Tetra Tech Helps Promote Knowledge Transfer, Remote Sensing, and Climate Change Mitigation
Tetra Tech is implementing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Forest-PLUS project in India. This flagship forestry project for USAID/India brings together Indian and American expertise to develop new tools, techniques, and methods to shift forest management practices in India towards forest ecosystem management and climate change mitigation.
Recently Forest-PLUS facilitated two visits of Indian foresters to the United States. One group worked with American scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, (UMass) to develop techniques for using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remote-sensed data to measure the carbon and physical condition of Indian forests. The second group visited California to absorb lessons from the policymakers that created that state's carbon market and to observe in the field how land managers have adjusted their forest management to grow carbon credits for that market.
From July 4 to 24, 2015, seven senior remote sensing and forest scientists from India's SAR Task Group were at the UMass SAR lab of Dr. Paul Siquiera, with whom they worked to develop new remote sensing models and protocols that apply SAR data analysis to the unique characteristics of Indian forests. Clouds are transparent to SAR and different SAR wavelengths differentially penetrate forest canopies with the reflectances carrying information about the volume of woody biomass. These characteristics make SAR data useful in estimating forest density, forest condition, and aboveground forest biomass, particularly in cloudy regions.
The SAR Task Group spent an additional day visiting scientists at the University of Maryland (UMD) who are combining Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), SAR, and optical remote-sensed data to estimate forest carbon and forest condition. Forest-PLUS is supporting the SAR Task Group working with both UMass and UMD to develop and fund long-term research collaborations to use remote-sensed data to improve forest management in India. On their final day in the United States, the SAR Task Group visited the Tetra Tech office in Arlington, Virginia, where they presented the results of their trip, their hopes for continuing to work with their American colleagues, and their plans to apply SAR analysis to Indian forests.
For the second visit, Forest-PLUS brought eight senior state foresters and national forest policymakers to California from July 25 to 31, 2015. The group received an intensive introduction to how California's path-breaking climate change policies, laws, and regulations have established strong private sector incentives to manage forests for carbon stocks that can be sold in a regulatory carbon market. They met with many of the senior policymakers and regulators in the state government who were instrumental in establishing California's current policies and regulations, and with foresters and land managers responsible for Big Bend State Forest and Garcia River, two big tracts of redwood forests with large stocks of forest biomass generating marketable carbon credits. These examples in northern California demonstrated how a carefully designed state carbon policy and regulations can influence on-the-ground forest management and how forest carbon projects at community, watershed, and state levels involving public, private, and NGO managers can be developed and implemented. The Indian visitors were able to observe and discuss with their California counterparts how they might adapt the California experience to India.