Finnish technology group VTT reports it has a new satellite-based imaging system that will help more accurately assess tropical forest cover and assist with deforestation verification efforts in tropical forest regions.

The firm's imaging method maps tropical forest cover by using satellite images with a resolution of 10 to 30 meters. The accuracy of the images is then checked against a statistical sample from satellite images of a resolution of 1 meter. By periodically sampling the data at a super-high resolution, the researchers contend it will ensure the greater satellite mapping method does not over -- or underestimate the total forested area.

VTT is teamed up with the ReCover project for sustainable forest management, which is tied to the United Nations REDD Program aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.

The recent UN climate talks in Warsaw sought to advance the REDD initiative, which calls upon industrialized countries to contribute to compensation for the conservation and sustainable management of of tropical forests regions in developing countries where deforestation is progressing rapidly. Participants of the climate talks have said recent advancements of the REDD program were some of the greatest successes of the Warsaw conferences.

Under the new agreements, developing countries with logged forests that show they are making and effort to provide safeguards for local communities and biodiversity will be eligible to receive money for their efforts through the REDD initiative.

"The ministers have been working for almost 10 years to finalize the rules which will allow donors to invest in forest management practices in the developing world and get a way to verify the emissions reductions," Paul Bledsoe, an energy research fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told the BBC.

"I think this agreement allowing for investments in forests in developing countries is probably the signature achievement of these talks."

Recent efforts by the ReCover project mapped forest cover in Mexico, Guyana, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Fiji islands. By the end of next year, new Sentinel observation satellites will be launched into orbit. According to VTT researcher Tuomas Häme, the image data collected by the satellites will be "highly suitable for forest monitoring."

Click here to read FAO deforestation statistics.