Tanzania project title: Enhancing the measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of forest in Tanzania through the application of advanced remote sensing techniques


A network of statistically sound samples of ground observations is expected in the future to be a vital part of a MRV system accepted by the international community (i.e., in compliance with UNFCCC and other international agreements). The National Forest Inventory of Tanzania currently being established (the NAFORMA program) is such a program. The NFI of Tanzania will be the backbone of a system for estimation of the current state of the forest as well as monitoring of changes in different carbon pools. Sound field samples may provide validity of the estimates required for reporting, while remote sensing in a cost-effective way can improve the precision and timeliness of the estimates. Thus, remote sensing will play an essential part in any MRV system to be developed for REDD. Since little information on previous state of the forests is available, the baseline will have to be estimated by extensive use of previously recorded remote sensing data stored in archives. It is important to take advantage of recent and current advances in remote sensing technology and processing techniques, to find the best ways of utilizing remote sensing for establishing the baseline as well as supporting future monitoring.


The proposed project will test the suitability of data collected by airborne sensors like LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) in combination with ground measurements as well as optical and radar sensors of different resolutions onboard satellites.

Positioning field plots in rainforest

Satellite and LiDAR data to be collected and processed will complement inputs from other data sources, especially data from the NAFORMA program. One of the challenges to be faced during the fieldwork is difficult accessibility to remote areas that are apparently rich with woody biomass. Remote sensing has an advantage for collecting forest biomass-related data in such situations, although at least some ground data will be necessary for all forest types found in the country. The NAFORMA program will produce calibration and verification data for the LiDAR based methods.

The proposed collaborative project between Tanzania and Norway will center around two core activities, namely;

  1. Development, implementation and testing of airborne LiDAR for assessment of forest biomass and carbon at various geographical scales, and
  2. The data, products and services that will be offered by GEO FCT.

Both activities will also focus on transfer of competence through training of personnel and organized education in integrated university programs.


Sokoine University of Agriculture – Tanzania
Kongsberg Satellite Services
Northern Research Institution
Norwegian Computing Centre
Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute
University of Tromsø
Norwegian University of Life Sciences

The Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) will assist in the coordination of the Norwegian partners, as well as potential international partners through the Group on Earth Observations Forest Carbon Tracking (GEO FCT) task, which will be drawn upon as deemed necessary by different activities performed.

Time frame:



The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Norway, has entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Tanzania on Climate and Forest. The overall goal of this agreement is to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Tanzania. The introduction of a functioning Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system that meets the UNFCCC’s reporting requirements is a vital part of this agreement.


Næsset, E. (ed.) 2015. Forest monitoring with airborne laser scanning in Tanzania. INA fagrapport 31. 30 pp.

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