Technical Updates


Monday, 01 February 2021
Auditing from the sky: FSC launches new FSC GIS Portal


FSC’s new GIS portal will enable forest management auditors to access forest-relevant geospatial information and combine it with up-to-date satellite derived data. This will allow forest management auditors to prepare more easily for audits and enable an objective selection of areas for inspection during an onsite audit.

This will make audits more effective, as it allows part of the process to be conducted off-site and with objective tools, while focusing on-site part of the audit on elements, which cannot be monitored and analysed automatically, such as social aspects, management systems or changes occurring under the canopy.

The web app provides access to open-source geo spatial datasets from the University of Maryland such as

  • tree cover loss
  • intact forest landscapes
  • protected areas
  • Indigenous and community lands
  • water courses
  • boundary data of certified forest areas, voluntarily provided by our certificate holders*

*(If forest boundary data have not been provided by a certificate holder, the forest management auditor can either draw the outer boundary of the area under evaluation in the app or upload a boundary file temporarily)

These data sets can be combined with satellite imagery.

Combining the geospatial datasets with satellite imagery will allow for auditors to analyze and identify where positive or negative changes have happened in the area within a given time period.

The analysis can be done in combination with references to specific FSC Principles and Criteria, allowing forest management auditors to perform analysis of changes relevant to that criterion.

As an example, the auditor can choose criterion 6.7 “The Organization shall protect or restore natural water courses, water bodies, riparian zones and their connectivity.” and any changes happening in riparian zones and thereby close to water resources will be highlighted.

Currently the use of the FSC GIS Portal is restricted to certification bodies. However, it is envisioned that the use of the portal and its functionalities will be broadened as it develops.

Podcast Episode
Get more details on this project through FSC’s Forests of the Future Podcast episode. Learn about what the GIS portal can do, who can use it, how it will help innovate auditing processes and what next features are envisioned.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205