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FAO and Norway are collaborating to enhance the scope and power of an open-access forest monitoring program, building on FAO's partnership with Google.

The platform is expected to support countries in monitoring and reporting on forests and land use, as well as in monitoring progress towards the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

27 June 2018: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) have announced plans to scale up a digital FAO platform that assists countries in measuring, monitoring and reporting on forests and land use. The initiative is expected to contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of forests and increase accuracy and transparency in forest monitoring.

FAO and NICFI will enhance the scope and power of FAO’s forest monitoring platform, known as the ‘System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL)’ through a three-year, US$6 million project. SEPAL enables users to query and process satellite data efficiently while tailoring results to specific country or local needs. For example, Indonesia has used SEPAL to rapidly detect changes in the scale and location of burned forest areas.

Countries can use the platform’s satellite data and computing power to improve the accuracy and transparency of national land use and climate mitigation plans and policies. They can also use the platform to improve forest monitoring for REDD+ Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV). According to the FAO, the use of such platforms has helped 35 countries submit 38 forest reference emission levels (FREL) and four countries to report REDD+ results to the UNFCCC.

The platforms have helped 35 countries submit 38 forest reference emission levels (FREL) and four countries to report REDD+ results to the UNFCCC.

NICFI Director Per Pharo underscored the importance of accurate forest information in managing the world’s forests and combating deforestation, which he said were critical to achieve the SDGs and fulfill the Paris Agreement on climate change.

SEPAL is one of a suite of open-source technical tools that FAO’s Forest Department provides for countries to use in partnership with Google and others. FAO’s partnership with Google includes several online platforms for reporting on the status and trends of the world’s forest resources. [FAO Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on FAO-Google Forest Monitoring Platform] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Launch of FAO-Google Partnership]

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