Suivi national des forêts

FAO webinar explores the links between accessible forest data and climate action


This week a group of international experts and practitioners met virtually during a global knowledge sharing webinar “Forest data and free open-source solutions for Climate Action”. This event focused on the ways in which forest monitoring supports climate action, and it further highlighted country experiences from Papua New Guinea and Ghana and presented FAO’s newest Open Foris tool for collecting and analyzing forest data.

Organized within the framework of FAO/GEF project “Building global capacity to increase transparency in the forest sector (CBIT-Forest),” the online session brought together 361 participants from across 5 continents. Participation mostly stemmed from academia and government, but also included representatives from non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and the private sector. The event also drew engagement from women in the forestry field, with women representing 32 percent of participants. 

The session was delivered by a number of forest experts from FAO and partner countries, including Julian Fox, Team Leader of the National Forest Monitoring cluster in the Forestry Division at FAO; Rocio Condor-Golec, CBIT-Forest Project Lead; Lauri Vesa, a NFI Expert at FAO; Thomas Yaw Gyambrah, Manager for MRV and REDD+ Programmes at the Climate Change Directorate of the Forestry Commission- Ghana; Elizabeth Kaidong, Climate Change Officer with the REDD+ and Climate Change Branch under the Resource Planning and Development Directorate of the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority and Cristina Petracchi, Leader of the FAO elearning Academy. The discussion was moderated by Emily Donegan, NFI Programme Support Specialist at FAO.


Countries around the world move ahead with their transparency goals

The webinar showcased experiences from Papua New Guinea and Ghana. Representatives from each country described how they have developed and strengthened their forest and land use monitoring efforts. The CBIT-Forest project has also been highly active in both countries, having published case studies reviewing their transparency-related activities.

Ms Elizabeth Kaidong explored how Papua New Guinea has employed a range of Open Foris tools to collect, manage and analyze forest data, including Collect, Collect Mobile, Calc, Collect Earth, Collect Earth Online. According to Ms. Kaidong, “Collect Earth has been the foundation in updating the forest and land use information here in Papua New Guinea.” The customizability of these tools allowed the country to easily differentiate among forest and land use types, creating a clearer understanding of forest and land use in Papua New Guinea. Access to satellite imagery has helped the country better interpret and understand land use and forest changes. With the Open Foris tools, Papua New Guinea has been able to submit a Forest and land Use assessment for the period 2000 to 2015, will soon submit a second forest reference level (FRL), and a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).  With the introduction of FAO’s newest tool, these monitoring and reporting efforts will be made even easier and more efficient.  

While developing its NFMS, Ghana has transitioned from ground-based forest inventories to a combination of remote sensing-based approaches and ground-sampling. Mr Thomas Gyambrah outlined the country’s efforts to establish an NFMS web portal that would support a greenhouse gas inventory for REDD+ accounting, environmental and social safeguards and the registry sub-system. Ghana’s NFMS is designed to be the main source of forest and land use information in the country, streamlining the reporting and data analysis processes. Implementation of the NFMS in Ghana has been largely successful, with the country stepping up its reporting of forest-related data, including the submission of two FRLs to the UNFCCC in 2017 and 2021. “Ghana is implementing the REDD+ mechanism and this platform is expected to provide information on REDD+ and all related activities to the public,” said Mr. Gyambrah. “We want to be as transparent as possible."  


ARENA: The new forest data collection tool

During the online event, FAO experts launched the open-source platform, Arena, the newest edition to the Open Foris (OF) collection of forest data tools. Developed within the framework of the UN-REDD Programme, OF Arena enables easier and more efficient forest data collection, management, analysis and reporting. It allows for better management of field data, as it provides users with the ability to fully customize the inventory structure, variables and data checks. The platform is available in multiple languages, and it is essentially an integration of OF Collect and OF Calc, two older OF tools. OF Arena does not require user installation and all data is stored in a secure server in the cloud. The new platform allows users to work collaboratively, as it enables easy data sharing and group work. Also, when the platform updates, it does so at the same time for all users. Countries around the world will benefit from the use of this highly improved forest data tool and it will help them meet global reporting requirements and climate commitments.

“With more features to be added, Arena presents a new and continuously improving way to manage and process forest data,” said Lauri Vesa. “As evidenced by other Open Foris tools, this technology has wide reaching benefits for countries such as Ghana and Papua New Guinea, as they implement transparent climate action.”


Why forest monitoring?

The development of National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) provides countries with a source of reliable forest information and helps guide forest policies, planning and sustainable development. As deforestation rates remain at approximately 10 million hectares per year, the world’s forests drastically need protection from sustainable policies and management practices. Such preservation and restoration efforts will not only mitigate climate change, but also improve the lives of billions of people who depend on forests for food, energy and livelihood – green jobs support the livelihoods of 86 million people worldwide and 880 million people spend part of their time collecting woodfuel and charcoal, a task that falls disproportionately on women.

“Forests play a large role in climate change mitigation,” said Julian Fox. “A win-win solution like a NFMS, allows countries to manage their forest resources sustainably and monitor action towards climate targets, all while carefully considering socioeconomic factors.”

Forest data and information, gathered by NFMS, strengthen climate action and environmental protection, while targeting other social and economic concerns. For this reason, NFMS can promote the implementation of several Sustainable Development Goals, including climate action and life on land, and less directly zero hunger, gender equality and affordable and clean energy. In addition to supporting the SDGs, NFMS assists countries in their efforts to increase the effectiveness and transparency of climate actions under the Paris Agreement. In this context, developing transparent climate actions requires free and accessible open-source tools and technologies that guide countries’ implementation of forest-related policies and allow them to track progress toward sustainable forest management.

“A robust NFMS requires good data, and good data means greater transparency” said Rocio Condor-Golec. “Tools, such as Arena, enable countries to build more comprehensive, reliable monitoring systems, that will help them track forest cover, land use and climate mitigation activities.”



Related links

National Forest Monitoring Website:

CBIT-Forest project website and “1 year in numbers” report

CBIT-Forest webinars in 2020 and 2021 

FAO publication Voluntary Guidelines on national forest monitoring 

FAO’s NFMS assessment tool (available in English, Spanish and French)

FAO publication on “Institutionalization of forest data” (available in English, Spanish and French)

E-learning course on "Forests and Transparency under the Paris Agreement”: available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese