Boosting transparency of forest data

FAO webinar calls for action towards open data to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals


Data are essential for effective, evidence-based decision and policymaking. In many cases, these data already exist, but are not accessible.

A webinar was organized last October by the Office of Chief Statistician of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to present the Food and Agriculture Microdata Catalogue (FAM), a resource that guarantees access to the data necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These data are often expensive and even difficult to obtain; in many cases, they cannot be accessed. As Pietro Gennari, Chief Statistician at FAO, pointed out, "the data ended up being stored and unable to be used", which resulted in the loss in investment made to obtain them. If these data are made available, they can generate initiatives and support decision making, both from the field of research and application.

The FAM catalogue was launched in July 2019 to promote greater access to microdata on food security, nutrition and agriculture. To date, FAM has published more than 1204 datasets from 185 countries, providing access to the main relevant documentation of the datasets and, in most cases, their microdata. As Yakob Seid, Statistician at FAO, stated, the goal of the FAM catalogue is to be a “one-stop-shop for finding microdata related to food, agriculture, nutrition, forestry and all other related domains relevant to FAO's mandate”.

During the webinar, Rocío D. Cóndor-Golec, Forestry Officer at FAO, presented the collection related to the forestry data present in the FAM, stating that “National forest inventories are an integral component of a national forest monitoring system, and they help to compile data and provide estimates on relevant variables about characteristics of forests and forested landscapes”.

Countries need to be supported and encouraged to make their data transparent and accessible. For all these reasons, countries that have included their data in the FAM catalogue have added great value, since obtaining forest data implies a huge cost in time and resources. Forest inventories collect a large amount of information, with a high cost of acquiring samples from a country's forests. In addition, comprehensive legal arrangements, based on trust and continued support, are necessary for the creation of clear, well-structured, open and transparent forest data exchange.

The document, "Towards open and transparent forest data for climate action: Experiences and lessons learned", analysed these initiatives and presented an important takeaway for forest monitoring professionals: the open exchange of data can save time on creating climate resilience and increasing the profitability of resources.

Open and accessible data and information are essential to strengthen climate action and environmental protection, as well as other social and economic issues. For this reason, data from the agriculture, food and forestry sector promote the implementation of several SDGs, including SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on land), and less directly, SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 5 (Gender equality) and SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy).

Watch the webinar in at the following links: 


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