EAS’ work with the Global Forest Observations Initiative

In May 2023, Consultants Carly and Michael attended the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) Plenary in Rome. “The annual GFOI Plenary brings together the global community of practitioners who support tropical countries in forest monitoring and associated emissions Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) procedures. The Plenary aims to share information and ideas, review progress and identify new opportunities for helping countries to improve their forest monitoring capabilities to enable better forest management and ultimately the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”.

As a team, Carly and Michael presented on the Launch of the GFOI Family of Resources (GFoR) and Carly also presented as part of a panel on Presentations and discussions on monitoring emissions and removals from the Blue Carbon sector and EAS’ involvement in the IPCC Software improvements.

Background of GFOI

GFOI, or the Global Forest Observations Initiative, is an informal partnership of countries and institutions that collaboratively assist developing countries on issues relating to measurement, reporting and verification of REDD+ results-based payments. It assists in monitoring progress towards meeting nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), reporting for the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and other performance-based funds, informing the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA), building capacity for national GHG inventories and other country needs. By bringing together the expertise of multiple entities, GFOI aims to promote the accurate reporting of forest resources on a global scale, enabling informed decision-making around sustainable forest management.

GFOI is a flagship programme of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and is the product of the collaborative actions of its partners. Specifically GFOI activities include:

  • Facilitating country-led assessments of their forest monitoring needs and gaps

  • Harmonized work planning to address country-identified priorities 

  • Collaborative implementation of forest monitoring support, including:

  • Complementary and consistent capacity building 

  • Development and dissemination of user friendly guidance for REDD+ 

  • Supporting the availability and accessibility of remote-sensing data and other key datasets and tools 

  • Coordinating research and development (R&D) activities to fill knowledge gaps, address obstacles to progress and align the work of the research community with developing-country needs  

  • Fostering a diverse network of experts and practitioners to support developing countries in a targeted and cohesive manner 

  • Facilitating information sharing between partners to avoid duplications and overlap.

    GFOI aims to promote the accurate reporting of forest resources on a global scale, enabling informed decision-making around sustainable forest management.
    GFOI aims to promote the accurate reporting of forest resources on a global scale, enabling informed decision-making around sustainable forest management. Photo by Andrew Coelho Unsplash

How EAS works with GFOI

EAS employees have been working with GFOI since 2014, through support provided by the Australian Government and more recently from the US Silvacarbon Program and directly from the GFOI office (the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). Dr Carly Green performed the role of the Methods and Guidance Component Manager until 2020 during which time she oversaw the publication of 3 versions of the Methods and Guidance Document (MGD). This involved creating guidelines on how to integrate remotely sensed data with ground data to provide IPCC consistent and reliable greenhouse gas estimates for REDD+ reporting.

Carly collaborated with around 50 authors to create the MGD which has become the basis for how GFOI partners interact with countries to ensure consistency in training and communication with countries by all GFOI Components.

To support the MGD guidance, EAS and GFOI built a website called REDDcompass which integrates the technical documents with other resources and tools that partners, UN agencies, and groups had published. This central repository enabled easy access to information and resources that supported countries in producing accurate data for national monitoring systems.

An additional resource that GFOI has developed is OpenMRV. This platform contains examples of countries that have created a standard operating procedure within the country, using the materials and resources to implement what they are doing. Other countries can learn from these procedures and share their own information, creating a collaborative resource for all countries. The program is now extending to capture more information in the reporting and verification parts of the system.

Bringing these four together, the GFOI Family of Resources (GFoR) was launched in the 2023 plenary. The GFoR offers a complete package of resources to support countries in developing National Forest Monitoring Systems and associated emissions Measurement, Reporting, and Verification procedures. Michael Green is involved in creating the software/repository and developing the linkages within it, and maintains, updates, and extends the software with content made available from all GFOI partners. Essentially, the platform is a knowledge base that helps countries, consultants and advisors to access resources related to measurement, reporting and verification.

EAS is also involved in country-led programming, which involves supporting countries to identify ways to strengthen institutional arrangements technical processes and data as well as other key aspects of effective operational National Forest Monitoring Systems.

We look forward to being involved with GFOI programs and systems into the future and being involved in supporting countries to adopt best practice in their own systems leading to more transparent, accurate, complete, comparable, consistent reporting and ultimately more informed and effective decision-making to restore and enhance forest cover globally.

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