National Forest Monitoring Systems

Tailored NFMS enable countries to inform their forest policymaking with up-to-date, reliable, transparent and accessible information.

Over the last 10 years, capacity development supported by the UN-REDD Programme has given rise to unprecedented transparency in terms of countries’ forest data, with more and more countries able to meet international reporting requirements. A 2018 UN-REDD publication entitled ‘Ten years of capacity development on national forest monitoring for REDD+’ investigates capacity development in 16 UN-REDD partner countries, using a forest monitoring scorecard to track capacity over time. The results show that national forest monitoring capacities doubled between 2008 and 2015, and doubled again by 2018, in the space of three years. In addition, continued capacity development on NFMS, experience with REDD+ FRELs/FRLs, REDD+ results reporting and the associated technical assessment and analysis have provided useful lessons in drawing up the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework.

The UN-REDD Programme has supported 40 countries in developing NFMS since its inception. This has included technical support for Satellite Land Monitoring Systems (SLMS) used for generating land-cover/land-use (change) information. In addition, 25 countries have received support for developing national web portals for their NFMS, with 15 countries having launched operational platforms disseminating NFMS information. Eighteen countries have received support and made progress on their National Forest Inventories (NFIs) since the UN-REDD Programme began.

Over the last 10 years, the UN-REDD Programme has helped 29 countries meet international reporting requirements or generate data to improve the quality of reporting and enhance transparency through visualization of national data. It has supported open source modular solutions for satellite and ground data processing through the Open Foris suite, with over 20,000 country installations.

The UN-REDD Programme has also assisted countries in Latin America (Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Paraguay) in making progress towards adopting appropriate legal instruments to clarify institutional mandates associated with NFMS. In Costa Rica, the Ministries of Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Livestock and Justice moved closer towards signing a decree to ensure the formal long-term participation of institutions that have committed to use the Monitoring System for Land Use, Coverage and Ecosystems. In Ecuador, an entire section on NFMS has been drafted in the context of regulating the Environmental Code. The experience and lessons learned from country work were also shared with other countries through a South- South web-based knowledge exchange organized in conjunction with the Virtual Center of Excellence on Forest Monitoring, Mexico.

The UN-REDD Programme has continued to collaborate with several other initiatives on REDD+ measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), including the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), UNFCCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and SilvaCarbon, the System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL) and the Open Foris initiative, all of which provide the technical tools for NFMS implementation. Together with FRELs/FRLs, these mechanisms provide the building blocks for establishing NFMS in countries, which in turn contributes to sound REDD+ policy- and decision-making.

Highlights of country achievements in 2018 include the following:

  • Myanmar received significant support for its ongoing NFI, including technical assistance on methodological design and data processing.
  • The Republic of the Congo developed its first methodology to determine and map forest degradation in order to better ascertain the location of degraded areas in the country.
  • In Colombia, guidelines were developed for monitoring forest restoration.

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