Recommendations from the Rogow Conference on Remote Sensing and Forest Monitoring
1-3 June 1999, Rogow, Poland
(IFFN No. 21 – September 1999,p. 88-89)
IUFRO Group 8.05, along with the Groups 4.12, 4.02.05 and the Faculty of Forestry of the Warsaw Agricultural University, organized the Rogow Conference. A session on Remote Sensing and Forest Fires was held at Rogow with the presentation of 12 papers. These papers were representative of the two main directions of joint remote sensing/fire research initiatives around the world today: the use of high-resolution satellite imagery to map burned areas at a local to regional scale for fire management purposes, and the use of lower-resolution imagery to map the distribution of fires around the world for input into global environmental issues such as climate and land use change, biodiversity, and transboundary smoke transport.
Fire management agencies in developed countries generally do not require satellite mapping of fires in order to effectively manage fires in their protected areas, as their emphasis is on preparedness and early detection and control, and satellite overpasses are currently too infrequent to assist in this approach. However, the use of satellite capabilities to map and monitor fires in remote areas of developed countries, where fire protection efforts are deliberately modest, has been shown to be economically beneficial. Likewise, satellite data could provide key and more timely information to developing countries with a reduced fire management capability.
Gas and aerosol emissions from vegetation fires are now recognized as a major perturbation to atmospheric chemistry, with direct impacts on the global environment. Over the past decade there has been a strong recognition of the need to quantify the extent and impact of biomass burning in ecosystems throughout the world. Statistical information has been compiled (e.g. UN-ECE/FAO) and remote sensing analysis conducted (e.g. IGBP-DIS, IGBP-IGAC GEIA), but the record is far from complete, and much work remains. The World Fire Web, the ATSR Fire Atlas, and the M3 Fire Monitoring, Mapping and Modeling System, current initiatives described in papers at Rogow, are an indication of the internet-based capability being generated to disseminate global fire data quickly, but further information is required in order to address many unresolved global change science issues. The concept of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), which has been jointly promoted by the UN International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Educational Organization (UNESCO), and the World Bank, involves the utilization of near-real time and archived satellite data provided by several remote sensing centers around the world. This spatial-temporal information on fire activity is explained by scientific background information, and the cultural, socio-economic and political context of fire.
That IUFRO strongly endorses and supports ongoing remote sensing efforts to quantify the extent and impact of vegetation fires burning globally, recognizing that this information is critical to global environmental concerns such as climate and land use-change, and loss of biodiversity.
That IUFRO recognizes the strong need to build on existing efforts to assemble a global capability to monitor active fires and smoke plumes globally in near real-time (within 24h of satellite overpass), in order to provide strategic fire management knowledge and response options dealing with fire activity and regional environmental (smoke/visibility/air quality) issues.
That IUFRO supports efforts to compile monthly maps of burned areas globally that can be combined with ecosystem parameters to determine emission levels and impacts on biogeochemical cycles (particularly the carbon cycle), information critical to global change research.
While it appears that current and planned remote sensors provide suitable raw data, IUFRO recommends the further development of ground infrastructure capability in ensuring global reception of all appropriate data, developing (and validating) improved data extraction algorithms, and the establishment of suitable networks and other mechanisms for distribution of products.
IUFRO supports ongoing research and development in these areas, including the efforts of many international organizations (e.g. UN, IGBP), and wishes to promote the active participation of IUFRO member organizations and scientists to ensure scientific collaboration that will lead to the development of the required global capability, recognizing that all nations will benefit from improved knowledge of the extent and impact of fire globally.