Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO and the government of Norway and have signed a NOK 35million (around $4.5million) partnership agreement to improve the capacity of developing countries to monitor and report on their forest resources and changes in forest area.
The project, according to a statement by FAO will facilitate countries’ access to earth observation data sources, including satellite imagery, and develop an easy-to-use platform for processing and interpreting this data.
At the initial stage, it said FAO will start implementing the new system in 13 countries over the next three years in support of activities under the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, UN-REDD.
It stressed the system will be mainly used by forestry technicians to monitor and assess how much carbon forest areas stock, enabling countries to report on and receive compensation for verified emission reductions.
State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, Lars Andreas Lunde, said “Satellite imagery and other earth observation data are important for countries working to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”.
“Improved forest monitoring systems enable better informed decision making and policy development, and enable tracking of performance in reducing forest based emissions. This is why Norway is supporting this project through its International Climate and Forest Initiative”, he added.
Also speaking, Deputy Director of FAO’s Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division, Tiina Vähänen, said “The outcome we are looking for here is to help countries produce and access satellite-generated forest maps and related information products in an easier, faster and more sustainable way”.
“This will allow them to gather better information for their own needs and for REDD+ implementation”, she added.
Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Forestry Department, Eduardo Rojas-Briales, said, “The new platform offers countries a set of efficient tools for monitoring changes in their forest area and carbon stocks, and for developing sustainable forest management regimes”.
Vähänen, also explained that “One of the important components here is the creation of a user-friendly and efficient, cloud-based computing interface”.
“The use of this interface will allow quick access to remote sensing data as well as to high-performance computing facilities, even in countries with limited access to internet”, she said.
Vähänen further stressed that many users in developing countries had limited resources to buy licenses of proprietary software.
“They often simply do not have access to the tools they need. Open source software which was developed under the FAO’s Open Foris Initiative and used in this project is available for everyone without license costs and allows the end user to modify the program to suit their purposes”. she added.

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