Preparing for the Global Forest Survey

11-13 November 2015, Rome

This week, FAO will bring together around 30 country representatives and forestry experts from research institutions and intergovernmental organizations to consolidate the planning for the Global Forest Survey (GFS) project. 

The project will establish a global network of forestry sample plots to produce freely available and comparable forest data about the characteristics and health status of specific forest ecosystems (not limited by country borders).  As well as promoting free and open data policies for forestry field data, the project will provide improved estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and removals factors associated with forest and other natural ecosystems.

To do so, GFS will establish a partnership of technical and research organizations to collect forest inventory data.  National and international policy-makers, researchers, NGOs, and the international conventions (UNFCCC, CBD, UNCCD) will be able to use the findings to support better decision-making, improved implementation of international processes and more robust scientific understanding and analysis of forest ecosystems.

The forestry experts will prepare background papers on data policy, management and licensing issues; design and measurement protocols; partnership governance and outreach; and methodology for final endorsement by the project's Founding Committee in 2016.

Implemented by FAO, the project is supported by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) of Germany.

Specific objectives of the Global Forest Survey

  • Develop a global network of permanent sample plots located and measured according to specified protocols. This network will use existing sample plots where possible, but will also include the establishment of new sample plots.
  • Based on the sample plots and remote sensing data, produce a detailed, geo-referenced global estimate of forest carbon, forest health, and other forest characteristics.
  • Develop an information portal and data-sharing policy to make all the data associated with the global estimate freely available, as well as all other data acquired.
  • Develop improved greenhouse gas emission factors at regional level for submission to the IPCC Emission Factor Online Database.
  • Demonstrate the value of a single, permanent, freely available, web-based repository of global data on forest carbon, forest health and other characteristics.


last updated:  Thursday, November 12, 2015