REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Liberia launches its first National Forest Inventory


Following a ten-day intensive training program, the first Liberian National Forest Inventory (NFI) was launched on 4 June 2018 in Lofa County. Funded by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the NFI is implemented by the Liberian Forestry Development Authority (FDA). For the first time in the country, the data collection for the NFI was fully digitised thanks to the use of the Open Foris toolkit.

According to FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015, 43% of Liberia is covered with forests. The biodiversity of the Liberian forests is rich with endemic and endangered species. A large proportion of the country’s rural population are also dependent on forests for their livelihoods. Therefore, the National Forest Inventory becomes an important tool in monitoring land use changes to gather data to support and consequently developing strategies to reduce deforestation. Communities also play an important role as they provide crucial information on the anthropogenic impact on forests and their role in sustainable livelihoods.

Previous inventories in Liberia in 1968 and 2007 focused on particular areas and only produced regional or local estimates of forest resources. The present inventory is the first of its kind within the country and will be the first time national estimates of forest resources are produced.

In order to prepare for the 2018 NFI activities, Liberian team leaders and assistant team leaders attended a digital data collection and processing training held at the FAO offices in Monrovia 18 - 24 May 2018. The training was organised in the framework of the technical assistance agreement signed between the FAO and the FDA, which seeks to support the design and implementation of a Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) framework for REDD+ in Liberia. Bringing together participants from various organisations in Liberia including the Forestry Development Authority, Forestry Training Institute and the University of Liberia, the training covered two specific tools: Open Foris Collect and Open Foris Collect Mobile. Both tools are a part of FAO’s Open Foris toolkit, currently the most advanced open source suite of tools available for planning, implementing and managing forest inventory information at the national scale. Participants were taken through the process of building a custom digital survey using Open Foris Collect (basic survey design and management) as well as deploying the survey to a tablet or smartphone via the Open Foris Collect Mobile application. Test data were then input into the surveys and teams were shown how to upload this data back into Open Foris Collect for processing. Some data cleaning activities were also discussed.

While in the past, inventory data were typically collected using paper-based field forms, the present inventory seeks to leverage the power and versatility of digital data collection tools deployed to smartphones and tablets to streamline and improve field data collection. This will be the first time these tools are used for inventory activities in Liberia. Following the completion of the training NFI coordinator Prof James Kpadehyea noted:

“The recent training on digital data collection was an excellent opportunity for students and staff to develop their careers and experience in the industry. Using Open Foris will make NFI data collection faster and easier. It is especially important to Liberia because of the high level of plant species diversity and endemism in the country.

The digital data collection training was the last in a series of capacity development events undertaken by FAO all focused on the enumeration of forests. Field teams then travelled to Lofa County to launch the NFI activities in early June 2018. Lofa County Superintendent Hon. William Tamba Kamba officially welcomed the teams to Lofa and launched the NFI on the 4 June 2018. Six biophysical teams, two socio-economic teams, a data management and support team as well as a supervisory team headed into the field on the 5 June. The teams spent approximately 15 days in the field collecting biophysical and socio-economic data. Planning for the next phases of the inventory in Gbarpolu, Bomi, Cape Mount, Montserrado and Margibi are underway. The NFI aims to have its first priority area completed before the end of September. Data collected during the first phase of the inventory will be used to generate emissions factors for the Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL), an important baseline in assessing the performance of each country in implementing REDD+ activities that will help the country to not only express their contribution to international mitigation but also to access future results-based payments. The current work in Liberia is also building upon past support from the UN-REDD Programme, which carried out a targeted assistance programme in 2017 to build capacity on National forest inventory and forest change mapping.


Useful links:

FAO and National Forest Monitoring Systems

Open Foris toolkit

Open Foris and Sepal flyer



For more information, please contact


Jonathan Wesley Roberts

Chief Technical Advisor for Liberia

REDD+/NFM Cluster, Forestry Department, FAO

[email protected]

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