Using Earth Observations to account for Greenhouse Gas emissions in Uganda

Published: Jul 06 2017

SERVIR has been strongly supporting the use of Earth observation technologies by countries in Eastern and Southern Africa to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through a partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and others, SERVIR undertook one of the largest ongoing mapping initiatives on the continent of Africa and generated land cover maps for nine different countries for at least two time periods.* These maps were intended as input for land use change activity data to estimate GHG emissions, which the countries could use in their national reporting commitments to UNFCCC.

Countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia have already been using these maps in their national communications to UNFCCC for Forest Reference Emissions Level. In addition, they requested support in effectively using these satellite-derived products in the calculation of their GHG inventories. To meet this need, SERVIR sought the scientific expertise of Dr. Stephen Ogle and PhD candidate Matt Ramlow from Colorado State University. SERVIR-Eastern & Southern Africa (E&SA) and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), Ogle, Ramlow, and the Government of Uganda, recently partnered in providing three workshops in Uganda to support national efforts to generate the country’s GHG inventory.

 Group photo of Uganda Workshop
Workshop participants  

The workshops sought to (1) build the capacity of national officials in the generation of GHG inventories following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines and best practices, (2) enhance compilation and calculation methods used in GHG inventory generation, and (3) specifically support the generation of the Uganda’s 3rd GHG inventory.

Ogle and his team have developed an advanced software system, the Agriculture and Land Use (ALU) National GHG Inventory software, to assist inventory compilers in developing and improving their national GHG inventories for the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector.

“The program is intended to ensure that inventories are transparent, accurate, complete, consistent across time, and comparable to inventories from other countries,” explains Ogle.

The workshops emphasized use of the ALU tool to compile GHG emissions for the AFOLU sector. The tool offers advanced functionality** beyond that available in the spreadsheets commonly used to compile GHG inventories.

“Officers from this AFOLU sector had complained about the complexity of using the IPCC tool for GHG emission inventorying; thus this ALU tool has gone a long way to ease these fears,” says Michael Mugarura, Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment Senior Climate Officer. “From this training, we were able to do a comparative analysis between the ALU and IPCC tools, and the officers almost unanimously agreed to prioritize the ALU tool for the AFOLU sector. It’s envisaged that this tool will ease work in terms of data compilation, analysis, archiving, and carrying out quality assurance/quality control.”

With these activities, SERVIR shows its commitment to address national needs based on input and feedback from stakeholders. The effort that started with mapping land cover using Earth observation datasets has evolved and built capacity along the way to account for GHG emissions from such datasets.

“We would like to thank SERVIR-E&SA/RCMRD for the tremendous work done in building Uganda’s capacity to report on GHG emissions,” says Mugarura. “The capacity building workshops were extremely successful and well received.”


*In some countries, data was created for three time periods.

**The ALU tool's advanced functionality provides compilers with (a) guidance through the process of the inventory analysis, (b) data management capabilities, (c) utilities that encourage good practices (including application of Tier 2 methods), and (d) prevention of errors in the inventory analysis. In addition, ALU tools include functions for quality assessment and quality control, documentation, and direct import of Geographic Information System (GIS) and Earth observation-derived datasets.

Phoebe Oduor of SERVIR-E&SA/RCMRD provided content for this article.

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