Apply Knowledge Globally

Forest Service statistician provides technical support to Costa Rican colleagues

Dr. Paul Patterson, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, shares a presentation during the recent workshop in Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of SIMOCUTE
Dr. Paul Patterson, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, shares a presentation during the recent workshop in Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of SIMOCUTE

COSTA RICA – USDA Forest Service statistician Paul Patterson, from Rocky Mountain Research Station, shared technical assistance during a work session and delivered a technical workshop to Costa Rican partners in support of their National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring System; known by its Spanish acronym, SIMOCUTE. These activities provided guidance on the analysis of land use and land cover data photo-interpreted from high-resolution imagery from sample plots across the country.

The data gathered will provide consistent and robust information on the state and change of Costa Rica’s lands, satisfying a variety of monitoring and reporting needs. The activities were coordinated by the Costa Rica Climate Fellow Randy Hamilton, who has been supporting the design of SIMOCUTE for several years. Funding was provided by the SilvaCarbon program, a U.S. Government inter-agency effort.

Hamilton has provided technical support to the government of Costa Rica since 2015, offering guidance on the development of SIMOCUTE. This monitoring system includes several integrated subsystems such as a national forest inventory, a system to create maps for the country, and the previously mentioned land use and land cover monitoring system based on photo-interpreting these attributes from high-resolution imagery, among others. SIMOCUTE will supply the data for Costa Rica’s National Forest Monitoring System, inform decisions and satisfy the needs of various national and international initiatives. The key objectives of the recent work session and training were to build local capacity to analyze photo-interpreted data to update the country’s forest reference emission level for the REDD+ program.

This collaboration is part of a broader program, sponsored by SilvaCarbon and implemented by the Forest Service, which aims at building capacity in Costa Rica to understand and apply appropriate statistical analysis procedures to analyze the photo-interpreted data. As part of this program, Costa Rican professor Mauricio Vega spent a week in the US in April 2019 working with Patterson and USFS Forester Tracey Frescino, from Rocky Mountain Research Station, to document analysis procedures and modify a software tool to process the data. In July, Vega delivered a preliminary training on the analysis tool for his Costa Rican colleagues; he delivered two follow-on trainings in August.