcoming National Forest Inventory in Myanmar.


To learn more about the Open Foris software tools, please visit here.

To learn more about the UN-REDD Programme’s work in Myanmar, visit the country page here or the National REDD+ website here.


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