Living Planet Symposium 2022

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The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Living Planet Symposium (LPS) which takes place every three years returned this May to Bonn, Germany, with its biggest ever attendance. Co-organised by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and ESA, the event, which was entitled “Taking the Pulse of our Planet from Space” brought together experts and scientists to share experiences and research on how Earth Observation (EO) imagery can contribute to science and society.

Consortium members of the ESA-funded Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Forest Management cluster (EO4SD FM) participated, and contributed to multiple sessions at the conference showcasing the wide-reaching work of the project. Over the past 18 months, and in consultation with the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), EO4SD FM has prepared a product portfolio aimed at supporting key International Finance Institutions (IFIs) and Client State (CS) in different forest management practice themes.

EO4SD FM is more relevant than ever to the international climate change policy process; taking centre stage at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) and referenced in the Glasgow Climate Pact in relation to Mitigation (November 2021). Gathering information on the forest area losses, and establishing monitoring systems that can support countries to track the changes are key to addressing the loss of forest land and habitats and underpins the product portfolio of EO4SD FM. Alongside representatives from other thematic clusters, GAF AG reiterated the importance of initiatives such as the EO for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) programme and the new Global Development Assistance (GDA) programme, which is further promoting, extending and embedding EO products across a number of thematic areas with IFIs.

A range of different forest products were presented such as Forest Cover and Forest Area Change, and Tree Cover Density, as well emission estimations based on the Global Biomass product from the ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI). Each product in the portfolio was specifically chosen and tailored to overcome the challenges most prominent present within each Use Case. These have been implemented in the following countries: Indonesia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Paraguay, and a trans-boundary Programme in S. America which includes Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

GAF AG also took the opportunity at LPS22 to share an update on its development of a self-contained operational system for Tree Cover Density (TCD) mapping on a regional to national scale. GAF AG’s system includes components for generating training samples directly from Very High Resolution (VHR) sources. The ease of use, speed, and flexibility offered by this solution, allows users from a wide range of backgrounds to utilise such a tool to apply the same methodology in tropical dry and humid forests, to confidently quantify localised and national estimations of forest degradation and to monitor changes in a comparable way. This mapping approach will be used in the second Phase of EO4SD FM to promote greater integration of EO technologies into IFI programmes and to help forestry experts and institutions to realise and expand upon the value these technologies can bring.

Forums such as the Living Planet Symposium provide GAF and consortium partners to further network and disseminate to a wider audience the current outcomes of the EO4SD FM; this is especially important for triggering user engagement beyond the ESA financed project. We look forward to further opportunities to share our experience and achievements with the broader community and invite you to contact us for further information at, or by contacting the team at