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1. Introduction

The world's forests are changing, in quantity and quality, and in both positive and negative ways. This process is associated with social, economic and environmental factors. These factors are not always presented in a comprehensive way, based on all available information and free of preconceived ideas or biases. What are the factors that motivate people to plant or cut trees and forests (human driving forces)? What are the natural phenomena that affect forest cover (natural driving forces)?

Forest Resource Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000), a priority program within the FAO Forestry Department, is executed at the request of all FAO member countries. FRA 2000 is based on country-level information from national inventories, research projects, national consultations and various studies that provide information on forest cover, volume and change over time.

FRA 2000 conducted two pilot studies on forest cover change (positive and negative) in Nepal and Guatemala. Country selection was based on the importance of the forestry sector in the development process of each country. The Nepal case study was developed in co-operation with national and international institutions that provided the best available information regarding the major factors, situations and processes that have an impact on forest and land cover change (deforestation, reforestation, afforestation, degradation).

This document is divided into the following main sections: