The Democratic Republic of Congo has become the first African country to build a national biomass map using LiDAR, furthering the scientific underpinning of their REDD+ processes.
WWF-DRC launched the Carbon Map and Model project in 2012, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment of the DRC and WWF-Germany, and with the support of its partners, University of California, Los Angeles, Southern Mapping Company, and Observatoire Satellital des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale. This project was developed to complete the national forest biomass map through an aerial LiDAR sampling approach.
Each LiDAR sampling site was selected systematically and randomly throughout DRC, incorporating a variety of plots which represent the various Congolese rainforest types. In total, the flight campaign covered 216 sites and over 430,000 ha. All available plot data were compiled and processed to develop a LiDAR biomass model, which was then extrapolated to national scale by satellite imagery, including optical Landsat 8 and active radar data.
The map will support national forest cover monitoring efforts, which include identification of deforested and degraded areas, as well as helping to assess annual carbon emissions from deforestation, and the necessary reporting to the international mechanisms for REDD+. The biomass information from the map has already been integrated into the final Maï-Ndombe Emissions Reduction Program, which is the largest REDD+ program in Africa.
This carbon map will strengthen REDD+ in DRC, providing additional layers of data on forest cover changes and emissions. With tropical deforestation making up nearly 10 percent of global carbon emissions, the success of REDD+ in DRC, where over 60% of Central Africa’s forest is located, is essential to efforts to mitigate global climate change.