Finally, SLEEK FLINT is running in Kenya

This is a guest post from Ali Mwanzei from the SLEEK team in Kenya.

Though the implementation of the System for Land-Based Emissions Estimation (SLEEK) Programme started in 2013, by the time the GoA support came to an end in 2016, there wasn’t enough technical capacity to operationalize the SLEEK FLINT (preparing data input, setting the FLINT run environment, running the FLINT, managing the output data, feeding the output data from FLINT run into the Reporting Tool and interpretation of the results). In the period September – December 2019, a joint SLEEK and Mullion Group team coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (ME&F) Kenya, came together in a Targeted Technical Support group to address the identified technical barriers.

The SLEEK-FLINT was tested at Kenya Forest Service (KFS), one of the semi-autonomous agencies of the ME&F. With the Mullion support, a team comprising IT, Remote Sensing and Forestry experts from different Government institutions (Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Directorate of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Survey of Kenya and Karatina University) were trained and involved in the runs. Several runs were actualised and in each case identified data issues were corrected. Beyond the Mullion support, the Government officers can now initiate a run based on improvements in data or inclusion of new data sets (e.g. new land cover maps).

In addition, the government officers learnt the use of the commercial software FLINT-Pro and used it to assess the effects of decisions in calculation of GHG emissions from the land sector based on the currently available tier 2 approach. Such decisions include, effects of time interval between land cover maps and use of the variety of land cover products. Such decisions are relevant for understanding Kenya’s Forest Reference Level and the National Inventory Report.

Moving forward, the Kenyan government needs to invest on hardware because SLEEK-FLINT is a computer intensive system that requires the capacity to conduct the billions of individual calculations rapidly over the many years of simulation – Kenya land cover maps currently span the period 1990 – 2018. Though the choice of installing SLEEK-FLINT at KFS was informed by the computing capacity that exists among the relevant institutions (computers with at least 32GB RAM and a 12 core, 24-thread processor), there is still a need to enhance this capacity by increasing the number of computers and their capacity. It was noted that the process of merging and converting the run products into the reporting tool has not been finalised due to this limitation. Due to this limitation, the actualised runs used only the forest module and two class land cover maps (Forest- Non forest). Secondly, the government of Kenya needs to invest time for its trained officers to continue practising the runs and support tier 3 reporting in future.