It is generally accepted that the forest biomass variation makes an important contribution to the global budgets of trace gases. Boreal forests, one of the largest ecosystems on earth, are considered as a key regulator element in the overall equations to mitigate the effect of man-made carbon emissions.

worldmapActually, it supports nearly 50% of the world's remaining intact forests and is the world's largest and most important carbon storehouse – holding 22 percent of the total carbon stored on the earth's land surface, and almost twice as much carbon per unit area as tropical forests. Disturbance of these forests has major consequences to the vegetation and the soil, and their respective carbon pools. It is mainly accompanied by emissions of CO2 through burning and decomposition of biomass in vegetation and soils, which can cause major feedbacks on the climate system. Recent studies 1 , 2 showed that the risk of fires in the boreal forests of the north had increased in recent years because of climate change and fire became a more important driver of the carbon balance than climate was in the last 50 years.

In this context, VITO proposes a service to monitor the growth state and anomalies (including fires) of these forests in North-eastern Asia, a region where two thirds of the global boreal forest can be found.

1 B. Bond-Lamberty et al. 2007: Fire as the dominant driver of central Canadian boreal forest carbon balance Nature 450, 89-92 (2007)
2 C. Wiedinmyer et al. 2007 Estimates of CO2 from fires in the United States: implications for carbon management Carbon balance and Management  2:10 (2007)

The region of study

The Region of the study defined in this project is named as the "North Eastern Asia". It Lies in three countries, China, Russia and Japan. Mountain ranges, ridges, foothills, and plateaus cover two-thirds of the region. The area is rich in biological diversity and supports thousands of species and many ecosystem types. Although the land-use patterns and cultural traditions and pace of economic development are drastically different in two sides of the border Sino-Russia, this area exemplifies as a trans-boundary region in need of shared environmental responsibility.

Project Objectives

The project aims to monitor the growth state and anomalies (including fires) of boreal forests in North-eastern Asia. The service consists of a web-based application capable of updating the state of the forest and the extent of forest fires through vegetation indicators such as Net Primary Productivity (NPP), NPP anomalies, or burnt areas, and burnt areas history. To this end, the proposed service will take advantage of the GlobSeries data, namely from the GlobCarbon and the GlobCover datasets.


(Expected) Results
  • Following service products will be generated in both image and database formats over the region of interest: NPP (Net Primary Production), anomalies of NPP compared to the average year (period 1998 till 2007) and to the reference year 2000. The BAE (Burnt Area Estimates) and the Burnt Area History.
  • This web-based application allows consultation of these products and information up-dateable on a 10 daily basis. It contains three sections covering the period 1998 till 2007:
    • Forest monitoring - "image viewer" enables to view the most recent forest growth state and vegetation density, as well as to map the status change of the forests in comparison with the ten year average or a reference year.
    • Forest monitoring – "graphs (also called database viewer)" displays forest vegetation dynamics over a period of time, for a specific land cover class within a certain spatial unit.
    • Forest Monitoring – "regional NPP statistics" offers tools to assess the total annual NPP of forests for each region


Partners / End-users:

Vito is the only implementation organization for this project. The project has been elaborated and funded upon the requirement stated by the two end-user organizations:

    • The Centre for Marginal Land-Affairs for North-eastern Asia hosted by the Heilongjiang Meteorological Bureau (MLAP)
    • United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP)


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