About the Program

Recent years have seen rapid advancement of science and methodologies to help countries monitor their forest and terrestrial carbon. This includes impressive improvements in satellite data availability and quality, along with improved ground, or in situ, measurements, enhanced modeling capabilities, and increased knowledge through research. Ongoing research and international collaboration is particularly critical now for comparing methodologies and identifying good practices and approaches relevant to a variety of country circumstances.

With this in mind, U.S. federal agencies have joined together to create the SilvaCarbon program to enhance capacity worldwide for monitoring and managing forest and terrestrial carbon. SilvaCarbon draws on the expertise of the U.S. scientific and technical community, including experts from government, academia, non-governmental organizations, and industry. Working in collaboration with developing countries and other partners, SilvaCarbon builds capacity by providing targeted technical assistance and identifying, testing, and disseminating good practices and cost-effective, accurate technologies for monitoring and managing forest and terrestrial carbon.

SilvaCarbon is a technical cooperation program under the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative and a U.S. contribution to the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO). SilvaCarbon leads the capacity building component of GFOI.

The program addresses technical issues including:

• Sampling protocols and design
• Data capture, processing, archiving, and distribution
• Collection and analysis of in situ data, including involvement of local communities and stakeholders
• Integration of remotely sensed and in situ data
• Classification and mapping of forest cover
• Carbon stock and flow estimation
• Design of monitoring systems for multiple uses
• Land use analysis and planning

Working cooperatively, U.S. federal agencies draw on their respective strengths to implement SilvaCarbon. Agencies currently involved include: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of State, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Smithsonian Institution.

SilvaCarbon is closely coordinated with international organizations and other governments that are engaged in related forest and terrestrial carbon activities, including GFOI.