29 November 2021
FAO Launches Trainings on National Forest Inventories
Photo by Ives Ives on Unsplash
story highlights

The Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use was joined by over 140 countries accounting for more than 90% of the world's forests at COP 26.

Achieving it will require transparent and accurate information on forests and land use.

The FAO is providing countries with support to carry out National Forest Inventories, through a nine-part training based on the Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring.

By Rebecca Tavani and Rocio Condor, FAO Forestry Division

Forests have tremendous potential for climate change mitigation; this much is well known. But halting deforestation and forest degradation are also nature-based climate solutions that improve food security, alleviate poverty, enhance biodiversity, improve health outcomes, and more. Through innovative technology and capacity-building, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working to tackle the drivers of deforestation and strengthen efforts to track land use and forest cover change.

FAO has helped more than 50 countries develop robust National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS), which generate reliable and accessible data on the status and trends of forests and land cover. A key element of NFMS, National Forest Inventories (NFIs) help provide this information – including size, distribution, condition, and use of forest resources – with which countries are able to develop sustainable policies and management strategies. As part of our commitment to knowledge exchange and strengthening of NFMS capacities around the world, FAO, with financial support from the CBIT-Forest project, has developed training modules on the topic of NFIs.

The modules, building off of the theoretical guidance provided in the Voluntary Guidelines on National Forest Monitoring, were launched on 17 November 2021 at the international webinar ‘Mind the gap: addressing National Forest Inventory capacity needs to support climate action.’ This event highlighted the complexities of NFIs, which utilize multiple data sources, including field inventories and remote sensing. Considering this complexity, the modules provide a comprehensive overview of the key elements of an NFI and a general understanding of the implementation process. 

Designed to be completed sequentially or independently, the nine modules cover the following topics:

  • Why a National Forest Inventory: Module 1 describes the objectives of an NFI, offers background information, such as how an NFI provides important forest data, and explains how data collected by an NFI is applied to policy and management decisions;
  • Organization and Implementation: Module 2 explores the beginning stages of NFI implementation, such as the practical considerations required for organizing and carrying out an NFI, including NFI design and proper management of data;
  • Sampling: In Module 3, users will review the concepts of sampling and error estimation, focusing on these topics in the context of tropical forests;
  • Introduction to Field Work: Module 4 explains the most important considerations for data collection in the field and emphasizes the types of expertise required for an NFI;
  • NFI Data Management: Users will learn in Module 5 about methods for data management and reporting, including the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in forest data management;
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control Procedures in Field Measurements: Module 6 describes the role of Quality Assessment and Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures in the field measurement phase of NFIs;
  • Information Management and Data Registration: Module 7 reviews the basics of reporting requirements, the need for proper data management and explains the importance of quality data;
  • Modeling for Estimation and Monitoring: The use of modeling in NFIs is described in Module 8, including the basic components of a model (aggregation, volume, biomass and carbon stock estimation, and model error); and
  • Scenarios: In Module 9, users can apply everything they have learned up until this point, through opportunities for practice with a series of case studies.

With the launch of these modules, FAO makes learning about NFIs easier and more accessible than ever before. These modules will help countries planning to implement, or in the early stages of implementing, NFIs to prepare for its complexities and challenges. The modules will also promote the benefits of conducting NFIs and the role they play in NFMS at large. The modules can be accessed here

At COP 26 in Glasgow this month, over 140 countries, accounting for more than 90% of the world’s forests, committed to work together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, under the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. Transparent and accurate information on the status and trends of countries’ forests and land use will be fundamental to achieving this ambitious Declaration. NFI knowledge and activities will be among the core pillars of gathering this information.

The authors of this guest article are Rebecca Tavani, Forestry Officer in the FAO Forestry Division (rebecca.tavani@fao.org) and Rocio Condor, Forestry Officer in the FAO Forestry Division (rocio.condor@fao.org).

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