About GFOI

Through the work of its partners, GFOI supports REDD+ countries to develop their national forest monitoring systems and associated emissions measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) procedures.

The development of robust forest monitoring systems for REDD+ is an inherently complex task requiring consideration of specialized inputs and robust outputs. No international partner alone has the resources to meet the global demand for support from REDD+ countries, nor the breadth of expertise required to overcome all of the complexities.

In recognizing this, GFOI partners are coordinating their efforts to provide a more holistic and specialized package of support than they would otherwise be able to deliver on their own.

GFOI coordination allows specialists to work with REDD+ countries to deliver their expertise, whilst partnering with other experts to deliver theirs. This not only ensures that REDD+ countries are supported by specialists in a particular component of forest monitoring but it also helps to avoid overlap and duplication. This can allow for a more efficient and effective package of support and as such can ultimately help to reduce the transaction costs of REDD+.


The GFOI is not its own institution, it is instead a product of the actions of its partners. The Initiative is currently led by the Governments of Australia, Norway, the UK and the USA as well as the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). It is supported by an extensive community of international experts and stakeholders, including from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the greenhouse gas inventory programme of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD), universities, other specialist international organizations and experts, and of course REDD+ countries.

GFOI is guided by a Leads Group, with representatives from all the major contributors. The GFOI Office is responsible for the overall coordination and administration of the Initiative. The Office is based at the FAO’s headquarters in Rome.

GFOI is open to new partners, either through the alignment of existing activities or the contribution of new resources.

GFOI was founded under the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) partnership. GEO is a voluntary partnership of governments and organizations that envision ‘a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations and information’.

GFOI Plenary and Open Forum, ESRIN Frascati Italy, February 2016.

Participants at the GFOI Component Meetings, Sydney, March 2015


GFOI partners work across four key components: capacity building, methods and guidance, space data and R&D coordination. These components interact with one another and the individual activities of GFOI partners to provide holistic and specialized support to countries with an ambition to reduce emissions from land use and land use change. The components conduct the following core functions:

  1. Capacity Building: building country capacity is the fundamental objectives of GFOI. The capacity building works directly with countries to help build their national forest monitoring capabilities. This component is jointly managed by the US SilvaCarbon and UN-REDD-FAO programmes. These programmes facilitate hands-on training and in-country support through a combination of different methods, including training in the use of tools and methods that have been developed by GFOI partners to support key tasks such as data acquisition, analysis and reporting; including through the use of OpenForis, BFAST and BEEODA. Visit the Capacity Building component page for more information.
  2.  Methods & Guidance Documentation (MGD): provides methodological advice on forest monitoring and MRV for REDD+. The MGD provides a systematic workflow approach to guide countries through the otherwise complex process of developing forest monitoring and MRV systems. It provides direct links between UNFCCC decisions and reporting requirements, with the good practice guidance provided by the IPCC. It is not biased towards any particular method or approach, instead it provides overarching guidance on operational methods and approaches to MRV.

    Visit the Methods and Guidance component page for more information.

  3. Space Data Coordination Group (SDCG): facilitates the availability and accessibility of satellite data for countries to use in monitoring their forests. The SDCG coordinates space agencies to influence satellite acquisition to ensure data coverage and continuity that meets REDD+ country needs. It works with both data users and producers to facilitate improved accessibility and usability of satellite data. This component is led by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS), with contributions from its member space agencies.

    Visit the Satellite Data component page for more information.

  4. R&D Coordination: ensures that new technologies, datasets and methods for forest monitoring are developed and provided to countries in a manner that best meets their needs. In return, the R&D Coordination component works to ensure that country needs and continued knowledge gaps are communicated back to the research community to help guide future research and development tasks. The component also coordinates priority research topics such as monitoring forest degradation, mapping forest types, interoperability of different datasets, uncertainty analysis and model integration. This component is led by the GOFC-GOLD Land Cover Office at Wageningen University, which coordinates a broad community of international researchers working on improving forest monitoring and MRV techniques.

    Visit the R&D Plan component page for more information.

Photo credit: CIFOR.