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FAO, Google, and Partners Launches ‘Ground’ App to Empower Forest Monitoring and Protection Efforts

The launch of the ‘Ground’ app underscores a collective commitment to leveraging technology for the preservation of our planet's forests.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO, Google, and Partners Launches ‘Ground’ App to Empower Forest Monitoring and Protection Efforts
FAO, Google, and Partners Launches ‘Ground’ App to Empower Forest Monitoring and Protection Efforts

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) spotlighted groundbreaking innovations (Ground App) aimed at combatting deforestation and forest degradation. These innovations encompass advances in forest monitoring, early warning systems, and other technical solutions crucial for preserving our global forests. FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo emphasized the pivotal role of innovation and technology in catalyzing what she termed as a "forest data revolution." With approximately 10 million hectares of forest lost annually due to deforestation and a further 70 million hectares affected by fires, the urgency for novel solutions is evident.

Urgent Action Supported by AIM4Forests Initiative

Technological innovation, coupled with the scaling up of practices, has been bolstered in 20 countries, including Papua New Guinea, through the AIM4Forests initiative. Supported by a $30 million grant from the United Kingdom in 2023, this initiative, implemented in collaboration with UN-REDD and GFOI, aims to combat deforestation while ensuring the active involvement of Indigenous Peoples in forest monitoring.

Graham Stuart, the United Kingdom's Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, reiterated the UK's commitment to supporting developing countries in climate change adaptation and forest protection. Stuart emphasized the significance of initiatives like AIM4Forests in preserving forests vital for mitigating climate change impacts.

A Game-Changing Mobile Application

During the International Day of Forests event, FAO launched Ground, a revolutionary mobile application developed in collaboration with Google. Ground, a part of FAO's Open Foris initiative, is designed for non-technical users, particularly in areas with limited internet connectivity. It enables indigenous people and farmers to collect vital information about their forested or agricultural lands.

Expanding Partnerships for Innovation

Ground marks the latest milestone in FAO's collaboration with Google, aimed at leveraging technology for environmental conservation. The new multi-year Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and Google underscores their commitment to furthering innovation across FAO's mandate.

The advent of digital public goods, including FAO's initiatives and Google Earth Engine, has significantly enhanced our ability to monitor and assess forest carbon fluxes. These advancements not only improve our understanding of forests' role in climate action but also hold the potential to unlock results-based finance, driving sustainability efforts worldwide.

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