Methods & Guidance Documentation


GFOI is developing a set of methods and guidelines for estimating future carbon stocks to support countries in their effort to build national forest monitoring systems. This will help ensure that forest carbon assessments are credible, comparable and transparent. Its first set of methods and guidance advice is now available:

Integrating remote-sensing and ground-based observations for estimation of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in forests: Methods and Guidance (MGD) from the Global Forest Observations Initiative can be dowloaded here

This document provides recommendations on establishing national Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems consistent with IPCC guidance and UNFCCC requirements.

A number of the GFOI Participating Countries and organisations are engaged in testing the GFOI Methods and Guidance Documentation and in providing feedback on gaps and issues that may need attention in support of country needs. Short technical summaries (called Modules) are being developed to summarize the results of this work, as they emerge. GFOI plans to use the experience accumulated in the Modules to update the MGD periodically. The Modules currently available can be found here 

A version of this docuemnt subject to a final copy edit was presented to the GEO X plenary in January 2014. The final copy edit made a few small changes that did not alter the methodolgy and aproach provided. A summary of these changes can be downloaded here. Some issues were subsequently found in the original version with table numbering and one of the examples, these are listed here. The version on this web site has been corrrected.

GFOI aims to serve the needs of countries by helping them: 

  • estimate carbon emissions and removals, and hence qualify for incentives from Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
  • develop national natural resource management capacities.  

This will be accomplished by helping secure long-term provision of satellite earth observation data to countries, and by helping build capacity to use these data in combination with ground-based observations to estimate and report on changes in forests and their carbon stocks in a manner consistent with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodologies and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirements.

The GFOI Methods & Guidance Documentation is being developed by of a world-class team of experts and stakeholders (including from FAO and GOFC-GOLD) specialising in forest information systems and the observations underpinning those systems, as well as experts in the assessment of forest carbon emissions and removals. The main topics covered are:

  • Overview of generic IPCC methods, their application for UNFCCC reporting and the implementation of REDD+, and considerations a country should examine when designing an NFMS.
  • Generic guidance for the application of remote-sensing (RS) and ground-based observations for improved Green House Gas (GHG) estimation associated with forests.
  • Using RS and ground-based observations to construct or improve estimates of GHG emissions and removals from forests in specific scenarios.
  • Synthesizing resulting material into reporting consistent with UNFCCC requirements.

A number of the GFOI Participating Countries will be engaged to test the GFOI Methods and Guidance Documentation and to provide feedback on gaps and issues that may need attention in support of country needs.

Contact: Australia is the co-lead responsible for the Methods and Guidance Documentation component of GFOI. Please contact



Preliminary Biomass Carbon Map for the DRC (DIAF, OSFAC)