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Under the auspices of the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities (SPC) located in Fiji, the UN-REDD Programme delivered a three-day capacity building technical workshop in March on forest reference emission levels / forest reference levels (FREL/FRL) for Pacific countries.

The workshop, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as a collaborating partner of the UN-REDD Programme, is part of a series of capacity building sessions under the project Strengthening Regional Support to National Forest Monitoring Systems for REDD+ in the Pacific that began in May 2014. 

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Participants of the FRL capacity building workshop for the Pacific region. 

Some 22 technical officers from the Pacific countries of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea participated in the technical training workshop. Vanuatu was scheduled to participate but could not due to Cyclone Pam, additional support will be scheduled for Vanuatu. The training include technical presentations by FAO/UN-REDD Programme experts covering:

  •          Purpose of FREL/FRL (accessing climate finance, domestic use, global responsibility)
  •          Guidance from UNFCCC on FREL/FRL construction and submission
  •          Emerging examples of FREL/FRL
  •          Data requirements for FREL/FRL (historical activity data and emission factors)
  •          Need for a forest definition
  •          Scope (REDD+ activities, carbon pools and gases) of FREL/FRL
  •          Scale (national / sub-national) of FREL/FRL
  •          FREL/FRL construction methodology

Each technical presentation was followed by country group work, in which countries considered each technical element of FREL/FRL, their own circumstances and capacity and information gaps and needs. The workshop culminated in the presentation of country action plans for FREL/FRL construction that identified immediate technical tasks to be completed putting countries on a pathway toward submission of FREL/FRL to the UNFCCC.


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Participants of the FRL capacity building workshop for the Pacific region. 

The sub-regional FREL/FRL workshop was organized by FAO/UN-REDD Programme through a UN-REDD Programme Targeted Support request from Fiji, on behalf of Pacific countries. The same Targeted Support awarded to Fiji will allow a follow-up country working session on FREL/FRL construction in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; while the country working session in PNG will be funded by the PNG UN-REDD Programme National Joint Programme, and Papua New Guinea. Additionally, FAO/UN-REDD Programme will support the implementation of country action plans for FREL/FRL, and the follow-up country level FREL/FRL construction workshops.


Collect Earth land use change monitoring tool

In addition, the UN-REDD Programme, through FAO, is supporting Pacific island countries to use the Collect-Earth tool to gather information on land use and land use change to support reporting of greenhouse gas inventories (GHG) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In March, the SPC organized a two-week UN-REDD Programme-supported workshop to customize and develop Collect Earth based plot establishment. Forest officers from Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu participated in the training. Two officers from of the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority assisted the training and contributed with their Pacific experience in establishing Collect Earth plots which provided a very useful South-South knowledge exchange.

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 Participants and resource persons, FAO Collect Earth training workshop in Suva, March 2015


During the first week, a regional land use classification system was discussed and adapted which has some differences to the classification system of PNG but follows in general. This discussion stimulated the communication about the national forest definitions in the countries, which will most probably be more homogenous during the next months.

Three days were used to collect data using Collect Earth. During this period a classification rule was adopted from PNG, tested and agreed. The experience of the PNG resource persons guided the discussion. 



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 Forest officer Viliame Tupua, highly experienced in image interpretation and field verification, checks the Collect Earth sample plots.


Further training concentrated on using Saiku to create land use change statistics and utilization of Earth Engine to create maps. During the first week of the workshop a Pacific interpretation key was established, discussed and agreed.

During the second week all countries concentrated on Collect Earth plot establishment following the classification rule and interpretation key. The classification rule was not changed, all participants followed without requiring modifications. The interpretation key was further detailed to capture critical decisions

This interpretation key was distributed through the e-mail distribution list GIS-PacNet to all Pacific Island Countries shortly after the workshop with positive response.

Participants form Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands discussed the establishment of 10,000 Collect Earth sample plots each.

For Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, two local FAO consultants will carry out the plot establishment including weekly checks of each other by re-interpretation of 20 per cent. After establishing 5,000 plots, officers from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands Forestry and Agriculture will check 10 per cent of the plots and guide further data collection. The reason for data collection in Suva instead of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands is the much better Internet connection of the Regional Forest Monitoring Facility. Also the new computer equipment of the monitoring facility improves the work progress.

Fiji, which also uses the Regional Forest Monitoring Facility, 5,000 potential Collect Earth plots covering agriculture areas and 5,000 plots covering forests were separated. A trained officer of the Forestry Department established the plots and will be assisted by a second officer soon. Each week an officer with longstanding experience in image interpretation and field verification checks the data collection. Officers from the Agriculture Department will begin this process very soon.

In Fiji all mapping and remote sensing activities are presented and discussed on a three-month basis in the Fiji Geospatial Council under the guidance of the Permanent Secretary of Lands and Mineral Resources. The Permanent Secretary showed interest in receiving information from FAO on Collect Earth activities for their next meeting.

Additional UN-REDD Programme technical training support to the Pacific region will be ongoing, and will be reported on.






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