By Prof Moses Azong Cho
Biodiversity conservation and management is a major concern in Africa where the increasing population of the continent is largely dependent on the dwindling natural resource base for their livelihood. The advent of new freely available satellite imageries such as Sentinel- 2 and Landsat-8 have offered new opportunities for biodiversity assessment and monitoring on the African continent. The improved spatial and spectral resolutions of these new satellites have also renewed demands for algorithm or methodological protocol development, particularly for African diverse landscapes. It is for the above reason that Prof Cho Moses, the African Association of Remote Sensing (AARSE) convener of the technical committee on algorithm development and application in collaboration with the Faculty of Geo-Information Science (ITC), University of Twente, The Netherlands organised a two-week refresher course on “Vegetation mapping and monitoring using Sentinel 2 data”, at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Pretoria, South Africa, 14-25 November 2016. Twenty participants from 10 different African countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, took part in the refresher course. The participants included remote sensing and GIS professionals working in the private and public sectors. The course programme included lectures on the importance of essential biodiversity variables, downloading and process of Sentinel-2 images, physically-based and empirical methods to retrieve essential biodiversity variables from Sentinel-2 images, MATLAB programming, practical field visit to measure essential biodiversity variables and practical exercises. In general, the refresher course provided an opportunity for learning, discussion, practical field experiments and exercises with Sentinel-2 images. The refresher course was facilitated by ITC (Dr. Roshanak Darvishzadeh, Prof. Andrew Skidmore and Dr. Tiejun Wang) and CSIR (Prof Cho Moses, Dr Abel Ramoelo) scientists. The refresher course was funded by NUFFIC through ITC and the CSIR.