The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Finland signed an agreement on 10 January 2022 to improve nations’ abilities to manage forest resources and data, notably in Africa. The FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment and National Forest Monitoring teams will collaborate over a four-year period to carry out the $7 million multi-donor program, with Finland giving an initial $2,3 million.
Through this new connection, FAO and Finland will work to assist nations in creating and sharing better information, therefore contributing to better decision-making at all levels.
“This important collaboration with Finland will assist scale-up capacity for innovative and accurate forest monitoring,” stated FAO deputy director-general Maria Helena Semedo. “This initiative will send our experience and technologies to where they are most needed, with a focus on empowering women in Africa.”
Finland has a long history and experience in forest assessment and monitoring, said Ville Skinnari, Finland’s minister for development cooperation and foreign trade. “We are delighted to collaborate with FAO and provide our Nordic expertise. This is a great chance to help Finland achieve its goal of halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030,” he added.
Increasing the resilience and sustainability of forests
Forests offer energy, food and money, as well as critical functions such as climate change mitigation and soil and water resource preservation. Forest ecosystems are critical to rural livelihoods, particularly in developing nations.
Finland’s additional contribution will support wide and inclusive capacity-building efforts, as well as equitable access to training events, tools and resources.
The capacity-building efforts will be concentrated throughout Africa, with a special emphasis on women’s participation. It will also enable the supply of tools and procedures that will allow nations to gather and analyse up-to-date information on their forest resources, as well as report on them in a clear and annual manner to national and international processes and conventions.
The project’s ultimate goal is to help accomplish the goals of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and forest-related SDGs. More precisely, the initiative will aid in the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation by encouraging and supporting sustainable forest management and usage, resulting in increased economic, social, and environmental advantages.
The initiative will support the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which Finland signed at the COP26 UN Climate Conference last November. The Declaration, which has been endorsed by over 140 nations representing more than 90% of the world’s forests, pledges its signatories to working together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
FAO’s work in forestry
The Global Forest Resource Study (FRA) is the most authoritative and comprehensive assessment of forests and forestry. The most recent of these evaluations (FRA 2020) offers thorough regional and international studies for 236 nations and territories to fulfill the demands of the varied stakeholders: business and public sectors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the media, academia, and so on.
The FRA is based on official nation data. However, in less developed nations, the data is frequently out of date and obtained using inconsistent approaches. The FAO’s National Forest Monitoring (NFM) project assists governments in producing up-to-date quality information on forest resources in over 50 countries, with Africa accounting for one-third of the total. The goal is to create contemporary, transparent, reliable and accessible National Forest Monitoring Systems by providing free and open-source tools for collecting up-to-date and trustworthy forest resource data using remote sensing and field surveys.
FAO’s Open Foris Initiative, launched in 2009 with financial backing from the Finnish government, is one of the most important instruments in NFM. It offers open-source digital public goods that are frequently utilised in forest and land monitoring applications.
Open Foris has over 30 000 users in 180 countries and assists stakeholders in obtaining more precise information on forest and natural resources in a more effective manner.