Another step towards the adoption of satellite technologies by the countries of Central and Western Africa
– Funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and implemented by IGN FI, the program aimed at making SPOT satellite images available and reinforcing capabilities has now reached a new milestone by enlarging its scope from Central Africa to include Western Africa.
– These satellite images are a key tool for the 8 recipient countries in order to analyze and track their territories. The Central and Western African Forests Spatial Observation project (OSFACO) will contribute to the operational implementation of forest preservation strategies (REDD+) as well as tracking how the use of agricultural and pasture land is organized.
– Forests in the Congo basin represent 22% of the world’s forest cover and benefit from a low level of deforestation. However, the surface area of forests in Western Africa underwent a reduction of 20% between the years 2000 and 2010. Following up these territories’ dynamics is a major focus area in the fight against climate change.
Paris, March 2016
The OSFACO program began on March 14th and aims to consolidate the information gained from two projects as well as improve knowledge on past and present dynamics in terms of land occupation in the 8 1 recipient countries: (i) OSFT, where SPOT images covering 3 million km² of the Congo Basin territory have already been made available to over 70 recipient projects, and (ii) GEOFORAFRI, a project working on the reinforcement of capabilities and means for accessing satellite data and which already finances over thirty research projects in Central and Western Africa.
The AFD have provided 5 million euros if funding for the programme which is coordinated by the French institutions specialized in the field of spatial observation. The consortium created for the programme is led by IGN FI and includes the National Centre for Spatial Studies (CNES), the National Institute of Geographical and Forestry Information (IGN) and the Institute for Research and Development (IRD).
Satellite observation of the Earth is recognized as a key tool in measuring and tracking the evolution of land use, in particular for forest cover and agricultural areas, as well as for controlling the implementation and respect of land use policies.
High resolution SPOT images (up to 1.5 metres) provided by Airbus Defence and Space can also be used as tools to help render the use of forests as profitable and sustainable as possible (forest inventories, definitions for the limits of their use) as well as ensure that agro-industries develop in a responsible and sustainable manner (definition of zones with a high conservation value, definition of planting zones, verification of land licensee commitments, etc.). Satellite images along with land occupation data, are the basis for many applications designed for agriculture, land tenure, breeding, water resource management, land occupation, etc.
The ever-increasing demand for agricultural products (cacao, rubber and palm oil) has necessitated the development of sustainable land use and organization tools in order to ensure a system of agricultural development that poses no threat to forest conservation.
Satellite observation of the Earth provides a way for States with limited means to obtain specific and reliable data for very large surface areas in regions that are often difficult to access (tropical forest environments, no access by road, no means available to provide State personnel to perform random tests out in the field, etc.) on a regular basis and at low cost.
Laurence Breton-Moyet, Director of Operations at the AFD highlights the importance of the data provided as part of this project for tracking NDCs, such as they were presented by countries at the recent COP20 in Paris.
Christophe Dekeyne, Director General of IGN FI, underlines the importance of mutualizing the various cartographic data that will be produced between the different administrative entities in order to create integrated land use policies.
About the French Development Agency
The French Development Agency (AFD) is a publicly funded institution that implements the policies defined by the French government in order to fight against poverty and encourage sustainable development.
It works over four continents through a network of 72 offices providing funding and supporting projects that aim to improve the living conditions of local populations as well as helping to sustain economic growth and protecting the planet.
The AFD provided funding of 8.1 billion euros to developing countries overseas.
About IGN FI
Created in 1986, IGN FI is a subsidiary of the FIT group and the National Institute of Geographical and Forestry Information (IGN France). 100% dedicated to export projects, its fields of expertise are: Geodesy, Metrology, Mapping / National geographical data infrastructures, Databases, Geograpical Information Systems, Portals.
IGN FI uses its know-how in a number of sectors: land use, the environment, agriculture, forestry, civil security, borders, energy, ….
 Cameroon, Central African republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Benin.