Developed by researchers at CGD, Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) uses satellite data to generate rapidly updated online maps of tropical forest clearing, providing valuable information for local and national forest conservation programs. FORMA can also be used to support international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions by demonstrating to those willing to pay for forest conservation (for example, through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), bilateral programs such as Norway’s Forest and Climate Initiative or UN-REDD) that protected forests are indeed still standing. CGD has developed the Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR) system as a set of benchmarks that showcase global progress in reducing forest clearing and that could form the basis for such payments.
In 2012 CGD entered into a partnership with the World Resources Institute to incorporate FORMA into WRI’s Global Forest Watch 2.0, which will be launched early in 2014. WRI will take over the maintenance and management of FORMA. As part of GFW 2.0, FORMA will continue to use remote-sensing technology to show high-resolution, timely alerts of forest clearing activity in the humid tropics. GFW will include these alerts on a user-friendly platform. FORMA alerts can be used to help identify illegal logging and deforestation hotspots in tropical forest countries. Until recently, forest maps produced from Landsat satellite data took three years from the time the data was taken to being posted online. Because it will be available twice monthly, as part of GFW 2.0, FORMA will be an important tool for regular monitoring and enforcement at the country level. The FORMA data complement data on deforestation, derived from higher resolution satellites like Landsat which update less frequently.
CGD will continue to use FORMA data to produce quarterly updates on deforestation trends using fCPR. Deforestation data for tropical forest countries can be seen here.
Learn more about FORMA at WRI’s Global Forest Watch website.
Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) is now available for visualization, analysis, and download at Global Forest Watch, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. The Center for Global Development is a core partner in Global Forest Watch along with the World Resources Institute and over 40 other partners.
Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) and fCPR
Forest destruction accounts for about 15% of carbon dioxide emissions, much of it in tropical forests in developing countries. Since these countries also strive to reduce poverty and raise living standards, their support for forest conservation will be undermined as long as forested land has a higher market value in other uses, such as agriculture. Under these conditions, many proprietors will continue clearing their forested land unless they are given conservation payments that match or exceed the opportunity cost of the land. This economic insight has led to proposals to include forests in carbon markets to compensate developing countries for forest conservation.
This idea, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) is under discussion as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. In the meantime, the UN has established UN-REDD, a consortium of international donors has created the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and the Government of Norway has financed large-scale REDD programs in Brazil, Guyana, and Indonesia to help countries prepare for an eventual direct compensation scheme.
Although people in rich countries may be willing to pay for forest conservation in developing countries, their willingness to pay is closely linked to effective monitoring of results to ensure that the forests they pay to protect are in fact still standing. Without such verification, public support for such payments, which could reach billions of dollars annually, is very unlikely to be sustained.
FORMA is designed to facilitate conservation by identifying where and when forest clearing has occurred on a monthly basis. This information makes it easier to know where to intervene to stop the spread of forest clearing and is intended to complement national forest monitoring programs and local forest conservation efforts.
Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR)
Using the FORMA monitoring tool, CGD has developed a simple global performance rating system, called Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR) ,that rates a country’s performance in reducing forest clearing. The fCPR scorecard could potentially be used for results-based payments to developing countries for reducing forest clearing as an interim approach until robust national monitoring, reporting, and verification schemes are in place.
How FORMA Works
FORMA identifies forest clearing by analyzing publicly available satellite data from NASA and other public and academic institutions. In particular, it relies on changes in "greenness" and telltale patterns of fires detected by satellite that are indicative of forest clearing. Please visit the methodology page for a more detailed explanation.
FORMA and fCPR were developed by CGD senior fellow emeritus David Wheeler with support from a team that includes Daniel Hammer and Robin Kraft, who continue to work on FORMA. Further development of this work is currently led by CGD senior associate Michele de Nevers.
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