LiDAR technology

Success for the LiDAR mission

The most important mission of the “carbon assessment” component of the Holistic Conservation Programme for Forests (HCPF) in Madagascar  took place at the end of March 2010.

A two-engine Cessna equipped with the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology flew over the two largest sites of the programme to measure precisely the height of the forest’s canopy and understory.

Andapa and Fort Dauphin

Supervised by Greg Asner, Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin and James Jacobson, two engineers from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (Stanford University) led the mission in Andapa (Moist forest in the North of Madagascar) and Fort Dauphin (moist and spiny forests in the South). They received support from Maminiaina Rasamoelina (WWF) and Romuald Vaudry (GoodPlanet).

Objectives met

The political crisis in Madagascar made the preparations of the mission – and especially all the administrative work – particularly difficult. A few technical problems and sometimes too many clouds on Andapa resulted in slight delays. But, the mission eventually achieved the desired outcomes.

3D data gathered by the team will now be treated and field inventories are to be carried out in the zones covered by the LiDAR. Combined with the development of allometric models, the data will help obtain an accurate estimation of the amount of carbon stored in the above ground biomass.

Results to be presented at Cancun

Final results will be presented at the next UN Conference on Climate Change in Cancun (Mexico), in December 2010.

In accordance with its objectives, the HCPF is contributing significantly to improve carbon forestry knowledge in Madagascar, at a time when the country is setting its own policy on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

In Fort Dauphin, the LiDAR team also met with the local WWF team and explain them the technology and purpose of the mission.


 / ©: GoodPlanet/R. Vaudry
On board with Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin (and his computer)
© GoodPlanet/R. Vaudry
 / ©: G.Vieilledent
Romuald Vaudry, Maminiaina Rasamoelina, Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin and James Jacobson: a last briefing before take off.
© G.Vieilledent
 / ©: GoodPlanet / R.Vauldry
The forest from above
© GoodPlanet / R.Vauldry
 / ©: WWF
Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin showing the LiDAR captor to Fort Dauphin WWF team
© WWF

Video clip: 3-D Fly over imagery and Malagasy music

Read also: High-resolution forest carbon stocks and emissions in the Amazon

High-resolution forest carbon stocks and emissions in the Amazon is an article published by Greg Asner and team in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Early Edition.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.