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To invest in data is to invest in our forests

Without data, we can’t measure the success of forest conservation efforts.
Having good data makes it possible to measure success – and attract investment. Pilar Valbuena/CIFOR

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Having accurate data is crucial if carbon credits and other forest conservation payment schemes are going to take off, according to a research director from Australia’s James Cook University.

“If we’re talking about carbon payments for conserving forests, we need to know what a country’s baseline rate of forest destruction or degradation was and then how much that’s declined in the future,” Bill Laurance, Director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, said in an interview during the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris.

And, Laurance noted, being able to show success is what will attract investment.

“We’re not going to get anybody to put carbon money or other kinds of payments into forest conservation if we don’t have data which shows the impacts and the benefits of doing it,” he said.

“Otherwise, you’re going to put it into safer options that they can more readily account for.”

The advancement of technology and the availability of information is also a powerful investment for forest monitoring and conservation.

“Having new satellite technology is fantastic. And the key is making all of it free and publicly available for anybody,” he said.

“That’s the real power of this stuff – to put that kind of investment out there and then to give it out to everybody. That’s really what we need.”

Watch the full interview with William Laurance here.

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