Forest monitoring systems and measurement, reporting and verification

Since 2008, UN-REDD has supported the development of a variety of technical solutions to assist countries in REDD+ MRV and for transparency in REDD+ efforts.

These tools include the free and open-source Open Foris suite maintained under UN-REDD. Open Foris enables countries to design and host NFI databases (Collect), enable efficient field data collection (Collect Mobile), and analyse (Calc). It also includes tools for collecting activity data with the help of Collect Earth and Collect Earth Online. With the help of these tools, countries can provide information on NFI and FRL/ FREL reporting to the UNFCCC secretariat.

The Open Foris suite contains a cloudbased solution for accessing space data and applying remote-sensing processing chains under SEPAL. A new version, SEPAL 2.1 (launched in 2019) – with improved functionality for mosaic creation of optical and radar data – continued to achieve great success. By December 2019, it had over 3,000 active users in more than 170 countries. In addition, UN-REDD developed a new practical R/ Shiny application for forest inventory design. These tools have greatly helped countries in (re)designing forest resources and change detection assessments. The latest addition to the Open Foris toolkit is “Collect Earth Online”, which was built in collaboration with NASA-Servir and FAO. It was upgraded in terms of data for visual interpretation, with high resolution and high cadence satellite imagery available for eight countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

In 2019, UN-REDD organized Open Foris, allometric modelling and other MRV training events in the Bahamas (remotely), Cambodia, Liberia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia, as well as at FAO headquarters in Rome. The Open Foris suite was also presented at the FAO Digital Services Portfolio for the Digital Agriculture Transformation Seminar in June 2019. UN-REDD also provided active online technical support to several countries via e-mail, Skype and the Open Foris community site. A total of 150 users’ questions were received and answered via the Open Foris website in 2019.

The Programme continued transparent online NFMS web portal development by starting the construction of the Liberia and Sudan portals. A one-week training course was provided for the staff of the Bhutanese Forestry Department and remote support for portal upgrade and further development was given extensively to Bhutan, Suriname and Uganda.

UN-REDD continued combining the existing Open Foris tools into a cloudbased application that will better serve NFMS and their related capacities for MRV. The new system is planned to be operational by mid-2020.

A review was undertaken of lessons learned from countries, mostly in Latin America, that have made progress in the legal and institutional arrangements for their NFMS. The publication, planned for the first quarter of 2020, provides relevant examples to assist other countries in strengthening their legal and institutional arrangements to establish NFMS.

Highlights of achievements in 2019:

  • In July 2019, Science magazine published a paper entitled, “The global tree restoration potential” where Open Foris tools were applied.
  • Open Foris tools were applied in the world’s first global drylands assessment on trees and forests,launched by FAO in December 2019 at the twenty-fifth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • The adoption and use of Open Foris and SEPAL for forest monitoring has exceeded all expectations and its impact on country reporting to the UNFCCC secretariat is a significant improvement in comparison to previous years, particularly in terms of easier access to remote sensing data and processing tools when countries collect their activity data.
  • Open Foris Collect Online and SEPAL platform, as a part of Open Foris tools, now enable licensed users to access high resolution Planet Labs daily data in eight countries

Activity data assessments using Open Foris tools were completed in Thailand, Uganda and Zambia.

This report is made possible through support from Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the European Union.