Monitoreo forestal nacional

Estimating Emissions and Removals from Forest Degradation: A South-South Exchange


Forest degradation, which reduces the capacity of forests to act as a carbon sink, has been a hurdle for many tropical forested countries to monitor effectively. Consequently, there is a need to discuss the current state of operational forest degradation monitoring, share knowledge on tools and methodologies, and explore emerging methods that support countries’ efforts to measure report and verify (MRV) forest degradation.The South-South Exchange on Estimating Emissions and Removals from Forest Degradation took place from May 3-5, 2023 at FAO Headquarters, bringing together representatives from 16 countries focused on addressing the main challenges and sharing experiences in accurately monitoring and reporting  emissions from land use and its changes, particularly forest degradation.

The event was organized in collaboration with SilvaCarbon, the Spatial Informatics Group - Natural Assets Laboratory (SIG-NAL), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), FAO had financial support from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and Norway’s International Climate and Finance Initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to bring together experts and representatives from different countries to discuss the challenges and advances in estimating emissions and removals from forest degradation. We are very grateful for this collaboration with Silva Carbon” said Julian Fox, Team Leader National Forest Monitoring at FAO, opening the workshop.  

Representatives from: Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya,  Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia,  Nepal,  Paraguay, Republic of the Congo,  Viet Nam and Zambia, shared experiences during the three days of the workshop on various aspects of monitoring and reporting on forest degradation, such as  estimation of area data and emission factors, as well as requirements in carbon standards.

Main takeaways of the discussion

The first day started with insightful presentations, including a CAFI and FAO study on the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation using SEPAL, which seeks to develop a methodology piloted in six Central African countries using open-source cloud-computing solutions.

In addition, a new FAO publication, "Estimating emissions and removals from forest degradation: An overview of country experiencewas launched, providing valuable methodological guidance and insights into the experiences of countries working on forest degradation monitoring and reporting.

During the first day participants engaged in discussions on operational definitions, monitoring techniques, remote sensing technologies, and emerging data and methodologies for estimating emissions and removals from forest degradation.

On day two of the workshop, the focus was on discussing forest degradation reporting and the challenges associated with it. Main takeaways from the discussion included the importance of monitoring forest degradation, the challenges of measuring degradation, and the need for operational definitions. The use of remote sensing and expert knowledge, as well as computer resources and monitoring for each driver of forest degradation, were also highlighted.

Ethiopia, for example, shared their experience on how estimates of the extent of area disturbed differ when using field and satellite data. "There was a difference between what we saw on imagery and what we saw on the ground” Heiru Sebrala Ahmed, Director Forest Resources Assessment and Monitoring Directorate, Ethiopia, said. The importance of matching activity data and emissions factors was emphasized as was the need for open-source tools, such as SEPAL and OpenForis tools including Collect Earth Online, and training to help reduce uncertainty.

The third and final day of the workshop focused on extracting lessons learned. The panel discussion featured experts from Viet Nam, Ethiopia, and the Philippines discussing the challenges of estimating activity data and emissions factors, the uncertainties involved, and the difficulties of classifying different types of degradation. Experts agreed on the need for standardization and transparency when reporting on emissions reduction efforts.

During the discussion, countries identified that one of the main challenges they encounter during the reporting process is the difficulty of explaining results and standardization across various agencies and programs. They also agreed on the importance of accurate data production, consistency in reporting requirements, capacity building, knowledge retention, and better cross-agency and cross-donor collaboration.

"After all this work all the countries have similar challenges, so to solve them, future interactions between us is the key”, concluded Peter Nduati, Senior Assistant Director at Kenya Forests Service, Kenya.

Till Neeff, FAO's Carbon Finance and Forest Monitoring expert, summarizing the workshop, stated, "The event has provided a platform for countries to share their experiences, addressing the challenges of monitoring forest degradation will require that we continue learning together.”


-        Improving reporting on forest degradation emissions