National Forest Monitoring

Satellite Land Monitoring Systems (SLMS) & web geoportals

FAO helps countries to identify and collect activity data for their relevant land use and change (LULUC), forestry, REDD+ and other forest related activities. For example, spatial data on deforestation and afforestation/reforestation is typically collected through satellite data and the changes can be monitored through a satellite land monitoring system. FAO supports and facilitates country processes to develop national capacities to conceptualize, design and implement a national SLMS for forestry and LULUC and to monitor area changes. Such information is the basis for data input into national greenhouse gas inventories, Forest Reference (Emission) Level (FREL/FRL) construction, REDD+ results and BR & NDC reporting. Information on forest areas and area changes from SLMS can also support domestic efforts and implementation as for example to improve forest management and forest conservation. 

Many countries publish their national forest products on publicly available web geoportals, which increases data transparency for the public and for (inter)national reporting mechanisms. FAO supports generation of the activity data by assisting the countries with mapping-related programming, administration and accuracy assessments of existing national and global products in order to generate country estimates. As well, FAO provides technical support to assist with conceptualisation, design and deployment of national data portals.

The UN-REDD Programme has deployed 22 portals in countries in three regions, and is in the design phase for a few others. These will be launched following consultations with government on the data publication and the portals will be maintained in the country by government staff. Training sessions as well as maintenance trainings are also planned. At the country level, technical support for this work includes discussing technical options and practical solutions for SLMS, supporting country decisions on generation and dissemination of data, and supporting domestic momentum toward improved forest monitoring and improved forest management.

SLMS activities include:

  • Support countries in generating, using and improving maps and land/forest cover statistics,
  • Support countries in generating activity data for reporting to international climate frameworks,
  • Conceptualize and disseminate geospatial data,
  • Capacity building on technical issues,
  • Tailor-made technical support,
  •  Conceptualization, development and deployment of web geoportals.

Key facts

  • FAO’s work on SLMS over the last decade has triggered the development of user-friendly land and forest monitoring methods that are easily applied in developing countries (e.g. data accuracy assessment of maps, development of the cloud-based processing platform of SEPAL, satellite data processing modules, and other Open Foris modules).
  • In the last ten years, the SLMS team has assisted over 50 developing countries in generating, analysing and improving the national activity data for national use, international reporting, and to improve their forest management.
  • Almost 10 years of joint FAO-INPE (Brazilian National Institute for Space Research) trainings in tropical forest monitoring have resulted in the training of over 500 technicians in 20 countries.
  • Over 30 geospatial platforms officially launched, 5 beta versions ready to be launched or in preparation with very strong country involvement. This work is also the basis for the land/forest data for the FAO Hand in Hand initiative


GIZ, ESA, USAID, JICA, GCF, GEF, UNFCCC, World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (WB FCPF), Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), Australian Government, United States SilvaCarbon Program, GOFC-GOLD Land Cover Office, GEO, GEOGLAM, Wageningen University (WU), Boston University (BU), INPE,WRI, VITO, Google.