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As of: July 2016

Global Forest Survey (GFS)

Objective and activities

The Global Forest Survey (GFS) is developing a global network of permanent sample plots, which generates standardised information for characterising forest ecosystems around the world. The collection of forest data includes a comprehensive selection of thematic areas, for example forest resources, biodiversity, changes in the carbon balance and forest conditions. The global network of sample plots for forest ecosystems generates data sets, which are freely available and globally standardised. The data form an important foundation for countries participating in the REDD+ mechanism. The project enables the countries to report on emission levels resulting from land-use changes in a standardised format to the UNFCCC. The data collection follows a ‘permanent’ approach so that changes can be documented over time and will be made available to the public through an internet portal.

State of implementation/results

  • A steering committee for the project was established and has already met twice. It consists of representatives of research institutions from 18 countries. The committee is developing the survey methods and an open data policy.
  • A total of 13 training workshops were carried out.
  • The Collect Earth Tool, which was developed as part of the IKI sister project Global Forest Monitoring, digitally classified 200,000 sample plots by evaluating satellite imagery.  
  • Preparations for the procurement of technical equipment for a field survey of 4,000 plots are underway.
  • New and ground-breaking scientific findings from the classification of forests in drylands (conducted by 200 experts within the project) were included in a first scientific publication ("Trees, forests and land use in drylands: The first global assessment" PDF, 2.2MB). The worldwide area of forests in arid regions is, after first evaluations, more extensive than previously expected. A scientific publication of the results is planned in the second half of the project.

Project data

Global: Angola, Bolivia, Botswana, Ecuador, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Partner institution:

National FAO focal points

Implementing organisation:

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO – Forestry Department

BMUB grant:
€ 3,500,000

05/2014 till 04/2017


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