It’s been quiet here at 14N 121E the past seven months. I’ve been transitioning to my new research job at the Department of Biological Sciences at National University of Singapore. After five fruitful years at Fauna & Flora International’s Philippines country programme, which is part of a productive career spanning fifteen years in conservation work, I am back to doing research in academia where my professional career all began for me.

I keep thinking the past 2-3 years have been a transition to return to my beginnings. Perhaps I am starting to come full circle? Well, nothing in this professional journey has ever been straightforward. I am thankful though that the jump from the non-government sector to academia continues to allow me to be involved in conservation, albeit at a different portion of the spectrum: that of doing good science and research to inform and support conservation interventions such as policy and site-level actions.

I’ve been meaning to post updates many times but several things, on top of acclimatising to my new work environment, also equally kept me from finding the time such as recovering after getting sick and being hospitalised, finishing the thesis, and concluding remaining bits of my msc degree, not to mention adjusting to living by myself and the realities of the physical distance with family, and other distractions.

Well, after this short post, it seems I’ll be back to blogging again. Cheers.


Last week, I received news that our abstract was accepted for oral presentation at the Living Planet Symposium 2016 (LPS16), based on the scientific committee reviews. Our paper entitled, Identifying priority high conservation value areas using earth observation data to support site-level interventions in Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Philippines, is scheduled for presentation on Day 3 as part of the series of biodiversity sessions.

I am not sure whether there are other presentations from the Philippines in this upcoming symposium, or if others have been made in the past symposia. But I am elated for sure that we have an opportunity to share our past work at LPS16 on 09 to 13 May 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic.

In addition to presenting our paper, I am looking forward to the discussions about remote sensing for Essential Biodiversity Variables (RS4EBV); applications of earth observation for biodiversity and conservation; the topics on tropical forests, forest biomass, and REDD+; updates about earth observation missions such as ALOs-2, the Sentinels, and BIOMASS; and the dedicated tutorials and demonstrations.

The LPS16 is organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) with support from the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. The main objectives of the symposium are to:

  • Present the progress and plans for the implementation of ESA earth observation strategy and the relevance of ESA’s EO programme to societal challenges, science and economy;
  • Provide an international forum to scientists, researchers and users to present and share state of the art results based on ESA’s earth observation and third-party mission data;
  • Review the development of earth observation applications.
  • Present the Copernicus space component and operational services.
  • Report on ESA’s exploitation programmes such as the Climate Change Initiative, Data User Element, and Scientific Exploration of Operational Missions, among others;
  • Introduce the current and future planned earth observation missions;
  • Outline ESA’s international cooperation in the field of earth observation; and
  • Provide dedicated thematic tutorials and demonstrations.

For more information, you can the ESA LPS16 website and check out the preliminary programme.

[Update: 01 Oct 2016]

Unfortunately, my plans to attend the ESA LPS16 did not push through this year as I was transitioning to my new research job at the National University of Singapore from my previous one at Fauna & Flora International. That’s too bad. Perhaps that gives me reason to look forward instead to the next symposium, LPS19, in three years time.

ALOS-2/PALSAR-2 global mosaics released.

A few days ago, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency finally released the long-awaited global mosaics from the ALOS-2/PALSAR-2 satellite, which was launched in 24 May 2014.

The 2015 data consists of the 25m mosaic data (at HH and HV polarisations) and the forest/non-forest map product, both at global coverage and free of charge for public use. The datasets can be downloaded through their website via this link. In addition to the 2015 dataset, the historical data acquired by PALSAR annually from 2007 to 2010 may also be downloaded from the same page. New users will be required to register prior to gaining access to the datasets, while users with existing accounts only need to remember their log-in details.

Of course, as soon as I read this news, I downloaded the dataset straightaway. To whet your appetite, enjoy the next couple of images of the surrounding environs of Manila Bay in the Philippines to showcase the mosaic datasets: first, showing a 2015 PALSAR-2 color composite; and second, a multi-temporal color composite consisting of 2007-2010-2015 images.


A 2015 PALSAR-2 color composite image (RGB: HH-HV-HH/HV) showing Manila Bay, Philippines and its environs, including parts of Metropolitan Manila, Bulacan province, Bataan Peninsula and Subic Bay, Cavite province and portion of Taal Lake. (Copyright: JAXA/METI)


A multi-temporal color composite image combining PALSAR and PALSAR-2 HH-polarisation data (RGB: 2007-2010-2015). Shown here is Manila Bay, Philippines and its environs. Generally, colored pixels indicate changes in landscape features from 2007 to 2015, while grey pixels indicate no change. (Copyright: JAXA/METI)

A huge thank you to JAXA, the Japanese government, and most especially the people of Japan for this great contribution to science and to the world.

You can also read more information about the global 25m resolution PALSAR-2 mosaic data and 2015 forest/non-forest map from JAXA’s press release.