New evidence reinforces inaccuracy of WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping

(foresthints.news) - New evidence derived from a ground-based observation conducted by foresthints.news (Nov 15-16) reinforces the fact that the LiDAR mapping coordinated by the World Resources Institute (WRI), which was designed to support the Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) in Central Kalimantan’s Pulang Pisau regency, did not involve accurate testing on the ground level.

As a result of this, the detailed analysis performed based on this LiDAR mapping has been proven to contain misleading data and information due to the omission of evidence pertaining to historical land cover changes in peat forests afflicted by 2015’s massive peat fires, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Nov 13).

This news report reflected the deep concern felt by foresthints.news on this issue, to the extent that we moved quickly to check the latest situation on the ground and, having done this, provide technical recommendations to the relevant parties associated with the WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping.

The new evidence confirms that the WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping in Pulang Pisau regency involved serious errors, chiefly by ignoring evidence of 2015’s burned peat forests, as seen in the photos below depicting the latest situation on the ground (Nov 16).

Parallel to this, the new evidence also proves that the Norwegian-funded LiDAR mapping cannot be used before it is corrected because the misclassification of land cover is a serious error, in both a technical and legal coverage.

Moreover, the Norwegian embassy's claim that the LiDAR mapping it financed produced detailed peat maps has also proved to be false, given that these so-called detailed peat maps have been found to contain seriously misleading data and information. 

Immediate revisions required

From a professional perspective, revisions to the serious mistakes in the LiDAR mapping must be made, whether the parties involved like it or not. The peat agency, as the main user of the detailed analysis from the LiDAR mapping, should certainly ask the WRI to coordinate the revision process.

After the revision process is completed, the peat agency needs to resubmit the revised analysis to other relevant government institutions, especially the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry. 

Considering that the WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping covered a very significant 336,000 hectares in the Kahayan hydrological landscape, the fact that it ignored evidence of 2015's burned peat forests means that an immediate revision should be a priority.

The following evidence, consisting of photographs of the latest ground-level situation (Nov 16), forms a strong basis for recommending to the peat agency and WRI that they revise the detailed analysis compiled from the LiDAR mapping.

If the detailed analysis is not revised, it would seem reasonable to suspect that the neglect of evidence of 2015's burned peat forests is a veiled attempt to downplay, through the LiDAR mapping, the scope of the peat forests affected by 2015's fires.

Furthermore, if not revised, then the detailed analysis of the Norwegian-funded LiDAR mapping can also not be used by government institutions because its substance is legally incorrect.

The misclassification of land cover in the WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping - which ignored the evidence of large swathes of 2015's burned peat forests - serves as a lesson learned in the context of international support for peat restoration efforts in Indonesia.

Whether or not the error ends up being revised will also serve as a lesson learned, given that the field-based and legal facts have already confirmed that the detailed analysis derived from the WRI-coordinated LiDAR mapping is definitely inaccurate.