Forest Expert Program - Behruz Ilnazarov, Tadjikistan

Forest Monitoring Methodology

A report by Behruz Ilnazarov, Tajikistan, about his time Germany in September 20166

After the collapse of Soviet Union and five years of civil war in Tajikistan the forest were almost destroyed. Due to the low social condition and high poverty rate, especially in the countryside the remaining forests are still under the high pressure. Mainly there is an intensive grazing going on in the State forest Agency (thereafter SFA) land and local population highly exploiting forests for firewood.

A GIZ (German international cooperation) project “Adaptation to climate change through sustainable forest management” started from March 2013. The aim of the project is supporting the SFA of Tajikistan on developing the sustainable management approaches as well as providing a technical advices and capacity building for SFA employees. Within the framework of the project, I am responsible for the technical backstopping of the SFA employees on the issues related to sustainable Forest management and monitoring.

Bavarian state Ministry of food, agriculture and forestry (12.09.2016)
The Bavarian State Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Forestry is highly focused on strengthening the entrepreneurs within national and international competition. One of the good aspects of that is training and further education for the professions in agriculture, consulting, applied research as well as the promotion of agricultural and forestry holdings and nutrition education. Within the framework of GIZ supported project State Forest Agency of Tajikistan is developing a training program for foresters which involve awareness rising of local population as well as forestry education of schoolchildren. Dr. Franz-Josef Mayer from the department of Forest research and forest pedagogy, who is in charge of education and consulting within the ministry, provided me very helpful information on forestry education and awareness rising. During the meeting with the department of forest pedagogy and forest research I have presented the current planned activities of my home institution, including some details and got a very good feedback from Dr. Florian Zormaier and other colleagues.

Due to my background I was mainly interested in application of GIS and Remote Sensing in forestry. Mr. Johannes Loose who is responsible for Communication and IT kindly presented me the forestry GIS system of Ministry. Mr. Loose is a project manager of BayWIS (Bayerische Wald-Informationssystem) which is a central system for storing and analyzing of all GIS and statistic data. BayWIS was introduced to Bavarian forest administration since 2012 and supports around 1200 forest employees as well as forest owners and citizens providing them regularly updated GIS information. It is worthwhile to mention that the application can be used offline in the forest (disconnected use) or online on PCs at office workplaces. For the foresters and field crews the system is installed on so called outdoor laptops, which are designed for gathering the field information. The system is user-friendly and becomes very popular among the users. As in Tajikistan the State forestry Agency intends to establish such a system for the whole country I think it will be useful in terms of potential way of cooperation to organize an exchange visit for a small group from Tajikistan. This will help to ensure a basic knowledge for the forest administration of Tajikistan.
 
State Institution for Forest Seeding and Planting (13.09.2016 – 14.09.2016)
The Bavarian State institution for Forest seeding and planting (ASP) was the next host institution I visited during my traineeship. ASP institute is responsible for the protection of the genetic resources in the forests of Bavaria. The head of the institute Dr. Monika Konnert shortly explained me the principle targets of the institute and provided me with information about the current ongoing experiments. This helped me to better understand the importance of the genetic analysis and genetic diversity. Taking into account changing of environmental conditions and a high level of human intervention to forests of Tajikistan, the establishment of such an institution will play a crucial role in sustainable rehabilitation of Tajik forests. I was involved in a group of experts consisting of Mr. Adreas Wurm and Mr. Sigi Krause who kindly showed me the institute experimental plots and organized a short exhibition to nurseries. ASP has a rich experience with international projects which I think will help us to keep contacts and find possible ways of cooperation.

The Bavarian State Institute of Forestry (LWF) (15.09.2016 – 16.09.2016)
The Bavarian state institute of forestry which is based in Freising is a special agency with different departments, which supports the Bavarian forestry administration and its branch offices in the regions. The department of information technology, which was my main host institution is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of forestry related information systems. First, I got a short introduction from the head of the department Mr. Dirk Schmechel who kindly introduced me to the team of experts in the department. The department is working mainly in three directions and I had a chance to meet the responsible person for each topic separately. In the field of remote sensing Dr. Christoph Straub demonstrated me some researches that they had implemented and we discussed some details that I was interested in. In addition I was also explaining Dr. Straub some activities that I am doing in Remote Sensing and he provided very helpful advices and comments to my work. LWF is also responsible for managing and maintaining the BayWIS platform. Mr. Michael Zwack presented me the structure and the future prospective of the system. I was very interested in hearing about the potential problems that we might face during the establishment of such a system in my home country. The technical design and elaboration of new modules of the system is implemented by Mr. Michael Schwall, who kindly agreed to support me technically during the elaboration of such system. The general GIS part is done by Dominic de Hasque who is also responsible for the forestry monitoring and inventory design and with whom I also discussed different GIS related issues. In the last day as a practical activity I visited the Grafrath forestry garden where Mr. Schmidt organized a small tour for us around the garden and demonstrated the experimental species that are growing in the garden.

