Keeping Track of Forest Resources


Sustainably managed forests have multiple environmental and socio-economic functions which are important at the global, national and local scales, and they play a vital part in sustainable development. Reliable and up-to-date information on the state of forest resources - not only on area and area change, but also on such variables as growing stock, wood and non-wood products, carbon, protected areas, use of forests for recreation and other services, biological diversity and forests' contribution to national economies - is crucial to support decision-making for policies and programmes in forestry and sustainable development at all levels.

The World Agroforestry Centre have been using CyberTracker in a total of 190 LDSF sites (about 30,000 plots) in about 30 countries globally. Senior Scientist Dr. Tor-G Vagen said that:

"I downloaded CyberTracker in 2008 and just started using it right away. I have not required any tech support, so I would say it is very easy to get it up and running, and most importantly deploying it in the field has been trouble-free."

Community Forest Management

Many constraints are holding back the use of spatial information technologies, especially GIS, for local community mapping and monitoring of forest carbon services. The poor availability of user-friendly methodologies hampers the use of these technologies by laypeople. High-cost specialists from consultancies, universities and government agencies are then required to control the information processes. Moreover, there are very few freeware applications available to acquire and manipulate geo-referenced information and databases. Most of the methods available make use of expensive software and mobile devices out of reach of the budgets of communities and local NGOs.

CyberTracker was used for mapping the community and forest boundaries, and mapping the forest strata in the field. It also provides menus and screen templates to ease the process of data acquisition on the sample plots, carbon pools and on the community forest management systems and types and sources of degradation, which are essential to the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) approach.

User-friendly software such as CyberTracker has demonstrated the potential to involve local communities' knowledge as they contribute to the design of the applications, as well as the choice of icons and queries to facilitate and speed the process of data capture.

This project has demonstrated the potential for using CyberTracker for mapping and visualising of Community Forest management in the context of REDD. The experience in Mexico demonstrated that handling new technologies and software is not an obstacle for a deeper involvement of local communities as long as learning by means of user-friendly tools and methods is provided.

Further Reading

Peters-Guarin, Graciela and Michael K. McCall. 2010. Community Carbon Forestry (CCF) for REDD Using CyberTracker for Mapping and Visualising of Community Forest Management in the Context of REDD.

Forest Compass