An International Meeting on Twenty-Five Years of Community Forestry: Mapping Tree Dynamics in the Middle Hills of Nepal

Meeting Location: 
Annapurna Hotel, Nepal
Meeting date: 
Thursday, November 29, 2018 to Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Science Meeting – November 29-30; Training Using Google Earth Engine - December 3rd and 4th, 2018

Meeting Venue

Annapurna Hotel, 1245 Durbarg Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal; +977 14221711 | F:+97714225 236

Meeting Objectives:

Since the 1980s, Nepal has gained worldwide recognition for path breaking achievements in community forest management. Forests account for upwards of 45% of Nepal’s national land area (nearly 6.5 million ha) and are one of the country’s major productive resources, contributing about 10% to the gross domestic product. In 1988, Nepal’s Department of Forests (DoF) identified 61% of the nation’s total forest area (3.5 million ha) as forest that could be transferred legally to local communities and managed for their benefit. Today, community forests occupy nearly 23% of Nepal’s total forest area (1.8 million ha), the management of which involves over 22,000 community forest user groups comprising 1.8 million households and nearly 40% of Nepal’s population. The spatially-explicit impacts of this transition in forest management have not been documented in part due to the difficulty of mapping tree cover in mountainous environments where remote sensing imagery analysis is hindered by topographic effects, e.g., shading, the presence of clouds, snow, and ice, and the inaccessibility of areas of rugged terrain for ground truth data collection. Indeed, only a few national scale forest surveys have been conducted. Mapping Nepal’s forest transition and developing a comprehensive understanding of factors underlying observed changes in tree cover are critical if Nepal is to improve upon its already successful resource initiative. We distinguish between tree cover and forests because in the Middle Hills a number of unirrigated agricultural lands have been abandoned and replaced with tree cover. Our remote sensing work does not distinguish between closed canopy forests and tree canopy so where possible we prefer to use the term ‘tree cover’.

This meeting seeks to quantify the rate, extent, and socioeconomic importance of Nepal’s tree transition based on three decades of Landsat satellite data and spatial modeling. The meeting has four overarching themes:  

  1. Describing project methodologies (satellite image processing, census and interview data analysis, and spatial modeling)
  2. Documenting annual tree cover change since 1990 at 30m spatial resolution
  3. Identifying physiographic and socioeconomic variables associated with tree cover change and quantify their respective influences, and
  4. Assessing how foreign labor migration and remittances correlate to tree cover and the future of community forestry in Nepal

Meeting Registration 

Registration is closed. Due to the logistic issues, we are not accepting any more new participants. 

Contact Dr. Jefferson Fox (

Main Scientific Organizers

  • Dr. Ram Chhetri, Resources Himalaya. Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Dr. Naya Sharma Paudel, ForestAction, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Dr. Jefferson Fox, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

International Scientific Support

  • Dr. Garik Gutman, NASA LCLUC Program Manager
  • Dr. Krishna Vadrevu, NASA SARI Scientist

Meeting Draft : Scientific presentations

  • Background/overview of forest products 1990 and 2010
  • Terrain correction and image compositing
  • Tree cover change and geographic analysis
  • Socioeconomic change
  • Spatial modeling
  • Integration of tree cover change

Training Dates: December 3rd and 4th, 2018

Training Objectives

Hands-on workshop with Google Earth Engine; training in accessing and analyzing annual, nation-wide tree cover data. We will introduce the cloud-based Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform for Big Data remote sensing analysis, and provide hands-on training with a range of processing techniques and open-access datasets available through GEE. With an understanding of GEE in place, we will discuss in detail the new 25-year Nepal tree cover/change dataset including its methodology, accuracy, and derived products. For comparison, we will also discuss access and use of the Hansen et al. global forest cover dataset.

Training Agenda [ Google Earth Engine Training Flyer - Hurni VDH - Nov 1 V.2.pdf]


  • Dr. Jamon Van Den Hoek (Oregon State University)
  • Dr. Kaspar Hurni (University of Bern), and
  • Dr. Alexander Smith (Oregon State University)

Tentative schedule:

December 3 – GEE fundamentals

09:00-10:30am        Introduction to Google Earth Engine; Javascript API tour; GEE data concepts (e.g. collections); code sharing and saving

10:30-10:45am        Break

10:45-12:00pm        Exploring and visualizing available GEE raster datasets – focus on Landsat 8, MODIS, and Sentinel-2

12:00-01:00pm        Lunch

01:00-03:00pm        Filtering imageCollections and featureCollections; applying functions and algorithms to the collections (e.g. map, reducers)

03:00-03:15pm        Break

03:15-05:00pm        Band correlation/covariance, image enhancements, and band combinations

December 4 – Project specific components

09:00-10:30am        Terrain correction, change detection, and temporal compositing

10:30-10:45am        Break

10:45-12:00pm        Linear trend fitting; supervised classification

12:00-01:00pm        Lunch

01:00-02:00pm        Working with the Hansen global forest cover dataset

02:00-02:15pm        Break

02:15-05:00pm        Working with the new 25-year Nepal tree cover/change dataset