Updated: Jun 14
Countries around the world need accurate and up-to-date forest data for sustainable forest management and in order to take action against climate change. Open Foris - FAO’s collection of innovative tools and platforms - was developed to help countries fill the data gap by facilitating the monitoring of forests and land cover changes.
The Open Foris is an open-source set of tools and platforms, tailorable to the user’s needs, ranging from field data collection and analysis tools to satellite image classification and processing tools. The diverse possibilities of the collection allow for a mix and matching of tools to best fit the needs of the individual user.
To better fit its purpose, the site of the Open Foris platform — openforis.org — has been recently revamped. This new update provides openforis.org with a fresh new design, including functional and page templates that clearly convey the messages of Open Foris.
This update also incorporated a responsive design, allowing for easier use on mobile devices. The ability to use Open Foris tools on mobile devices will allow the FAO initiative to reach a broader audience, enabling users who may not have access to a computer. Further, users can access Open Foris anywhere at any time. Particularly important for users familiar with Open Foris, the content management system was also renewed, making the platform more up-to-date and user-friendly than ever.
Open Foris tools support the entire large-scale forest inventory and monitoring cycle from needs assessment, design, and planning to land cover classification, field data collection and management, mapping, estimation analyses including area estimation, and reporting and dissemination. Composed of six tools and platforms, Open Foris includes Collect and Collect Mobile, which provide the technical framework for data collection and management. Calc makes it possible for users to analyse complex datasets and produce reports. The Collect Earth and Collect Earth Online tools utilise satellite imagery for the collection and analysis of sampled spatial data and enable collaborative interpretation of satellite data respectively. The SEPAL platform allows users to conduct big data processing, using supercomputing power to process huge and ever-expanding datasets of satellite images to detect land cover changes such as deforestation. Finally, Open Foris Arena which will launch later this year will offer users improved integration between the existing tools.
Members of NFI's botany team take measurements of various species of trees at a field station outside the NFI camp near Kupiano, Papua New Guinea (©UN-REDD)
Open Foris: 10-years of Impact
With over 30,000 users across 180 countries, Open Foris has paved the way for significant progress in forest monitoring around the globe. The initiative has had a wide impact since its introduction 10 years ago. Open Foris has been used in the development of 25 National Forest Inventories and for data provision for 70 percent of REDD+ Forest Reference Levels submitted to the UNFCCC. While Open Foris targets forest monitoring, they have also been adapted for monitoring of other land uses, such as agriculture and pastoral systems, dairy industry, fisheries, and peatlands. These tools were used in a 2019 study published in Science to estimate global tree restoration potential, and are used for monitoring in the Global Drylands Assessment, Africa’s Great Green Wall, and have been integrated in the Framework for Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring (FERM), which is the platform developed for monitoring the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
One of the latest additions is Se.plan - a SEPAL-based tool for forest restoration planning. Se.plan is a decision support tool that combines different layers (maps) to assess where new forest restoration measures can take place. In Se.plan, restoration potential is defined by the user, as the tool lets the decision maker interact with the map and take into account socio-economic priorities.
Further updates are on the way with the launch of new SEPAL tools and Arena, mentioned previously, which combines Collect and Calc into one seamless application. These changes to the Open Foris platform will make it more up-to-date, user-friendly and help deliver these tools to a wider audience.
With funding from the UN-REDD Programme and World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, FAO will continue to strengthen accessibility and accuracy of forest monitoring tools, in part through the creation of training materials.
“OpenForis provides key tools and platforms to enable countries to monitor the management of natural resources and report to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and others,” added Andres B. Espejo, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist at the World Bank. “This revamped version of OpenMRV will further improve accessibility to this invaluable resource.”
Forestry Officer, Open Foris
FAO Forestry Division
Forestry Officer, SEPAL lead
FAO Forestry Division
Senior Forestry Officer, National Forest Monitoring Team Leader
FAO Forestry Division