Forest Carbon Monitoring

Forests are essential in maintaining healthy ecosystem interaction and biodiversity on Earth. They are in a key role in the fight against climate change, as with climate smart forest management their carbon storage potential can be significantly increased. Hence, several national and international initiatives (including the UNFCCC Paris Agreement and the EU LULUCF Regulation) require regular reporting of forest biomass and carbon. Voluntary forest certification and carbon market initiatives will require timely information on forest carbon fluxes. Robust, reliable and transparent monitoring approaches of forest biomass and carbon are needed to respond to reporting requirements.

The Forest Carbon Monitoring project will develop user-centric approaches to biomass and carbon monitoring, thereby aiming to meet the needs of different user groups, such as forest management companies, regional and national administrations and international organizations that have operational information needs concerning forest biomass and carbon. The project aims to develop and implement a prototype of a monitoring and accounting platform with consistent results on carbon stock, offering: 

  1. Selection of statistically robust monitoring methods designed for accurate large-scale and small-scale carbon accounting, removing barriers that prevent fact-based decision-making regarding forest carbon stocks.
  2. Cloud processing capabilities, unleashing the potential of the increased volumes of high-resolution satellite data volumes and other large datasets for forest biomass and carbon monitoring.

The platform will enable reliable Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) processes for forest carbon, following the IPCC Good Practice Guidance (GPG) and guidelines (GL) that are further defined in the guidelines of the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI).

The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and coordinated  by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Together with the eight partners (AFRYEuropean Forest InstituteGamma Remote SensingGFZ German Research Centre for GeosciencesNatural Resources Institute FinlandSatellioSimosol and the University of Helsinki) the consortium has world leading expertise on forestry stakeholder interaction, forest biomass and carbon monitoring, modelling and large scale online processing.

The project starts with policy and user requirements analysis and review of existing approaches (WP1, lead by EFI). This will lay the foundation for the selection and development of the most appropriate algorithms for forest carbon monitoring, uncertainty assessment and validation procedures for various user profiles. Optimal algorithm chains will be developed using eight training sites spread around Europe and including one site in Peru. Processing pipelines will be implemented into the Forestry TEP platform.

The last year of the project will focus on system piloting through demonstration cases. These include local cases aimed for private companies, regional to national cases for administrative agencies and a European-wide demonstration for international agencies.

More info at the project website:

Forest Carbon Monitoring is carried out under a programme of, and funded by, the European Space Agency. The information published here can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.


Project management
Hans Verkerk and Jo Van Brusselen,
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Project Schedule
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