The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) is an initiative of the inter-governmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) that aims to:
- foster the sustained availability of observations for national forest monitoring systems;
- support governments that are establishing national systems by providing a platform for coordinating observations, providing assistance and guidance on utilising observations, developing accepted methods and protocols, and promoting ongoing research and development; and
- work with national governments that report into international forest assessments (such as the global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO) and the national greenhouse gas inventories reported to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) using methods of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
By absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon, forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle and in the moderation of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Reducing deforestation and forest degradation will help address global climate change.
Emissions from forests are estimated to amount to 15-20% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – through deforestation, forest degradation, and land use change. In an effort to reduce these emissions, national governments are making significant investments in multilateral frameworks such as the REDD+ Partnership, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD), and various bilateral agreements. Determining the effectiveness of these actions, and planning future measures, depends on the capabilities of national forest monitoring systems.
Robust national forest monitoring based on objective observations is widely accepted as a pre-requisite for countries to participate in international forest carbon agreements. Improved monitoring will also enhance the existing reporting frameworks of the UNFCCC and the periodic Global Forest Resource Assessments of the FAO. To operate efficiently and sustainably, national forest monitoring systems require a continuous, timely and affordable supply of observations. GEO seeks to facilitate this supply and use of forest observations through its Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI).