Programme Forêts et eau

FAO Forest-Water Monitoring Framework, A Year Later


A little more than a year has passed since approximately 20 international experts met for a three-day workshop at SIWI’s offices in Stockholm to develop indicators that measure forest-water relationships. The ambitious task responded to a repeated call to improve forest-water monitoring and evaluation, and the need to mainstream these indicators in forest and water management. Since then the indicators have been further developed, piloted and are now in the early stages of being developed into an online tool.

The year following the workshop has focused on refining the indicators and establishing a methodological foundation for the indicators. Through this, six thematic areas have been defined, spanning from direct bio-physical indices to indirect socio-economic benefits:

                                                           - Water Quantity and Timing

                                                           - Water Quality

                                                           - Water-related Ecosystem Services Delivery

                                                           - Practice/Management

                                                           - Legal, Institutional and Economic Frameworks

                                                           - Socio-Economic Benefits

Major contributions from the initial experts have continued with the help of cloud technology, as well as piloting the framework in the field and developing complementing monitoring tools. A web document has allowed for open collaboration and hashing out of various technical aspects. Jacob Bourgeois, First Climate, who oversees the technical development of the indicators, describes this as a year of ‘learning lessons’. Creating the framework has allowed the experts to draw from many sources in academia, government and private sectors. Like many involved, Jacob describes the process as incredibly enriching and has greatly benefited from partners coming together to make a pragmatic tool and approach to addressing forests and water. Linnea Jagrud, the Swedish Forest Agency, has contributed primarily to water quality and the use of biological markers. For this, she drew inspiration from the EU Directives on River Basin Management and the Swedish National Basis of Assessment for Lakes and Streams. “The most rewarding aspect of this process, thus, far has been validating the framework and process at international meetings,” said Elaine Springgay, the FAO Forestry Officer overseeing the process. She added, “We have received overwhelming support and positive feedback, and at the same time expanded our network.” Ultimately, the stakeholder engagement has proven that we are developing something that is needed and useful.

Moreover, 2017 provided an opportunity to pilot the monitoring framework in a 5-day Capacity Building Workshop in Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India, which contributed to the further development of both the monitoring framework as well as establish a foundation for a capacity development curriculum, which is currently under development.  



Developing the forests and water monitoring framework has been challenging due to the amount of new information the process has brought forth. Yet, those involved with the monitoring framework felt the aspect of deeper purpose collaborating on forests and water in itself has been most rewarding. Equally, taking time to review indices and put them to use in Khasi Hills, India has provided some wisdom to be shared with future facilitators applying the monitoring framework.


Next Steps

The second year of this process will concentrate on gaining feedback on the methodology, developing a logic to provide guidance on the use of the indicators, further piloting and launching the tool online for wider use. Activities in the first half of the year will polish the technical aspects and practice of the framework, beginning with January 2018, where a member of WeForest will return to the Khasi Hills group to assess the effectiveness and identify weaknesses of the training and framework. Simultaneously, technical experts will be developing this into a web tool to be launched August 2018.