Exploring collaboration between CSIR and Namibian scientists on mapping woody cover and bush encroachment.

Some of the workshop participants (front row L-R) Loise Iiyambo (GIZ), Ben Nathaneal (DoF), Nicky Knox (NUST/SASSCAL), Russel Main (CSIR), Renaud Mathieu (CSIR) and Konrad Wessels (CSIR). Back (L-R) Carlos Dewasseige (NUST), Miya Kabajani (SASSCAL), Dave Joubert (NUST),  Rolf Becker (NUST).and Laven Naidoo (CSIR). 

Partnerships and collaborations in research are critical for long term knowledge generation and exchange. The CSIR and researchers of the SASSCAL project within the Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) hosted a half day workshop to explore opportunities for collaboration in mapping and monitoring woody cover and bush encroachment in Namibia and neighbouring countries.

The half-day workshop, which was held on the 16th May 2016 at the NUST hotel school, was attended by researchers and representatives from the CSIR, NUST, GIZ, Directorate of Forestry, SASSCAL and private consultants.

A number of topics were presented at the workshop including: Mapping southern African forests and woodlands, The South African Carbon Sink Atlas, Open forests of Namibia, National forest monitoring program for Namibia, and The Challenges of Bush encroachment in Namibia. Presentations were given by scientists from CSIR and NUST. The participants discussed among other topics the possibilities of using Remote sensing technology such as LiDAR and SAR to augment the process of mapping vegetation not only in Namibia but in other southern African countries such as Zambia and South Africa. While acknowledging the value that new technology could provide in terms of mapping woody cover, the discussions also considered the challenges of using remote sensing in mapping open forests such as those found in Namibia.

Following the workshop the CSIR team, spent a few days visiting sites in the northern parts of the country to familiarize themselves with the vegetation patterns of our country.  This will now enable the scientist to do a preliminary assessment of their models to determine if they are effectively capturing the different patterns prior to conducting full scale ground truth and validation exercises.

The workshop provided the attending institutions with an opportunity to see how they could work together in mapping vegetation, using available data to validate remote sensing data and possibly developing maps for forested lands, which has been a daunting task especially in Namibia where forested lands are not accurately mapped out or are based on outdated maps that do not give the actual extent of woody cover in the country.

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