Boosting transparency of forest data

Toward Forest Data Transparency: Lessons from Latin America, Africa, and Asia


The International Forestry Students' Association (IFSA) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a series of webinars featuring presentations from Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, and Papua New Guinea. The objective was to shed light on their respective efforts to enhance forest data transparency, crucial to sustainable forest management and climate change mitigation. 


Webinar 1: LatinAmérica, the case of Chile and Costa Rica:transparency, data accuracy, and institutionalization. 

In the first episode, representatives from Chile and Costa Rica demonstrated how Latin American countries are harnessing the power of technology and policy-making to enhance forest data transparency. Both countries have establisheda comprehensive National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), which they continue to enhance. 

While Costa Rica already has a comprehensive and functioning forest inventory system, the primary challenge highlighted was improving its effectiveness, ensuring its continuity, and integrating it into a broader monitoring system. Rafael Monge from Costa Ricastressed the importance of institutionalization, arguing that this is critical to sustaining and developing the forest inventory. Costa Rica's focus is now shifting to the implementation stage, and the strength of the institutional infrastructure will be the key determinant of the project's success. “Transparency and open data sharing are essential principles in the work of the forest inventory”, highlighted Rafael Monge. 

Chile's forest management efforts have been bolstered by its robust forest inventory and monitoring system. Georgina de Tujillo from the Chilean Forest Service (CONAF) outlined how Chile's approach to climate change, particularly focusing on the management of vegetation resources, was developed via an inclusive, participatory process, involving indigenous communities and women.Costa Rica, on the other hand, shared its success in combining robust policy frameworks with a focus on social inclusion, ultimately leading to a significant decrease in deforestation rates. 

In both cases the significance of transparency, data accuracy, and institutionalization in implementing NFMSs were emphasized, highlighting the challenges of institutionalization as a critical step to ensure long-term sustainability. 

Webinar 2. África, the case of Ghana, developing a multi-purpose NFMS. 

In the second episode, the spotlight shifted to Africa, with Ghana presenting its transparency journey. Despite having one of the highest deforestation rates globally, Ghana has made impressive strides towards curbing forest degradation. The country has instituted a system of forest reserves, and is working closely with communities to ensure sustainable forest management. The establishment of the National REDD+ Strategy and Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL) further underpin these efforts. 

Jacob Amoako, a Measurement, Reporting and Verification/ GIS Specialist for REDD+ at the Ghana Forestry Commission, Climate Change Department, and former IFSA member from Ghana, shed light on the progress, achievements, and challenges Ghana has faced in their journey towards forest data transparency. He highlighted Ghana's approach in developing a multi-purpose NFMS, moving from the subnational level in a phased approach to the national level to enhance transparency. 

Jacob's commitment to data transparency was apparent as he spoke about the willingness to share these data sets with organizations such as FAO for publishing in the  Food and Agriculture Microdata (FAM) Catalogue. However, he also emphasized the need to respect data privacy and rights, given the various contributions from different groups like the private sector. 


Webinar 3. Asia, the case of Papua New Guinea: its path towards forest transparency. 

The final webinar focused on Papua New Guinea (PNG) and its path towards forest transparency. PNG's approach to forest data transparency involves a multi-stakeholder process, integrating various government agencies into its initiatives. The country is committed to publishing a bi-annual Transparency Report (BTR) outlining the roadmap for enhancing transparency up to 2025.  

The PNG Forest Authority has been the primary government agency involved in these efforts so far. However, going forward, PNG aims to include other government departments, such as the Environment and Conservation Authority, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and Department of Lands and Physical Planning, in this multi-stakeholder approach.PNG has made significant progress in terms of its commitment to tackling climate change, as evidenced by its NFMS and development of monitoring services like the web portal and deforestation alert systems.  

However, the journey is not without its challenges. PNG faces geographical issues due to its rugged terrain, and land tenure concerns, as most of the land is owned by customary landowners. Furthermore, dealing with different local cultures poses additional difficulties. Despite these obstacles, PNG is exploring various ways to overcome these challenges, with a key focus on improved communication and engagement with local communities. 

As PNG continues to advance its transparency efforts, its story serves as a valuable lesson and inspiration for other countries on a similar path. The country's commitment to sustainable forest management and climate action, even in the face of numerous challenges, demonstrates the importance and potential impact of robust and transparent NFMSs. 



The three webinars underscored the importance of forest data transparency in sustainable forest management and climate action. Each country, despite diverse geographical and cultural contexts, presented unique solutions to address forest management. These webinars offer valuable lessons and inspire continued efforts towards forest transparency globally.