Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) in Nepal

Indufor Oy
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

A LiDAR pilot was implemented through the Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) program, which aims to develop methodology for forest inventory in Nepal. The lack of reliable information about tropical forests has led to difficulties in accurately assessing the biomass. New remote sensing technologies can help to overcome difficulties related to field-based inventories or satellite imagery in tropical forests. The Nepal project aims to test LiDAR in large mountainous areas. This is important in developing robust technologies for carbon monitoring required for carbon trade system in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Developing Countries. REDD has high potential in combatting against global climate change and supporting sustainable forestry, environment management and climate change mitigation. Potential technology options have already been identified but a comparative assessment enabling a choice for the most suitable approach in mountainous regions and tropical forests has been lacking.

LiDAR airborne laser scanning and high resolution aerial photography from 2000 m altitude with point classification of approx. 0.5 points/m2. Crucial part of this project is to develop methodology for high mountain LiDAR-scannings. Project included both aerial photography and LiDAR-scanning components. The results of the pilot study will aim to verify that two phase sampling using LiDAR, optical data and field sample plots is a viable technological solution for carbon stock monitoring in mountainous tropical forest. Previous results (Lao PDR) demonstrate that LiDAR technology has great potential in carbon stocks estimation in tropical forests. Using LiDAR point clouds to automatically guide the interpretation of satellite images reduces the rate of error in carbon estimates by more than 50% when compared to using optical satellites alone. Baseline deforestation rates can be calculated using satellite imagery combined with country-specific historical data and other auxiliary data. The same technology can be used also for forest degradation studies and environmental monitoring.

CIR images with 0.45 m resolution were also delivered. Approx. 5% (100,000 ha) of the total project area of 2 million hectares was covered with LiDAR sampling blocks.