Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Remote Sensing and Deforestation Drivers Consultant

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Job Description

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  • FAO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality, background, and culture
  • Qualified female applicants, qualified nationals of non-and under-represented member nations, and person with disabilities are encouraged to apply
  • Everyone who works for FAO is required to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professional conduct and to uphold our values. FAO has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and FAO, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority, and discrimination
  • All selected candidates, therefore, will undergo rigorous reference and background checks
  • All applications will be treated with the strictest confidentiality
  • The incumbent may be re-assigned to different activities and/or Duty Stations depending on the evolving needs of the Organization
Organizational Setting The “Global Transformation of Forests for People and Climate: a focus on West Africa” is a 5-year collaborative project between, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen decision-making on forests and land management, and enhance the capacity at sub-regional level through ECOWAS and other sub-regional partners to implement the Forest Convergence Plan. The three priority focus areas relate to 1) Improving the sub-regional knowledge of forest status and dynamics, 2) Strengthening and harmonizing forest and land-related laws, policies and strategies at the sub-regional level, and 3) Demonstrating community-based sustainable forest and land use practices and encouraging South-South cooperation The Focus Area 1 of the project foresees:
  • Under output 1.1 and activity 1.1.3 to undertake forest and land use/land cover change assessments using remote sensing technology and develop sub-regional capacities in remote sensing.
  • Under output 1.3 to improve the understanding of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the sub-region and assess current options and opportunities to address them.
Reporting Lines The consultant will work under the overall supervision of the FAO Sub Regional Coordination for West Africa, the direct supervision of the Project manager of the project “Global transformation of Forests for People and Climate”, the technical guidance of the International Remote Sensing/GIS Expert in FAO (HQ) and in collaboration with the NFI expert.

Technical Focus The consultant will support the implementation of focus area 1 of the project “Global Transformation of Forests for People and Climate: a focus on West Africa”, specifically in relation to the assessment of forest and land use/land cover change, and of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, using remote sensing/GIS technology, including the use of FAO open source tools (Open Foris, SEPAL, Collect Earth Online).

Tasks and responsibilities
  • Undertake a literature review on existing land use/land cover classification systems in West Africa; Organise SEPAL training on land use/land cover classification, change detection, and accuracy assessment to Remote Sensing/GIS staff in West African countries, including the WANEM-LULC network of experts;
  • Compile and assess existing national and regional studies on drivers of deforestation, forest degradation and other land use change and identify gaps/needs for further Analysis;
  • Develop and validate a methodology and operational procedures to undertake land use/land cover change analysis and Mapping, using satellite imagery time series specific to the West Africa sub-region;
  • Work with the West African Network of Experts on mapping & Spatial Analysis (WANEM-LULC) to undertake spatial analysis of land cover and land use changes, using FAO Open source tools (, for the periods 2015-2020, leading to a land cover change map 2015-2020;
  • Lead in the production and validation of an updated land use/land cover map for West Africa (for 2020), and derived LCML national maps disaggregated by countries; in collaboration with the WANEM-LULC country teams, and the FAO REDD and SEPAL team in Rome; produce a sampling Design of the land cover change product to identify and quantify, in collaboration with country experts, the current and historical direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in West Africa;
  • Select a sub-sample, especially at neighbouring country borders to serve as potential (trans-boundary) “hotspots” for the “Qualitative Drivers of deforestation and forest degradation Study”;
  • Lead the production of final report on direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in West Africa 2015-2020, including areal sampling statistics on areas changes/accuracy assessment;
  • Prepare and submit the final consultancy report.
  • Advanced university degree in Remote Sensing and GIS with strong forestry background;
  • 7 years of relevant experience in forest land use/land cover mapping and spatial analysis using remote sensing/GIS techniques and tools;
  • Working knowledge of English or French and limited knowledge of the other one.
FAO Core Competencies
  • Results Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement
Technical/Functional Skills
  • Work experience in more than one location or area of work;
  • Very good sense of organization and ability to meet tight deadlines;
  • Ability to prioritize tasks;
  • Ability to work in a harmonious and effective way in a multicultural team;
Selection Criteria
  • Excellent knowledge and experience in the use of GIS software (e.g. Arcgis, QGIS,…), and remote sensing software, including free and open source and/or cloud based solutions (GDAL, Google Earth Engine, SEPAL); knowledge of programming languages such as R or Python is an asset.
  • Experience with analysis of drivers, socio-economic studies and/or spatial statistics.
  • Relevant professional experience on ecosystems and land use classification systems in West Africa will be an asset.
  • Working knowledge of REDD MRV procedures and its implementation in the context of the UNFCCC.
  • Knowledge of Portuguese will be an asset.
  • Ability to work with limited supervision and deliver results within deadlines.
  • High quality organizational, analytic and report writing skills.
Please note that all candidates should adhere to FAO Values of Commitment to FAO, Respect for All and Integrity and Transparency
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