National Forest Monitoring

FAO launches new eLearning modules on National Forest Inventories


It is well recognized that forests have tremendous potential for climate change mitigation. In addition, halting deforestation and forest degradation are nature-based climate solutions that also improve food security, alleviate poverty, enhance biodiversity, improve health outcomes and more. Through innovative technology and capacity-building, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working to tackle the drivers of deforestation and strengthen efforts to track land use and forest cover change.

FAO has helped more than 50 countries develop robust National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS), which generate reliable and accessible data on the status and trends of forests and land cover. A key element of NFMS, National Forest Inventories (NFIs) help provide this information – including size, distribution, condition and use of forest resources – with which countries are able to develop sustainable policies and management strategies. Remaining committed to knowledge exchange and strengthening of NFMS capacities around the world, FAO, with financial support from the CBIT-Forest project, has developed training modules on the topic of NFIs.

The modules, building from the theoretical guidance provided in the Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring, were launched today at the international webinar “Mind the gap: addressing National Forest Inventory capacity needs to support climate action.” This event highlighted the complexities of NFIs, which utilize multiple data sources, including field inventories and remote sensing. Considering this complexity, the modules provide a comprehensive overview of the key elements of an NFI and a general understanding of the implementation process. 

Designed to be completed sequentially or independently, the nine modules cover the following topics:

  • Module 1: Why a National Forest Inventory?

This module describes the objectives of an NFI, offers background information, such as how an NFI provides important forest data, and explains how data collected by an NFI is applied to policy and management decisions.

  • Module 2: Preparing for NFIs (forthcoming)

The second module explores the beginning stages of NFI implementation, such as the practical considerations required for organizing and carrying out an NFI. Such considerations include NFI design and proper management of data.

  • Module 3: Sampling (foundation level)

In this module, users will review the concepts of sampling and error estimation, in particular, focusing on these topics in the context of tropical forests.

  • Module 4: Introduction to Field Work

This module explains the most important considerations for data collection in the field and emphasizes the types of expertise required for an NFI.

  • Module 5:  Data Management for NFIs

In this module, users will learn about methods for information gathering, data management and reporting, including the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in forest data management.

  • Module 6: Reducing errors in the field

The sixth module describes the role of Quality Assessment and Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures in the field measurement phase of NFIs.

  • Module 7: Analysis (forthcoming)

This module reviews the basics of reporting requirements, the need for proper data management and explains the importance of quality data.

  • Module 8: Reporting (forthcoming)

The use of modeling in NFIs is described in this module, including the basic components of a model: aggregation, volume, biomass and carbon stock estimation, and model error.

  • Module 9: Conduct an NFI (forthcoming)

In this module, users get to apply everything they have learned up until this point. Module nine provides opportunities for practice with a series of case studies.


Modules 1, 3-6 and 9 are presently active online and modules 2 and 7-8 will be added shortly.

With the launch of these modules, FAO makes learning about NFIs easier and more accessible than ever before. These modules will help countries, planning to implement or in the early stages of implementing NFIs, prepare for the complexities and challenges associated with this process. The modules will also promote the benefits of conducting NFIs and the role they play in NFMS at large.

To access the modules, please go to:  



Rebecca Tavani, Forestry Officer, FAO Forestry Division

[email protected]

Rocio Condor, Forestry Officer, FAO Forestry Division

[email protected]