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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

During November and December 2017, the PI Dr. Huong and her group organized three field visits, including the participation of teachers, students, forestry staff, and members of the community. They gathered biophysical data, particularly on biodiversity, within 23 sample field plots. The focus was on the Ta Dung National Reserve, which is home to a diverse range of tree species and represents the largest remaining forest area in Dak Nong Province. Prior to the field work the researchers met with senior officials and technical staff members from Ta Dung, as well as some local residents engaged in forest protection on a contract basis, to preliminarily identify the locations of rare and engendered tree species on a map. During the meeting Dr. Huong and her colleagues also discussed the current status of the forest and strategies for better management of the remaining rare and engendered species and forest areas. Some of the meeting participants were later engaged in the field data collection work.

In addition, they also devoted efforts to processing satellite images covering their study area, and one master’s student working on the project was sent to a three-day training course on the Google Earth Engine. Dr. Huong made a research presentation at the National Conference on GIS Applications, which was held November 2-3, 2017, at Quy Nhon University. The paper mentioned the use of the Random Forest method running in an R environment to map land use and land cover in Dak Lak Province based on satellite images from the Landsat 8 OLI. The results presented are only preliminary, and the PI will continue honing them in order to submit a completed paper to a journal or international conference. Free high-resolution images provided by the USAID GeoCenter are helping increase the data available to the PI and her team.

Although the project has only been in operation for a little more than a year, it is already attracting attention among the research community and relevant provincial government agencies. Dr. Huong reports that the Department of Technology and Science of Dak Nong Province recently introduced the project in their journal, which will be circulated to relevance Dak Nong provincial, district, and commune-level organizations, as well as other provinces’ Departments of Technology and Science nationwide. The PI will also be sharing detailed information on land use and land cover changes with the Dak Nong Department of Technology and Science in early 2018. Other plans for the first half of the year include continuing the compilation and processing of satellite imagery, processing field data, and preparing a paper for submission to the Geo Information for Disaster Management (Gi4M) conference to be held in Istanbul in March 2018.

Project 5-253 Vietnam - DaknongProject 5-253 Vietnam - UWProject 5-253 Vietnam - Humboldt
Dr. Nguyen speaks at a stakeholder meeting with provincial and district-level forestry officials on her study sitesDr. Nguyen at Kamp Natural Resources Station, University of Wisconsin-MadisonWorking with students and faculty from Humboldt University Berlin in a deciduous forest in Yok Don National Park, Vietnam

All photos courtesy of Dr. Nguyen

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