Technical Updates

Monday, 13 May 2013


Satellite remote sensing to strengthen quality transparency

Over the last three years, FSC has participated in a series of trials, financed by the European Space Agency, to assess the potential value and utility of satellite remote sensing to strengthen and increase the quality and transparency of the forest certification process.

Having satisfied itself that this technology would be of significant value, FSC has now initiated TransparentForests©, a study to assess the viability of a web-based Forest Certification Information System (FCIS) in delivering an independent source of geo-spatial data to support better forest certification. The FCIS will integrate Earth Observation (EO) satellite mapping systems, global positioning systems (GPS) and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) in a web-based geographic information system (GIS), specifically customized for the needs of FSC and its stakeholders. An overview of the TransparentForest system is shown in the diagram at the bottom of the page.

For Certification Bodies, TransparentForests will introduce a source of independent, up-to-date and spatially accurate data with which to plan and undertake audits. It will also offer a platform for stakeholder consultations, especially for forest communities. Environmentally-important features and assets in forests will be identifiable, and stakeholders will be able to monitor their status. As a result, TransparentForests should increase the robustness of the forest management certificates FSC issues. It should also result in greater stakeholder engagement and process efficiency for both Certification Bodies and forest operations in preparing for and undertaking audits.

The feasibility phase of the study was initiated in January 2013. A review of the status and suitability of the core technologies – EO, web GIS and satellite navigation systems – has been completed. User needs have also been evaluated, based on a workshop with Certification Bodies, Accreditation Standards International (ASI) and selected forest operations, held in February 2013. The workshop allowed the project team to identify user requirements, which will be reviewed by the Certification Bodies, ASI and forest operations in coming weeks.

The project has also established a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) Forum, which established a formal link with all the CABs undertaking FSC Forest Management certifications. In addition, it has a Strategic Advisory Group which includes representatives of all stakeholders, as well as the FSC Board, which will be kept informed and consulted throughout the process.

There are several ways of finding out more about TransparentForests:

• For background on the project, click here
• Download a project outline here

For further information, please contact FSC Project Manager Tim Synnott timsynnott at point mx or Project Manager Charles Crosthwaite Eyre charles.eyre at point uk

Schematic overview of Transparent ForestsWorkshop group exploring potential user needs at the CAB meeting in February 2013

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