ESA title

Forest Monitoring Services

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / Copernicus

The sustainable management of forests is increasingly recognised as an urgent challenge. The future of forests has serious socio-economic implications and impacts global concerns that include accelerating biodiversity loss and climate change. Given the broad diversity of forest environments worldwide, the challenge is highly complex and demands effective monitoring capabilities.


GSE Forest Monitoring (GSE–FM) is a unique multi-disciplinary enterprise that delivers a suite of standardised products and services to support forest monitoring activities.

GSE Forest Monitoring supplies accurate, timely and readily available information on the state of forests to a variety of users and beneficiaries. The products and services are designed to support better informed decisions, operational activities and improved policies that significantly enable sustainable forest management.

GSE–FM integrates the most relevant and recent scientific research, best (monitoring) practices with the latest analytical tools and information technologies. The resulting products and complementary services were designed with a strong emphasis on user requirements and with a clear policy focus on the following service examples:

  • Support to National Reporting Obligations of UNFCCC & KP on LULUCF
  • Support to Management and Reporting Obligations of LULUCF CDM Projects
  • Clear Cut Mapping and Monitoring Service
  • Sub-National Forest Information Update Service
  • Land Cover and Forest Indicator Service

Core users from a number of countries have been involved in the design, development and field application of GSE – FM products and services. The policy ‘engine’ driving this process has focused on the following priority sectors.


  • Climate Change
  • Sustainable Forest Management
  • Environmental Issues & Nature Protection


The GSE-FM service philosophy addresses unique user needs and policy requirements in these important areas including landmark agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity amongst others.

GSE-FM assists users to customise and improve their policies and management activities to meet the requirements of these agreements and other conventions of relevance to forests.

User Feedback & Involvement

The users who have received services so far have confirmed that the services are of high value. The vast majority of users wish provision of the service and the products for the entire territory of their field of activity for a final evaluation of the services utility in operational conditions. Most users expressed that temporal and spatial resolution of the satellite data as well as the data continuity are critical components for their confidence in the services.

GSE-FM offers essential services and resources to assist missions targeted to the International or Inter-Governmental Organisations including Development Agencies, National or Regional Governments, Local Governments or Forest Authorities, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), Private Enterprises or Research and Policy Institutions with an interest in sustainable forests.

Core User Group:

Austria: Federal Environment Agency UBA
Finland: Stora Enso Forest Consulting
France: Ministère de l'agriculture, de l'alimentation, de la pêche et des affaires rurales
Germany: German Environmental Agency (UBA)
Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture (BMVEL)
Thuringian State Institute for Forest, Game and Fishery (TLWJF)
Greece: National Observatory of Athens (NOA)
Russia: Forest Service of Irkutsk General Survey of Natural Resources FS GSNR
Poland: Ministry of Environment
South Africa: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
Sweden: The National Board of Forestry (NBF)


Furthermore, GSE-FM invites new users and especially service providers to join the growing network through an Open Service Partnership (OSP). Wider participation will contribute to the creation of a global forest monitoring capacity based on the high quality and standards implicit to GSE-FM.

Future Visions

GSE-FM is a long-term initiative with global goals. The recent consolidation phase, (to the end of 2004) successfully completed, during which key concepts, products and services were developed and applied by users with positive results.

The subsequent implementation phase (2005 onwards) envisages an incremental but significant growth in the number of users and service providers that will benefit from and/or support GSE-FM. Over the coming decade, the goal is to establish a worldwide network of users and service providers capable of promoting, managing and sustaining a global forest monitoring system.

Complementary projects – EC/National

Many projects are addressing the challenge of providing forest and land-use information using Earth Observation. GSE-FM coordinates with such projects to ensure that work is not being duplicated and users are not being confused, and that results from other projects are exploited. Existing complementary EO-based services are provided by:

  • DUP Kyoto Inventory
  • GSE Land
  • DUE Desertwatch
  • GLC2000
  • National Forest Inventories and National Forest Monitoring Programmes

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