National Forest Monitoring

Community and human rights-based forest monitoring

Indigenous peoples and local communities are custodians of 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and manage at least 24 percent of the total carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests. Their broad and active engagement is essential to ensuring that local communities have the ability to fully participate in, contribute to, and benefit from forest monitoring activities. Community-based forestry monitoring - where government, indigenous committees, councils, and civil society actively participate – helps to build an important knowledge base of land-use dynamics and forest-cover change for forest policy frameworks. FAO also promotes national multi-stakeholder engagement in all stages of its national FREL/FRL development, from the initial planning stage to the final submission to the UNFCCC.

In Panama, indigenous representatives have learned how to use fixed-wing drones for community forest monitoring, with the support of FAO through the UN-REDD programme, the Ministry of Environment, and indigenous authorities. As some of the country’s main forest dwellers, indigenous peoples can play an invaluable role in monitoring and conserving forests, a fundamental resource for food security.

With FAO’s support, members of the main indigenous communities of Panama received training on the use of drones and other technologies to track changes in land use that could endanger forest ecosystems. 

More information:

Towards innovative, conflict-sensitive and human rights-based approaches to forest monitoring

Actions to monitor and measure the world’s forests have great potential to deliver benefits for multiple purposes. However, in some countries, conflicts or mixed governance land areas can pose challenges in working and engaging ethnic peoples and stakeholders in the measurement of forests. While delivering its support, FAO aims to ensure that the socio-political and cultural context is explicitly addressed through appropriate, conflict-sensitive, and human rights-based approaches. 

Such approaches provide insights into how to bolster sustainable forests in other fragile countries affected by conflicts that are frequently exacerbated by disputes over tenure and access to natural resources.

In recent years, national forest monitoring activities in Liberia have developed significantly. The country launched its first National Forest Inventory (NFI) in 2018, originating in Lofa County before expanding to the rest of Liberia. Here, communities play a key role in data reporting, conserving forest resources they depend on for their livelihoods. While Liberia completed its inventory in 2019 and launched the NFI report in March 2021, forest monitoring activities continue. In late 2020, FAO and the Forestry Development Authority embarked on community focused forest inventory activities to test a set of guidelines for community forest management planning. Three Authorized Forest Communities were chosen to take part in this pilot program where forest inventory methods were introduced to community members and implemented in a dedicated community forest inventory campaign. Work to support these communities continues with the cleaning and processing of forest data, which will be used to develop community forest management plans.

More information: