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Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) uses satellite data to generate regularly updated online maps and alerts of tropical forest clearing. David Wheeler, now a CGD senior fellow emeritus, assembled and led a small team that created FORMA, which has since become a core component of the World Resources Institute (WRI) Global Forest Monitoring (GFW) platform launched in February 2014.
FORMA is now available for visualization, analysis, and download at GFW, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. CGD continues to work closely with WRI on forest monitoring issues as part of our Forests for Climate and Development initiative.
Using current data accessed via GFW, FORMA can 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.
Over the last few months, in the context of my new affiliation with CGD, I’ve been making a transition from “Forestry World” — which I inhabited for six years at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia — to “Development Finance World,” headquartered here in Washington with the World Bank, the IMF, and myriad think tanks and advocacy groups interested in development.
Imagine for a moment a world in which rich countries followed through on their rather vague promise at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their emissions and cope with climate change. How should that money be spent?
The latest news from FORMA demonstrates the power of global and regional economic cycles as drivers of deforestation. My previous post highlighted the rapid growth and spread of forest clearing during the first phase of the global economic recovery. Fortunately, new clearing has declined sharply since then, as the chart of FORMA's global indicator shows below. The effectiveness of forest protection may vary somewhat from quarter to quarter, but not nearly enough to explain such pronounced swings.