The Global Forest Watch (GFW) held its inaugural Summit of practitioners and innovators in the field of forest monitoring from the 18th to 19th June 2019 at the Marvin Center, George Washington University in Washington DC. The purpose of this summit was to strengthen the capacity of the forest monitoring community to implement a technology-based monitoring approach in the development of forest management, conservation and restoration.
Women Research Institute, a partner of the World Resources Institute, was invited to participate in the GFW Summit activities and exchange knowledge and experiences related to forest monitoring tools with other World Resources Institute partner institutions.
The GFW Summit 2019 activities included multiple panel discussions that participants could attend. Women Research Institute researchers participated in various discussion sessions, topics included 1) The latest information about the development of the GFW platform, 2) Discussion on forest monitoring tools and practices 3) Discussion on Community Monitoring and Evaluation 4) Networking Session: user marketplace, 5) Utilizing data for real action.
The following is an overview of the discussion sessions mentioned above:
1) Latest information about the development of the GFW platform
In this session, participants received the latest information and updates about the GFW devices. The GFW platform is a platform that empowers every person not matter their location to protect forests through the latest data, technology and GFW tools. Two important technical tools that have been developed by the World Resources Institute are:
- Forest Watcher Mobile App; The current Forest Watcher application (version 1.8) allows users to export and access report files offline. This is important because often the data and information from GFW cannot be accessed by people who are in areas with unstable internet connections, had previously been noted by the Women Research Institute projects in areas such as Siak and Pelalawan. The development of this GFW App is a positive step for overcoming internet network obstacles to do with accessing data and information regarding monitoring forest conditions. In its next stage, the Forest Watcher app (version 1.9), which is expected to be launched in July 2019, will make improvements to make data more contextual.
- MapBuilder mapping portal; is a map application that can be tailored to the needs of each user. MapBuilder makes it easy and helps users in mapping their own portal complete with powerful analytic tools. Through this application the user is able to combine GFW data with GIS data they already have. This has already been implemented in the Forest Watch Malaysia platforms. In the next update this application will allow users to map the authorised areas by entering coordinates.
2) Discussion on forest monitoring tools and practices
This session discussed various forest monitoring tools and practices used by each organization who work in forest monitoring (in this case specifically from Indonesia), categorizing positive and negative aspects of these monitoring tools, and identifying together about opportunities for GFW development in the future. In this session, the Women Research Institute shared its experience using GFW as the forest monitoring tool that supported its research data, and as a source of data for consideration in deciding on locations / areas that most needed positive intervention. The GFW data that was most often used by the Women Research Institute was tree density loss data, tree density gain, and fire alerts.
Some negative aspects that had to be overcome by the Women Research Institute while using GFW as a forest monitoring tool included technical and scientific terms that were unfamiliar to ordinary people and are difficult to translate in terms that are easier for the community to understand. Another issue was related to the difficulty to access the GFW app on an unstable internet network that in turn hindered the Women Research Institute from being able to demonstrate the use of GFW to the public. WRI’s recommendation, that could aid in overcoming these obstacles, is to develop a practical module on guidelines for the use and interpretation of GFW data.
3) Discussion on Community Monitoring and Evaluation
In the second round of discussion sessions the Women Research Institute joined the group discussion themed: Community Monitoring. In this discussion session, the Women Research Institute emphasized that in encouraging community-based forest monitoring, we must not leave women's participation behind. To encourage women's participation, the Women Research Institute asserts that if an approach towards women's groups participation in forest and land management is not carried out in a participatory and sustainable manner it will have a negative impact on women's daily lives. For example, haze due to forest and land fires in 2015 had a huge impact on women's lives and their daily activities. The strategy of including women in decision making around forest monitoring is effective because with this approach the community can see clear reasons for the importance of their participation in decision making related to forest and land management.
4) Networking Session: User Marketplace
In this session Summit participants could network with 30 exhibitors. The Women Research Institute was one of the exhibitors of the Civil Society Engagement group, presenting the results of WRI's work specifically related to forest and land management issues. This session lasted for two hours starting at 15:30 - 17:30 held at the Grand Ballroom of GWU.
5) Discussion on utilizing data for real action
This session discussed various strategies that promote the sustainability of forest management and land use that have developed through advances in tools and technology to measure and monitor forests. In this session panellists explored the needs, opportunities and challenges of adopting a new system for monitoring forests and land use.
Carl Amirgulashvili from Georgia shared about monitoring forests for the danger signs of haze, using the GFW Platform fire alerts and GLAD Alerts and collaborating with other parties for its implementation. In its development, the Government of Georgia conducted the GFW tool to facilitate better planning and become a source from which information can be used to make better decisions.
While from Madagascar, Serge shared his experience using GFW specifically for GLAD Alert and Fire Alert devices that can make the work of Forest Rangers more effective. The use of GFW had a very positive impact because it reduced patrol costs, overcame problems related to infrastructure / equipment limitations, and limited human resources. However, they still faced obstacles related to energy, because in conducting one-time patrol the officers needed to spend approximately one week in the forest, so they faced difficulties when the power or energy supporting equipment had been expended.
Hidayah Hamzah from Indonesia, spoke about about the need for appropriate forest monitoring tools related to forest resources in Indonesia, of which there are a fair amount, but at the same time also there is a problem of limited human resources in that sector. Forest and land management in Indonesia is also often colored by conflicts due to land claimed by more than one party. Thus, when there are forest and land fires there are obstacles in deciding which party can be held responsible. So, to minimize conflicts, it is necessary to compile one integrated data so that each party can access and utilize the same references.
An important point from this discussion emphasizes the need to ascertain what is the cause of deforestation itself, whether it is road construction, companies or community plantation practices. This data also needs to compiled and then combined with other data so that it can be more comprehensive. In addition, it was also highlighted that organisations and communities need to remain practice and monitor and measure whether the actions taken have had an impact on the community.
Through the events that WRI participated in, it was determined that the Global Forest Watch Platform was a potential tool to help women to participate in accessing information and making policies in the environmental field. The result of this is that women can be included and encouraged to be actively involved in gathering evidence and information through GFW technology. No matter the time or location, everyone will be able to know the condition of the forest and can remain up to date with other fire / disaster warnings. To fulfil the potential of the GFW platform, it is our shared obligation to socialize, educate and assist women in engaging with this new technology. Now, you can also spread this good news through the Global Forest platform link www.globalforestwatch.org