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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 - June 2021

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. Huong 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

On April 9, 2021, Dr. Huong and her colleagues formally transferred their final report on the project to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and other stakeholders in Dak Nong Province. The report was delivered at a workshop for 13 invited participants held in Gia Nghia City, Dak Nong Province. The participants represented various provincial government agencies, including DARD, the Department of Planning and Investment, Department of of Technology and Science, Department of Forest Rangers, and other forestry agencies. Although the PEER project budget had run out, the research team still contributed financing for this activity due to the importance of disseminating their results for practical application. The participants highly appreciated the team’s findings and recommendations and noted that they expect to use the results as a reference for their strategies of forestry development, including biodiversity conservation in Dak Nong Province.

A final report will be submitted to the PEER program this summer, but in the meantime the PI Dr. Huong notes several key results and impacts. The conference papers she and her team have published have served to increase knowledge of the state of the forest and land use in Dak Nong Province. Project results were also incorporated into a crop map of Dak Nong that was completed in January 2021. Researchers participating in the project also improved their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. As a result, three of them passed the PhD candidate examination with essays related to what they learned during the project. The PI will serve as their supervisor in their PhD research, and in the coming three months they will be completing their thesis outlines.

In the remaining months of this project, which ends June 30, 2021, Dr. Huong and her colleagues will present three courses in May and June on remote sensing and GIS as applicable to payments for environment services, with about 45-60 trainees expected. The team also plans to submit and publish their results in the form of scientific papers, technical reference materials, and guideline books, and they are currently seeking additional funding to support this work. Following is a citation for a recent paper by the team:

T T H Nguyen, T N Q Chau, T A Pham, T X P Tran, T H Phan and T M T Pham. 2021. Mapping land use/land cover using a combination of Radar Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-2A optical images. IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 652 012021, doi:10.1088/1755-1315/652/1/012021

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.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Huong
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