could also determine access points—how to get into a particular site to do measurements.
Most of all, over time, this kind of information gives people a high level of confidence that, in fact, what you say is there, is there. Whether in the United States or in a remote place in Bolivia, pictures are sometimes more convincing than statistical reports full of tables of data. We are excited that this aerial monitoring system cannot only take measurements but can also increase the confidence in near-term markets because of their potential to buy time in the short term while other technologies are being developed.
Thanks to developments on the Internet in the last two years, this information may also be layered into a data-rich field. It is now possible to add all kinds of data layers. We can put down a topographic map, overlay the hydrology on top of it, put in the road system, gas pipelines, transmission lines, put down land-sat photos. When you go to a particular project site and lay in that image, the new data you collect can be layered onto all of the existing data from the Internet. This means this tool can be used for a much broader range of environmental assessments and change detection.
At any point in a flight, you can look down at a specific location, ask what is going on, and take a measurement. By moving my cursor over a tree, for instance, I can tell how tall the tree is. If I want to know the distance between a road and a particular point, I can do the same kinds of measurements in real time off a dataset, knowing all of the other details that are embedded in this image for tracking purposes. For forest certification stewardship, just in terms of harvesting, we can tell how many trees were taken out in a selective harvest; we can also measure the size of those trees and how many board-feet of timber was probably in those trees. This method of data collection could be used not just for single points but also for large areas.
Let me close by saying that we are very concerned about the integrity of measurement systems. We need transparent standards based on good science. We believe new imaging tools will reduce overall monitoring costs and enable us to measure a broader range of environmental attributes for projects and, at the same time, make the projects more credible. All in all, we think that it will be possible to make accurate measurements for forestry projects anywhere in the world at low cost.
Brown, S., O. Masera, and J. Sathaye. 2000. Project-Based Activities. Chapter 5 in Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, R.T. Watson et al., eds. Special Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Available online at http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc/land_use/index.htm