Open Foris software tools

The new Open Foris website is now online

Open Foris is an FAO-led initiative to develop, share and support specialized software tools required by countries and institutions to implement multi-purpose forest inventories.  It is a set of free and open-source software tools that facilitates flexible and efficient data collection, analysis and reporting. These tools are used to support countries in gathering, producing and disseminating reliable information on the state of forest resources that is vital to decision makers and other stakeholders.  Emphasis is placed on building sustainable capacity through the free sharing of all tools, documentation and source-code, thus promoting self-sufficiency, transparency and vendor independence.  In addition, being open-source means Open Foris software’s inner workings are open to review by peers, promoting higher quality tools and encouraging and facilitating partner contributions.

The initiative was created under the FAO-Finland Forestry Programme in collaboration with FAO’s support to National Forest Monitoring and Assessment (NFMA) and the UN-REDD Programme to address the growing need for accurate and timely information on the state of forest resources and their use and users.  Applying FAO’s broad experience in forest monitoring, Open Foris addresses cross-cutting needs through a set of highly flexible, easy-to-use software tools. Through FAO’s global network of partners and experts, tools are designed, tested, applied and improved to ensure they are relevant and provide real value to beneficiaries.

Open Foris tools are being built to support the entire inventory lifecycle, from needs assessment, design, planning, field data collection and management, estimation analysis, and dissemination.  Remote sensing image processing tools are included, as well as tools for international reporting such as for REDD+ MRV and FAO FRA.

Not all stakeholders have the same needs and capacity.  To address this, Open Foris is not designed as a single program or database, but rather as a set of software tools and standards which may be mixed and matched to best fit user needs.  Where applicable, open standards are used, guaranteeing maximum interoperability with existing local, national and international systems and infrastructure.  Application of standards also facilitates data portability, guaranteeing data is accessible independent of future technology decisions.


Open Foris Collect is the main entry point for data collected in field-based inventories. It provides a fast, easy, flexible way to set up a survey with a user-friendly interface. Collect handles multiple data types and complex validation rules, all in a multilanguage environment.

Open Foris Geospatial Toolkit is a collection of command-line utilities for processing of geographical data. It aims to simplify the complex process of transforming raw satellite imagery for automatic image processing to produce valuable information. It is particularly useful for processing big amounts of raster data, and provides a wide range of functionalities including image manipulation, statistics, segmentation and classification. The tools have been tested mainly in Ubuntu Linux environment although can be used with other linux distros, Mac OS, and MS Windows (Cygwin) as well.  Most of the stand-alone programs use GDAL libraries and many of the scripts rely heavily on GDAL command-line utilities.

Open Foris Calc is a robust tool for data analysis and results calculation. The input data and metadata come from Open Foris Collect and Calc provides a flexible way to produce aggregated results which can be analyzed and visualized through the open source software Saiku. Calc allows expert users to write custom R modules to perform calculations working with a variety of sampling designs.

Collect Earth is a tool that enables data collection through Google Earth. In conjunction with Google Earth, Bing Maps and Google Earth Engine, users can analyze high and very high resolution satellite imagery for a wide variety of purposes, including:

  • Support multi-phase National Forest Inventories
  • Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) assessments
  • Monitoring agricultural land and urban areas
  • Validation of existing maps
  • Collection of spatially explicit socio-economic data
  • Quantifying deforestation, reforestation and desertification

Collect Mobile is a fast, intuitive and flexible data collection tool for field-based surveys. This Android app allows the completion of complex data structures, such as biophysical, socio-economic or biodiversity surveys. Its many features include:

  • On-the-fly validation to improve data quality
  • Handling of large lists of species or other attributes
  • Geo-location through embedded GPS
  • Integration with Collect for data management, analysis and export to commonly used formats
  • Processes inputs and calculates attributes for quality control in the field



last updated:  Friday, March 13, 2015