National Forest Monitoring

Improving reporting on forest degradation emissions


3 May 2023, Rome – Forest degradation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but it is difficult to measure and countries need technical support to report these emissions, according to a new FAO technical paper released today.

Estimating emissions and removals from forest degradation aims to guide countries seeking to report this type of emission internationally by identifying the challenges and summarising the different approaches countries are using and the lessons learnt.

“In some countries, forest degradation can account for as much as three quarters of total emissions from deforestation and degradation combined,” said Senior Forestry Officer Julian Fox. “But governments are struggling to report this information because it is more complicated to define and measure than deforestation. This technical paper aims to accelerate the process.”

Being able to calculate emissions from forest degradation is important both because it enables countries to address the problem, and because it is mandatory to report this information to qualify for climate finance.

Yet to date, while 55 countries have submitted reference levels to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) including emissions caused by deforestation, only 33 countries have included emissions from forest degradation.

The technical paper presents an overview of what is known about emissions from forest degradation globally and the how ongoing investment in data and analysis is helping to make it easier to measure.

Case studies on three methods

The report highlights three different methods countries have used to tackle the challenges of defining and monitoring degradation and calculating the emissions it causes.

It also provides detailed examples on how each approach was used in the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Viet Nam, with advice on how to choose which approach to use depending on types of forest and degradation and the availability of data such as high-resolution satellite imagery.

The paper explains that there could be some contexts where it is still very hard to obtain accurate forest degradation information, and that there are some areas where global consensus still needs to be reached on what works well.

The technical paper was launched at a South-South exchange with country representatives from 16 countries, jointly organized by FAO and the SilvaCarbon Programme – an interagency technical cooperation program of the US government. For FAO, the workshop and publication represent early deliverables under the new UK-funded AIM4Forests Programme.

To date, FAO has provided tailored and fit-for-purpose country support that has directly resulted in over 50 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America submitting a Forest Reference Level to UNFCCC – a critical step in monitoring, reporting and verification under the UNFCCC. In addition, over 90 percent of Forest Reference Level submissions have used FAO’s Open Foris, and platforms such as SEPAL, FAO open-source Digital Public Goods that help countries measure, monitor and report on forests and land use.

Related links

Originally published here: