Mapping of Grassland Extent, Condition and Biomass in Armenia

Period of Performance: 01.07.2020 –31.08.2021
Funding Organization: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Natural fodder areas, such as pastures and grasslands constitute 39% of the total territory of RA and 57% of the agricultural lands and are a vital resource for the livestock keeping and represent an important value for biodiversity and ecosystem services․ These areas are at risk of advancing soil erosion and degradation caused by over-grazing. In addition, holistic approaches to the sustainable and biodiversity-friendly use of natural resources are lacking in Armenia. Hence, the setup of an integrated management approach for decision-making processes becomes important, emphasizing the need for robust spatial data.

According to the feasibility study, implemented by GIZ, there is a lack of technical and financial capabilities and thematic and scientific expertise, as well as lack of data availability, quality, and exchange practices within the institutions in the public sector related to data management and analysis. The main recommendation of the feasibility study is to create, as an initial phase, a basic, data-centric information system, which would form the backbone of the future system that would include transactional and analytical functionality in support of the management functions of the key stakeholders.

In this context, the “Mapping of Grassland Extent, Condition, and Biomass in Armenia” project is implemented by ICARE with GIZ local subsidy financing.

The aims of the “Mapping of Grassland Extent, Condition, and Biomass in Armenia” project are:

1)contribution to the mapping of non-grassland/grassland areas for 2020 in Armenia and assessment of the potential to differentiate pastures and hay meadows,

2)contribution to the mapping of grassland condition,

3)contribution to the estimation of grassland biomass,

4)contribution to the estimation of grassland carrying capacities,

5)capacity building of public sector institutions through on-the-job training.

It is worth mentioning, that through contributing to the development of a data-driven integrated management system in Armenia, ICARE aims to become the think tank for enhancing the data-centric information system within the country.

 

The project has 3 main work packages (WP), which allows us to achieve the project goals.

WP 1. In situ data collection:

To provide complete and sound information on the land fund and agroecosystem, and to support mapping efforts, in the Republic of Armenia, comprehensive field reviews and initial assessment are carried out by selected sites throughout the country. For data collection with field assessment, a two-stage stratified sampling method is applied. Following the criteria of homogeneity and land cover types, the homogenous sampling sites are selected in different landscapes and climatic zones of the particular region (the detailed methodology has been developed based on the mutual agreement with GIZ and The German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

To provide complete and sound information on the land fund, natural landscapes and agro-ecosystems in the administrative territory of the Republic of Armenia, as well as to support their correct mapping efforts, in the framework of this project, the comprehensive field reviews and assessment is carried out in the natural landscapes and agroecosystems of 400 representative plots in 10 marzes in the RA administrative territory including classifications of 6 main ground types: 1) pastures, 2) natural grasslands, 3) bushlands, 4) other vegetation of land plots, 5) arable lands, and 6) bare soil areas with sparse vegetation.

In addition, a biomass measurement in a total of 140 sites is being conducted solely for the grasslands class (pastures and Meadows) for estimation of grassland/meadows carrying capacities.

The data are being collected based on the developed observation card and the standardized methodology. The following minimum data will be collected from each plot:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates with an accuracy of ± 5m,
  • Assignment of the plot to an LC class,
  • Photographs in all four compass directions as well as a downwards looking photo,
  • Categorical observations regarding grassland condition (and visible erosion),
  • Biomass, other.

 

WP 2. Contribution to capacity building for ICARE specialists:

A capacity building workshop for ICARE and project partners from the involved public institutions and academia will be conducted by The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in order to facilitate the necessary capacity building in Armenia. The course will focus on the handling of the methods and data sets developed within the project to ensure the knowledge transfer for future independent use. The capacity-building workshops will include:

  • GIS exercises in ArcGIS: basic level introduction, including the familiarization with raster and shape data types, visualization, as well as basic statistical analysis for different spatial zones
  • Basic remote sensing image processing: handling and visualization of multispectral images; data types; index and metrics calculation; simple land cover classification – software to be defined.

 

WP 3. Technical and human capacity building in public sector։ In the scope of the project, on-the-job training will be conducted for the respective employees of MoE and local governmental bodies (Pilot marzes (Shirak and Lori)). The training will include information in Geographical Information Systems, Remote Sensing, and image processing at management and technical expert levels. This will allow the departments to independently create analytical products with publicly available spatial and non-spatial datasets, learn data management techniques.

 

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