The SLEEK team has completed the installation and establishment of a new GIS and Remote Sensing laboratory at the Government of Kenya’s Directorate of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing.
The laboratory was funded by the Government of Australia as part of SLEEK, which is a program that is helping the Government of Kenya build Africa’s first emissions estimation system for the land sector. SLEEK will allow Kenya to meet its international obligations to track carbon emissions, and will provide essential data to help farmers, land-managers and communities manage their lands sustainably.
The new GIS lab provides Kenya with the capacity to produce consistent, comparable and credible land-cover maps that show how Kenya’s forests, crops and other land-use have changed over time. This provides the Government with vital information to track deforestation, direct resources to improve land-use management and plan sustainable growth by being able to visualize and analyse how land-use has changed over time.
The lab is home to 14 workstations, which have been fully equipped with all the remote sensing, GIS and analytical software required to achieve the goals set by, and for, the SLEEK Land Cover Change Element Working Group.
The data being produced in this lab are essential for driving the SLEEK system. They will show the system which land-use needs to be modelled, and by comparing maps over time the SLEEK system will be able to model changes in Kenya’s carbon emissions. As part of this process, SLEEK has convened the various stakeholders to adopt a nationwide methodology for classification and develop a manual that will guide future land cover mapping in the country.
The lab also makes use of a new server for improved data storage capacity and processing speeds to make the most of the terabytes of data being made available to the program through the Global Forest Observations Initiative.
The lab technicians have been provided with training from the CSIRO, Australia’s pre-eminent scientific authority, and are using cutting edge methods. These techniques significantly improve the capacity and accuracy of technicians to track change through time and identify trends in land-use which would be otherwise impossible to detect. This output is significantly more policy relevant than traditional mapping, as it can uncover underlying drivers and issues that need to be addressed by policy makers.
The GIS lab will be used by Kenya for many years to come. The data being generated for SLEEK will provide fresh insights into Kenya’s land-sector, while the new capacity installed at DRSRS will allow the Directorate to undertake a wide range of analysis beyond SLEEK such as contributing to the agricultural census, forest monitoring and natural resource management.