The Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, within the EU Presidency programme, organized a workshop entitled “Towards harmonised Forest Observation, Reporting and Data Collection Framework – are we there yet?” The workshop was held in the beautiful setting of Kutná Hora, a historic town which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, on 14-16 September 2022. The objective was to discuss at a technical level the state of the art in forest monitoring within the EU member states and its readiness to provide for a common harmonised Forest Observation, Reporting and Data Collection Framework as announced in the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030.
With around 70 participants from key stakeholders involved in European Forest monitoring, the workshop provided an excellent setting for exchanging information and ideas between different stakeholder groups and formulating common views on how to proceed in the process. In addition to the EU Directorate-General Environment (DG ENV) and representatives of the member states, the participants included forest monitoring researchers and key stakeholder organizations such as European Environment Agency (EEA), European National Forest Inventory Network (ENFIN), European Forest Institute (EFI), Forest Europe, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC-EC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The first day of the workshop concentrated on the EU forest monitoring system. The focus in the first session was on technical aspects, followed by a session focussing on governance. The program included both presentations from the participants, as well as a panel discussion including representatives from seven projects concentrating on forest monitoring. In addition to the Forest Carbon Monitoring project, among others, newly launched EU Horizon Europe projects such as PathFinder and ForestNavigator, which will concentrate on the development of forest monitoring framework in Europe, were represented in the panel discussion.
The second day featured group work and facilitated discussion with the aim to formulate recommendations towards an efficient and precise harmonised Forest Observation, Reporting and Data Collection Framework. The workshop resulted in a mutually agreed summary document listing 18 points on the current status and courses of future activities. This summary provides an excellent starting point for continued cooperation between the stakeholders aiming to respond to the requirements of the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030.
Several of the points raised in the workshop summary highlight the potential of remote sensing in the development of the Forest Observation, Reporting and Data Collection Framework. Throughout the workshop, the benefits of the increased volumes of remotely sensed data, powerful online processing platforms and synergistic use of in situ and remotely sensed data were raised. This further highlights the importance and timeliness of the Forest Carbon Monitoring project, and other similar projects, trying to overcome the remaining challenges to enable tight integration of remote sensing data into European forest monitoring frameworks.
The Forest Carbon Monitoring project would also like to take this opportunity to thank the workshop organizers for excellent practical arrangements and workshop activities, which created a pleasant and fruitful environment for the discussions.