According to the most recent Forest Resources Assessment report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FRA2020), the UNECE region has been one of few regions where forest area has increased over the last three decades, up by 33.5 million hectares. This puts countries in the UNECE region at the forefront of the global race to achieve one of the key indicators of Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land, pertaining to the overall increase of forest area.
However, this is only one of a few hundred forest features that are monitored, assessed and reported by countries and organizations. Much more information about conditions, dynamics, and the use of over 1.7 billion ha of forests in the UNECE region is regularly collected by different agencies. But until now, such data has often been dispersed over various online platforms and publications; not easy to find and difficult to access and interpret.
Together, UNECE and FAO are aiming to change this with the new online platform, “INForest”, that gathers key information on forests and the forest-based sector in the UNECE region in one place, provides a user-friendly interface and highlights the wealth of information that is already available.
The platform offers the most up-to-date source of information about the size of the forest area and how it has changed over decades, the structure of forests, the goods and services forests provide, as well as their contribution to the health of our economies, societies and the environment.
Users navigating this tool will be able to dive deep into individual countries’ use of forest resources, the area damaged by forest fires, as well as the extent of forest area under independently verified forest management certification schemes. Time series on important issues, such as forest ownership, are also available; along with detailed data on the proportion of natural forest areas compared to planted forests, covering countries as diverse as the Netherlands, Moldova and the United States of America.
The platform is meant to be used by a wide range of users interested in forests and the sector, including researchers, students, decision-makers, as well as journalists searching for the most up to date information.
The platform was officially launched on 23 March 2021. The recording of the meeting can be accessed here. The user guide is here.
“INForest” can be accessed here.