By Everline Ndenga and Tom Kiptenai
Eight participants from the Project management team of the Uganda Resilient Food Systems (RFS) Project were trained on how to conduct land degradation by Conservation International's Vital Signs team from December 13 to 16, 2021. The training used open source GIS tool, QGIS and a plug in Trends.Earth, a tool developed by Conservation International capable of computing land degradation, and carbon emission due to deforestation.
The main aim of the training was to equip the team with skills to access the Trends.Earth and to spatially analyze land degradation status in their project sites.
During the training, the participants were taken through a presentation on conducting land degradation analysis at national, sub national level and project site level. From the training, participants were able to understand the steps in conducting land degradation, conduct analysis for the different sub indicators: land cover, land productivity and soil organic carbon; understand the UNCCD land cover classifications and how to customize these classifications on Trends.Earth to suit local situations. Participants were also able to practically demonstrate how to conduct the analysis and read the data from the analysis. They also demonstrated ability to use local data, in form of land cover maps, to conduct land degradation analysis and compare between different years. This is a unique capability within Trends.Earth that allow countries to use higher resolution data set available locally compared to default global data.
The participants were also taken through conducting carbon emission due to deforestation using Trends.Earth. The basic concepts of forest loss, biomass and the relationship between forest loss/gain were briefly shared. The participants were also able to understand that these analyses can be done from national, regional to project site level. They were able to interpret the results and generate graphical outputs in terms of graphs/charts.
These skills can be applied in assessing land degradation and its sub indicators (land cover, land productivity and soil organic carbon) at different geographical scales, to enable comparison of local and national situations. This is important in assessing the project’s targets on ecosystem health as a key factor in resilient food systems in the project sites and the country.
Further interests for training by the participants were on use of GPS information to draw polygons and conduct land degradation analyses. Challenges were noted during the training including identification of an online training platform that was suitable for all participants given that some were out of office and were connecting through their smart phones. Other challenges were that some participants had not downloaded the software needed for the training and therefore they could not participate in the practical.
We recommend continuous practice on using remote sensing tools to derive data for monitoring and assessment of the project. Vital Signs team will continue to train and backstop the Uganda RFS team to apply remote sensing tools such Trends.Earth in their monitoring and assessment.