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The Open Foris Initiative was established in 2009 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to develop, share and support tools and methods for multi-purpose forest assessment, monitoring and reporting. The Initiative was spearheaded by the FAO-Finland Forestry Programme as part of FAO’s support to Forest Monitoring and Assessment in collaboration with the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) and the UN-REDD Programme. Additional contributions have been made by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) and other public and private institutions and individuals. Originally piloted together with the national forest inventories of five countries, Open Foris has since been adopted by public and private institutions in over a half-dozen projects at national and subnational level.

The Initiative supports sustainable capacity and institutional development by providing tools which facilitate national forest inventory (NFI) data management and processing, while minimizing the barrier to entry frequently faced by developing countries. It aims to give countries the tools and knowledge needed to perform evidence-based policy development and decision making, strengthen sustainable forest management and to meet national and international reporting requirements.

The Initiative develops and supports innovative, easy-to-use tools needed to produce reliable, timely information on the state of forest resources and their uses. This includes biophysical, socioeconomic and governance aspects of forests essential to decision makers and other forest stakeholders, as well as data needed to address growing international reporting requirements. The tools aim to simplify the complex process of transforming raw data, such as tree measurements and satellite imagery, into valuable information in the form of interactive web pages producing statistics, graphs, maps and reports.

All tools and methods developed under the Initiative are open-source, meaning all source code may be reviewed and modified by peers without special permission or licenses. The Initiative’s core principles of country ownership and transparent, open collaboration with partners have made it easy for national and local governments and other public and private institutions to both adopt and contribute to Open Foris.

Open Foris supports open data, the free sharing of data and information to all stakeholders, researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), entrepreneurs, communities and citizens. The open access to data stimulates innovative data analysis, further demand for data and increases countries' capacity to share and produce data. It also improves transparency of governance and facilitates private sector investments.

The Open Foris tools embody FAO’s broad experience and knowledge in addressing cross-cutting forest monitoring and assessment needs. Through FAO’s global network of partners and experts, these tools are designed, tested, applied and improved in real-world conditions to ensure they are relevant and provide value to users and beneficiaries.

Open Foris tools take a modular approach, providing components which may be mixed and matched to best fit user needs. Industry-standard best practices are followed (issue tracking, automated testing, self-documenting code, etc.) to maximize quality and usability. Where relevant, open standards are also applied to allow interoperability with existing systems and infrastructure. This also facilitates data portability; ensuring data is not “trapped” in a closed system and is accessible independently of future technology decisions.

Tools are being built to support the entire inventory lifecycle, from needs assessment, design, planning, field data collection and processing, estimation, analysis and dissemination. Current tools include flexible PC and Android-based solutions for field data management (Open Foris Collect), and advanced remote sensing image processing tools (Open Foris Geospatial Toolkit). User-friendly tools will also soon be available to facilitate in-country calculation and analysis of forest resource data for multiple purposes, including national and local decision making as well as REDD+ MRV, FRA, GHG and other reporting.




Open Foris Calc

Robust, modular browser-based tool for NFI results calculation. Allows expert users to write their own custom R modules to perform country/inventory-specific calculations. (Prototype planned for Q1 2014...)

Open Foris Collect

Open Foris Collect provides a flexible solution for field data management, allowing full customization of inventory structure, variables and data checks. Collect promotes data quality through an integrated data entry and data cleansing workflow. Collect introduces the concept of the Inventory Data Metamodel (IDML), a formal description (i.e., metadata) of the types of variables, classifications and coding schemes used by the inventory. All inventories documented in this way may be entered and retrieved through a user-friendly interface, without additional programming. Collect is available in both standalone (offline) or web-based (online) versions. For more information, click here.

Collect Mobile for Android

Collect Mobile prototype is currently being tested and the first version will be released in 2014.

Open Foris Geospatial Toolkit

Open Foris Geospatial Toolkit is a collection of command-line utilities for processing geographical data.

You can follow the link here for the Open Foris Toolkit Main Page

A collection of stand-alone programs and scripts for geospatial data Processing. Most of the tools have been developed and tested in Ubuntu Linux environment and they use GDAL libraries and command-line utilities. For details, see here.

Future Development

In addition to tools for data collection and geospatial data processing, tools for forest mensuration calculation, analysis and reporting are currently under development. Open Foris Design Tool for Inventory and Monitoring is also current being developed by US Forest Service. Check back regularly for updates on latest progress.

Join our rapidly growing community of users and developers on the official Open Foris Intiative Yammer network.

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