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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Using multi data for biodiversity conservation at Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam

PI: Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong (, Tay Nguyen University
U.S. Partner: Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

5-253 Forest Data Collection
The team conducts data collection in the study area (photo courtesy of Dr. Nguyen)
Development of sustainable forest management and conservation strategies requires an understanding of how the composition and structure of tropical forests change in response to different disturbance regimes and how this affects both species distributions and people living in and near these forests. Most forests in Vietnam are affected by land cover change (LCC) resulting from human activities. To map and quantify the patterns of LCC, Dr. Nguyen and her team will analyze Landsat satellite images, GIS data, and field inventory data to classify forests by type and disturbance status. They will use these maps to stratify their field sampling and assess plant biodiversity among forest types and their changes following different levels of human disturbances (i.e., minor, moderate, and heavy impact). Furthermore, they will compare tree composition and structure along different ecological gradients, such as topography. By combining remote sensing, field data, and statistical processing, they expect to advance current methods to measure disturbance and biodiversity in the Central Highlands, which are largely based on field inventories. However, remotely sensed data is likely insufficient to map rare and endangered species, and hence areas of high conservation value. Therefore, the researchers will integrate spatial data with the experience of forestry workers and the indigenous knowledge of local people in the second phase of the project. Dr. Nguyen and her colleagues will collaborate closely with Dr. Radeloff, who will provide expert advice on forest sampling, analysis of vegetation diversity, and the use of remote sensing in ecology and biodiversity.

The project will involve all relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, forestry officers from various levels, and local people who depend on the forest. The project is designed so as to enhance conservation awareness among local people and improve skills and knowledge among forestry workers and officials responsible for conservation. The results will be transferred to relevant departments and reported to the Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) of Dak Nong Province in the form of recommendations for forestry strategies. This will be of crucial importance for the PPC in order to implement proper forestry policies, conservation strategies, and forest management for the province in the context of climate change. Furthermore results from the project will contribute in several ways to the development of techniques, methodology, and training in forest biodiversity inventory and monitoring, which is still very limited in the Central Highlands, including Dak Nong Province. Combining remote sensing, terrestrial data, and social surveys will also provide insights into how forest dynamics in the Central Highlands have changed in recent decades. These inferences will contribute to development of a strategy for forest management that can incorporate payments for ecosystem services, REDD, and biodiversity conservation in the Central Highlands.

Summary of Recent Activities

Field work once again represented the main activity for Dr. Huong and her team during the second quarter of 2018. They organized seven field visits to collect biodiversity data in 61 sample plots, including the participation of teachers, students, forestry department staff, and even an interested member of the local community. The forestry departments of Gia Nghia, Nam Cat Tien and Dak R'Mang assigned a total of 13 staff members to the effort, which in addition to their contribution to the research also helped them to see the forest in a different way from how they usually work. Those with academic degrees found it a great opportunity to review forest inventory skills and knowledge they had learned as university students but had not applied for a long time, while other participants learned from interacting with the program team. In addition, three Master’s students and one undergraduate have been trained on field techniques and data analysis by working on the project. In addition to the field work, the research team has been processing satellite images from Landsat and Sentinel 2A, as well as some very high-resolution images provided free of charge by the USAID GeoCenter. Initial biodiversity indices have also been calculated based on field data. Dr. Huong and her colleagues published a full paper in the proceedings of the Workshop on Environment and Natural Resources held in Hanoi, at which they also gave an oral presentation. Another paper was published recently in Tạp chí Khoa học Trường Đại học Cần Thơ (Scientific journal of Can Tho University).

During the summer and into the fall, the team will continue analyzing their field data and processing satellite imagery. They plan to organize a training workshop in late July 2018 aimed at teaching forestry agency staff how to use remote sensing in forest management. Outreach meetings will also be held with forestry agency staff to discuss their forest management data needs and adjust the project to address them. The group will conduct additional field visits after the rainy season ends.

5-253 Forestry Discussions5-253 Forestry GIS Training
The research team discusses rare tree species with forestry staff.The team training the head of the forest station on how to use GIS for monitoring forests with his mobile phone.

All photos courtesy of Dr. Nguyen

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