National Forest Monitoring

FAO and UK sign a new innovative project to improve forest measurement for accessing climate finance

A new approach to forest measurement - IMPRESS (Improving Measurement for Payments to Reduce Emissions and Strengthen Sinks) – will be developed for global application – and will be implemented in Kenya

12-11-2021, Nairobi – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new project aimed to generate and use high-integrity data on forest emissions and removals compliant with results-based payment standards. The new 1million USD funded project supported by UK PACT will improve the ability of countries to access climate financing options to mitigate the effects of climate crisis, while preserving ecosystem services for communities.

The project titled IMPRESS (Improving Measurement for Payments to Reduce Emissions and Strengthen Sinks) includes an application of the approach in Kenya to enhance the country’s capacity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the forest sector and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through forest restoration. The IMPRESS approach will also generate pioneering experience and knowledge sharing packages for other countries globally, supporting them in moving towards high-integrity forest monitoring systems, as well as enable their access to climate finance.

“Climate action requires robust forest data that can support the formulation and monitoring of forest-related policies, help track progress towards sustainable forest management and reduce emissions related to forest loss,” notes Carla Mucavi, FAO Representative to KenyaWhile adding that “We are excited that Kenya was selected for implementing these forest data improvements for RBP compliance, setting a benchmark for replication in other countries.”


Towards high-integrity forest data 

It is widely recognized that forests play a key role in regulating global carbon cycles, as they comprise the largest terrestrial carbon stores. Deforestation and forest degradation – mostly in the tropics – are responsible for about 11 per cent of Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Managing forest carbon stocks is therefore a critical component to keeping the rise in global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius. 

Concerns about the climate change implications of deforestation have led to the development of numerous initiatives to harness the potential of forests and land use contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a key enabler of such schemes, countries around the world are undertaking efforts to strengthen their forest monitoring systems to meet enhanced technical requirements of new carbon standards, thereby opening access to carbon finance. 

To fill this knowledge gap, FAO’s new project will focus on strengthening countries’ capacities to develop and utilise high-quality activity data for monitoring deforestation, forest degradation and forest restoration.

“To comply with carbon standards - that are often more demanding than UNFCCC modalities - countries will need robust, transparent and high-quality data on forest cover and use,” notes Astrid Agostini, REDD+/National Forest Monitoring (NFM) Cluster Coordinator at FAO Forestry Division. “Such data can inform effective policies and investments as well as unlock new climate finance to protect and enhance these precious ecosystems.”


Scaling up Kenya’s experience

With more than 3.5 million ha of forest, Kenya already has a National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS) in place, an achievement within the framework of its efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Since expressing interest in emerging climate finance opportunities, for instance, under the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition, the country has been eager to further strengthen its National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS).

Working in collaboration with Kenya’s Forest Service, the project will enhance the quality of the country’s forest data and information, align its NFMS with the requirements of leading carbon standards, integrate data from soil-organic carbon in degraded high-carbon ecosystems, such as mangroves as well as develop an approach for monitoring carbon removals from forest restoration. Such high-integrity forest monitoring will enable Kenya to attract public and private carbon finance for action on land use emissions.

Through a series of outreach and knowledge sharing activities, the application in Kenya allows other countries to have a better chance of accessing results-based payments for REDD+, including through the provision of high-integrity carbon credits to attract climate finance. As a result, governments will be able to accurately measure progress in reducing deforestation and forest degradation as well as track removal increases from restoration activities. This will also help to underpin a robust long-term mitigation strategy and reporting under the Paris Agreement in line with its Nationally Determined Contribution.

“With more than 50 years’ experience in supporting countries in their forest monitoring efforts and with a variety of innovative forest and land monitoring platforms, FAO is pleased to drive innovation towards high-integrity forest data through the IMPRESS project, and looks forward to working closely with Kenya and UK-PACT in demonstrating the approach,” said Julian Fox, the Team Leader of FAO’s National Forest Monitoring Team. “This initiative is especially exciting as it brings Kenya’s experiences to other countries globally, allowing them to use the full potential of its forest protection and restoration efforts for the benefit of its forests and people,” he added.



National Forest Monitoring Team, FAO Forestry Division


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