Forest Eye research GmBH (19.09.2016 -23.09.2016)
The ForestEye Research GmbH is a spin-off of the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology at the University of Göttingen on providing consultancy in the fields of forest inventory and remote sensing. ForestEye has a long experience on teaching activities in terms of GIS and forest monitoring. We are closely cooperating with ForesEye since 2014 and so far we achieved a significant result in the field of forest monitoring and inventory. Forests in Tajikistan were heavily exploited following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and especially during the civil war between 1992 and 1997. This has left the country with a forest cover of around two per cent, and threatens important ecosystem services. The information on forest has not been updated since the independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and the last forest monitoring (inventory) was conducted in the middle of 80-es. Thus GIZ decided to develop a new forest monitoring methodology, which is especially needed after the reform of general forest management system and changes in the forestry code of Tajikistan. This was implemented by involving the international consulting companies such as “ForestEye” who supported the State Forestry Agency of Tajikistan on elaboration of forest inventory methodology for the whole country. This methodology is now widely used by State Forestry Agency for forest monitoring and reporting. Currently we are working together with experts from “ForestEye” on the development of a methodology for forest cover mapping using remote sensing materials. In this regard Forest expert program provided me a good opportunity on being directly based in the “ForestEye” office which provided us a possibility to discuss operationally any issues we face in the process of our work.

I was starting my traineeship in “ForestEye” with the presentation of the current status and ongoing activities of forest monitoring in Tajikistan. Unfortunately my time with “ForestEye” was very limited and after the presentation we agreed on a certain specific tasks that we could implement during this timeframe. The tasks include possibilities of application of open source remote sensing software for forest monitoring and introduction to “OpenForris” software for forest inventory and data management. Dr. Paul Magdon and Dr. Lutz Fehrmann have a long term experience on working with open source software. Within this time I got a very good training on this topic. We agreed to continue our collaboration and discussed some potential future prospective of our joint activities.

Northwest German forest research institute (21.09.2016)
The Northwest German forest research institute (NW-FVA) was founded on 1st of February, 2006 as a joint institute state research organization for Hessen, Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. The NW-FVA is responsible for applied forest research and for advising forest owners under all ownership titles in the participating states. The institute supervises the experimental sites in the subordinated areas and in addition it is responsible for the continuation of old Prussian experimental trial series in the participating states. I was mainly visiting department of forest protection as it is also responsible for remote sensing and GIS analysis. The task of the department of forest protection is to prevent forest damage through the development and implementation of concepts for integrated forest protection. The concepts developed through practical research, are accessible to all forest owners. Mr. Christoph Fischer amiably shared with me the results of recent studies conducted by his research institute. I have identified a lot of new ways of geodata management.

Chair of forest inventory and remote sensing (26.09.2016 - 30.09.2016)
The last week of my traineeship I spent in the Chair of forest inventory and remote sensing of the faculty for forest science and forest ecology in the University of Göttingen. The prior methodology for forest cover mapping in Tajikistan was based on RapidEye images, which are quite expensive and there are strict rules on distribution. Fortunately nowadays there are many different sources of RS materials existing, which can be used for free under a certain conditions. In the Chair of Remote sensing faculty with the support of Dr. Hans Fuchs I was analyzing different sources of satellite images for conducting a forest cover mapping and forest monitoring. Dr. Hans Fuchs used to make up a forest cover mapping for different type of forest using Sentinel images, provided by ESA (European space agency) and by that time he had quite good experience with it. The sentinel satellite mission was launched in 2014 and provide a polar-orbiting multispectral high-resolution images for land monitoring, such us imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas. Sentinel-2 can also deliver information for emergency services. Since I had a constants support from Dr. Hans Fuchs as well as from Paul Magdon and Lutz Ferhmann during the processing of images we achieved fruitful results using mentioned images. These results will be further used for forest cover mapping of the whole Tajikistan. At the same time I was conducting other remote sensing and GIS analysis for forestry which helped me a lot afterwards.

German Forest Society (27.09.2016)
Simultaneously during my traineeship in the host institutions I also joined a couple of excursions to forests organized by the German Forest Society. We had a wonderful tour to Gottingen city forest where I got an impression about different management models of forest. During its long history, the City Forest of Gottingen has been shaped by the great responsibility the city has shown towards its own forest since the middle of the last millennium. As early as in 1920s, an astoundingly modern close to nature forest management was introduced. We had a chance to compare different management models that were in place. Due to the long lasting close to nature management model, the forest is consisting mainly of natural species such as Beech and Ash mixed with maple. This type of forest is obviously more resilient and productive in the long run. The mentioned forests with different models are growing on separate experimental sites which allow to clearly identify the differences. They are also used as a demonstration plots for the students and other interested groups. Mr Martin Levin, the local forester, kindly provided me the example of forest management plans in which I was mainly interested in. I will further use them on my work as an example of sustainable management.

On my leisure time I have also visited many interesting places where I got a good impression about the traditional and cultural values of Germany. I was visiting traditional festivals in Bavaria and met a lot of interesting people. Mr. Marcus Kuhling and Ms. Sabine Schreiner organized me an excursion to Hessen where we were observing red dear in the forest which was an unforgettable impression for me.

The Forest Expert Program provided me good opportunities to visit Germany in order to examine different methods of sustainable management. Visiting of the host institutions helped me to identify the potential ways of possible cooperation with them as well as I obtained a lot of documentation and distribution materials about the specific topics, which was very helpful for me afterwards. Taking this opportunity I would like to express my gratitude to the host Institutes for their hospitality and for the time that they allocated to me. I truly believe that the gained knowledges and learnt experience obtained during the mission will help me to tackle above mentioned issues of the forest sector in my home country.

Thank you very much for everything!