The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have signed an agreement that will use spaceborne data to build a geospatial database of the nation’s national resources and track its greening program.
PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., Ph.D., and DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga signed the memorandum of agreement on Monday, February 6, which would implement the project called “Use of Satellite Imagery in the Creation of the National ENR Geospatial Database and other related Programs of the DENR.”
It is believed that this endeavor, which will be funded by the DENR, will strengthen policy making that is based on scientific evidence.
“PhilSA welcomes this outstanding collaboration with the DENR. This is a concrete step in further strengthening the domestic space value chain, specifically the capacity to transform satellite imagery and spaceborne data into insights and actions for the conservation, protection, management, and restoration of our environment and natural resources. The partnership highlights the socio-economic benefits and value from our country’s emerging space capabilities,” Marciano said.
PhilSA and DENR will work together on the National Greening Program (NGP) Progress Monitoring and the National Resource Accounting Program (NRAP).
PhilSA will generate monthly indices or maps on vegetation trends and biophysical parameters, as well as develop methods to detect forest disturbance and forest cover classification for NGP Progress Monitoring.
It will also assist to enhance the capability of DENR in monitoring NGP areas and other forests using satellite remote sensing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and geographic information systems.
For the NRAP, the country’s space agency said it will develop methodologies to produce annual mangrove extent maps and air quality maps. In the following years, it will generate maps that cover other natural resources.
For both activities, PhilSA will provide the technical capacity training to help DENR’s personnel adopt applicable space technologies for the project, and develop systems and tools to map, monitor, and account the country’s natural resources.
“The space value chain… actually helps us identify valuable ecosystems, habitats, and ecosystems services’ potential that are critical to the country’s development. And we look forward to this particular endeavor, for being a small initial step but growing in terms of impact, importance, and resources towards building a resilient and inclusive Philippines,” Loyzaga said, underscoring the importance of the space value chain.
The cooperation agreement with the DENR is also aligned with PhilSA’s Key Development Areas on Hazard Management and Climate Studies (where the country develops and utilizes space science and technology applications to enhance hazard management and mitigation strategy and ensure the nation’s resilience to climate change), and Space Research and Development (to accelerate scientific growth in the areas of space science and technology and other allied fields).
PhilSA is likewise mandated under RA 11363 to assist other national government agencies and the private sector perform their functions and duties through the utilization of space science and technology applications.