Free software tools that should improve the way many developing nations monitor the state of their forests to tackle deforestation and climate change were launched by the Food and Agri-culture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in October 2014.
The software called Open Foris is designed to assist countries through the entire lifecycle of a forest inventory - from assessment, design and field data collection to analysis and reporting. The governments of Finland and Germany have supported the development of the software.
Accurate information about forests is crucial for governments to manage their natural resources sustainably, but nearly 80 per cent of developing countries have difficulty obtaining and using basic information about their forest resources.
The new FAO tools simplify the complex process of transforming raw data such as tree meas-urements and satellite imagery into valuable information in the form of interactive web pages with statistics, graphs, maps and reports.
In addition, the software includes built-in tools to help countries meet international reporting requirements, for example in the context of REDD+ activities related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and increasing the carbon stock in forests.
Forest rangers collect information on canopy cover and the number, size, species and quality of trees as well as the use of forest resources by local populations before entering the data into Open Foris software back at the office.
The inventory will soon become even more efficient when rangers start using an Open Foris tool that enables them to enter data directly with their smartphones or tablets, eliminating the need to input information collected on paper forms.
Open Foris tools are already being successfully tested in more than ten countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
More information:Open Foris