International organisations collaborate with UG to host mangrove monitoring workshop

The University of Guyana’s Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences (FEES) in collaboration with Servir Amazonia, NASA, Spatial Information Group (SIG), and CIAT is hosting a workshop from January 20 – January 24, 2020 at the Turkeyen Campus. The first phase of the training workshop will provide insight into the International Course focussing on “Using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to monitor mangrove forests in Guyana”.

At the Opening Ceremony, Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement, PACE and Chair, Transitional Management Committee, UG, noted the im- portance of such an endeavour: “ this initiative is not just important for the University of Guyana, but for you the participants to acquire knowledge about the technology. On the grand scheme of things this technology will have a macro effect on Guyana,” she explained.

The workshop will bring remote-sensing resources, primarily Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), to bear on mapping the extent and structure of mangrove forests along the coast of Guyana. Professionals in Guyana together with SERVIR-Amazonia staff will build a platform for automating the analysis of radar and optical imagery going back several years and setting a year-2020 baseline for future analysis. The service will make mangrove-related land-use change transparent and the resulting analysis publicly available for use by gov- ernment and civil society.

Outputs of the training will include, but not limited to: (1) maps of mangrove extent, (2) indicators of man-grove health, (3) information that can be used for greenhouse gas reporting (4) data for assessing land-use changes lead- ing to the loss of mangroves, (5) analysis of the performance of mangrove restoration efforts, (6) full documenta- tion on analysis methods, (7) open-source algorithms for processing remote-sensing data, (8) all data associated with the project, (9) extensive training to use remote sensing techniques for mangrove monitoring and on operat- ing a mangrove monitoring programme.

The projects will also develop algorithms that take remote-sensing data, convert it into maps and make it available on the cloud. Guyana institutions will calibrate and validate the models and map products. Addition-ally, Govern- ment officials and the University of Guyana researchers will be trained using a “learn by doing” approach. Participants are drawn from the University of Guyana (UG), Hydromet, National Agricultural Research and Ex- tension Institute (NAREI); Conservation International – Guyana; Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC); Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC); Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); National Drain-age and Irri- gation Authority (NDIA); World Wildlife Fund Guyana Office; Ministry of Public Infrastructure – Sea and River Defence Division; Amerindian Peoples Association (APA); Department of Environment; and Ministry of Natural Resources.

The main trainer is Dr. Mark Simard from NASA and the other two scientists Dr. Glenn Hyman and Ms. Andrea Nicolau, from Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) are also involved in the workshop and will provide technical sup- port, including support for data hosting, algorithm development, and planning support. Dr Temitope Oyedotun, the Dean of the Faculty who initiated and facilitated the workshop stated that the ultimate objective of the initiative is for Government and civil society (decision-makers) to have access to up-to-date maps of mangrove extent and health. Such information can be useful for land-use planning and climate change mitigation efforts. The workshop promises to be enriching an experience for participants.

The workshop promises to be enriching an experience for participants.