An efficient data management is the backbone of a National Forest Inventory (NFI) and many countries have developed their own systems for this purpose. Also in Ukraine, a self-developed software (SmallForest) is so far been successfully used for NFI field data collection. However, ongoing support and enhancement is problematic for personnel reasons. Therefore, a more sustainable, team-orientated approach is being considered.

But there are also universal solutions that can be adapted to specific national conditions. One such tool for data collection and evaluation is Open Foris developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). To learn more about new developments such as Open Foris Arena, the SFI-Project organised at 05.06.2024 an online meeting with FAO experts. The main objective was to explore options for using Open Foris to improve efficiency of NFI in Ukraine. More then 30 participants from administration, science and NGO´s participated in the event.

Andrii Shamrai, Head of the Centre of NFI, gave an overview on approaches, achievements and challenges with regard to NFI in Ukraine. He pointed to the main hampering factor for successful implementation of formerly planned NFI methodology, namely the Russian war, which has led to shortages in NFI budget as well as in accessibility of huge Ukrainian forest areas. Thus, a remote sensing based forest inventory (RS-Inventory) was chosen to implement for the whole country in a short period of time, using field data for calibration of satellite images. RS-Inventory outputs are ready to be reviewed on , among others particularly with distinction for accessible and inaccessible territories.

Marjukka Porvari, expert of European Commission/DG NEAR/Ukraine Service drew attention to the interest of information about forest damages caused by the war. In light of this SFI-Project is currently working on retrospective RS-Inventory in order to verify changes, e.g. in forest cover, growing stock in between 2019 and 2023.

Michael Wolf, representative of EU Delegation to Ukraine welcomed the work done by Ukraine but referred at the same time to the new EU Framework for Forest Monitoring and Strategic Plans and proposed to follow this initiative in light of EU integration processes also by Ukraine.

In the second section of the event Open Foris experts of FAO, Lauri Vesa and Ramiro Blazquez, introduced Ukrainian experts to Open Foris Arena, a relatively new element of the FAO Open Foris Initiative, representing “free and open software for environmental monitoring”. The experts pointed to the advantages of Open Foris Arena, as the easy handling, efficient data quality assurance, access to very high-resolution satellite images, hosting by Amazon cloud services with the unnecessary of a local data base installation. Some analytical tools are still in elaboration.

During the discussion it was clarified that Open Foris Arena is a new tool, which is so far only in very few countries used for NFI. However, an earlier version has already been used successfully in Georgia. So far not all important features for Ukraine seem to be available. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian NFI considers Open Foris Arena as a suitable example with potential for improving the data management. Thus, the CNFI is going to prepare a feasibility study. The aim is to investigate the features of Open Foris Arena and to elaborate the potential benefits for NFI in Ukraine.

Presentation Overview on NFI/RS-Inventory approaches in Ukraine – achievements and challenges

Presentation Introduction to Open Foris Arena

Video of Zoom conference