13 January 2022, Rome: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Finland today signed an agreement to enhance the capacity of countries in forest resources and data management especially in Africa. The $7 million multi-donor project will be implemented jointly by the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment and National Forest Monitoring teams over a period of four years, with an initial $2,3 million contribution provided by Finland.
Through this new partnership FAO and Finland will team up to help countries to produce and disseminate better information, and hence contribute to better decision-making at different levels.
FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said: “This important collaboration with Finland will help scale-up capacities for innovative and accurate forest monitoring. With a spotlight on empowering women in Africa, this project will bring our expertise and tools where they are most needed.”
“Finland has over 100 years of tradition and expertise in forest assessment and monitoring. We are very glad to team up with FAO and offer our Nordic know-how. This is a great opportunity to contribute to halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030,” said Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland.
Making forestry more sustainable and resilient
Forests are sources of energy, food, income, and provide important services such as climate change mitigation, protection of soil and water resources. Forest ecosystems are of vital importance to rural livelihoods, especially in developing countries.
The new contribution from Finland will support extensive and inclusive capacity-building activities and equal access to training events, tools and materials. In particular, the capacity building activities will focus on Africa, emphasizing the participation of women. It will also enable the provision of tools and techniques that allow countries to collect and analyse up-to-date information on their forest resources as well as report on them to the national and international processes and conventions in a transparent manner and on annual basis.
The ultimate objective of the project is to support the achievement of the objectives of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and forest-related SDGs. More specifically, the project will help reduce deforestation and forest degradation by promoting and facilitating sustainable forest management and use, leading to greater economic, social and environmental benefits.
The project will support Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use announced at COP26 UN Climate Conference last November for which Finland is a signatory. Endorsed by over 140 countries accounting for more than 90 percent of the world’s forests, the Declaration commits its parties to cooperate together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The Declaration was unveiled at the World Leaders Summit ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’, and considered a significant step forward in the fighting against tropical forest loss and climate change.
FAO’s work in forestry
The Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) is the most authoritative and comprehensive assessment of forests and forestry. The latest of these assessments (FRA 2020) contains detailed regional and global analyses for 236 countries and territories to meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders: private and public sectors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the media, academia, etc.
FRA is based on official country statistics. However, in less developed countries, the data are sometimes outdated and derived using inconsistent methodologies. FAO’s National Forest Monitoring (NFM) initiative supports countries to produce updated quality information on forest resources in more than 50 countries, among which a third are in Africa. The aim is to develop modern, transparent, reliable and accessible National Forest Monitoring Systems, through the provision of free and open-source tools for the collection of up-to-date and reliable forest resource data using remote sensing and field inventories.
One of the most important instruments in NFM is FAO’s Open Foris Initiative, which was initiated in 2009 with financial support from the government of Finland. It provides open-source digital public goods, which are widely used for forest and land monitoring applications. Over the years, Open Foris has had more than 30,000 users in 180 countries and helps stakeholders to obtain more detailed information on forest and natural resources in a more efficient manner.