Monitoring and Assessment

Assessment and monitoring of the environment is an essential requirement for the sustainable management of natural resource, environmental protection, food security, humanitarian programmes, social and economic development as well as dealing with issues related to climate change.

To be able to attribute the causes of climate change, analyse the potential impacts, evaluate the adaptation options and enable the characterization of extreme events such as flood, droughts and heat waves, globally consistent monitoring need to be undertaken. Such information is also an important prerequisite in the development and implementation of international agreements related to mitigation issues such as incentives in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).


FAO supports and undertakes a number of monitoring and assessment activities. For examples, FAO works actively and globally in partnership with, currently, 55 countries to improve and establish long-term and robust monitoring systems of forest, based on systematic field sampling and data collection. At international level, FAO supports countries to report to the Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA), which is the leading global reporting process on forests, their management and use. In addition FAO continues to work in close collaboration with its member countries to help them to meet their international requirements and obligations such as forest carbon reporting. At national level, FAO has been engaged in assessments of climate change impact on crop yields and food security and capacity building for climate change adaptation.

FAO also undertakes a number of land cover mapping initiatives, including the assessment and monitoring of land cover change, through a number of programmes and initiatives (e.g. the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN). FAO is also supporting the development of standards (such as the Land Cover Classification System – LCCS) which are required to ensure harmonization of data and the development of regional and global data sets. Other important monitoring activities are also undertaken for fire and water availability.

In addition, FAO hosts the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) which has the mandate to improve the quality, coverage and accessibility of terrestrial ecosystem data required to detect, quantify, understand and warn of changes in ecosystem. In particular GTOS supports the implementation of the 13 terrestrial Essential Climate Variables which have been identified as fundamental observations required by the UNFCCC to achieve its objectives.


last updated:  Wednesday, December 5, 2012