National Forest Monitoring (NFM) Working Paper n.5

Generating knowledge through national forest assessments

towards improved forest, land use and livelihood policies

Expert Consultation

Rome, 27-30 November 2006

National Forest Monitoring

Forests are crucial for the well being of humanity. They provide foundations for life on earth through ecological functions, by regulating the climate and water resources and by serving as habitats for plants and animals. Forests also furnish a wide range of essential goods such as wood, food, fodder and medicines, in addition to opportunities for recreation, spiritual renewal and other services.

Today, forests are under pressure from increasing demands of land-based products and services, which frequently leads to the conversion or degradation of forests into unsustainable forms of land use. When forests are lost or severely degraded, their capacity to function as regulators of the environment is also lost, increasing flood and erosion hazards, reducing soil fertility and contributing to the loss of plant and animal life. As a result, the sustainable provision of goods and services from forests is jeopardized.

In response to the growing demand for reliable information on forest and tree resources at both country and global levels, FAO initiated an activity to provide support to national forest monitoring (NFM). The support to NFM includes developing a harmonized approach to national forest assessments (NFAs), information management, reporting and support to policy impact analysis for national level decision-making.

The purpose of the NFM initiative is to introduce countries to an alternative approach designed to generate cost-effective information on forests and trees outside forests, including all benefits, uses and users of the resources and their management. Special attention is placed on monitoring the state and changes of forests, and on their social, economic and environmental functions. Another main objective is to build national capacities and harmonize methods, forest related definitions and classification systems among countries.

The support to National Forest Monitoring is organized under the Forest Management Division (FOM) at FAO headquarters in Rome. Contact persons are:

Mohamed Saket, Forestry Officer,

Kailash Govil, Senior Forestry Officer,

Dan Altrell, Forestry Officer,

Anne Branthomme, Forestry Officer,

Kewin Kamelarczyk, Associate Professional Officer,

or use the e-mail address:


The National Forest Monitoring (NFM) Working Paper Series is designed to reflect the activities and progress of the FAO support to: National Forest Monitoring and Knowledge Networks. Working Papers are not authoritative information sources – they do not reflect the official position of FAO and should not be used for official purposes. Please refer to the FAO forestry website ( for access to official information.


1 Introduction

1.1 Background information
1.2 Rationale
1.3 Objectives of the expert consultation
1.4 Expected outputs

2 Summary of the Expert Consultation

3 Key findings and recommendations

3.1 Integrating the National Forest Assessment into national processes
3.2 About the choice between National Forest Assessments (NFAs) and Integrated Land Use Assessments (ILUAs)
3.3 The role of networks in NFA processes and in promoting NFAs
3.4 The cost-benefit approach to NFAs
3.5 Forest resources information as a public good
3.6 How provided information is used in national policy and decision making
3.7 Country ownership
3.8 Enhancing expertise on and understanding of National Forest Assessments
3.9 Optimizing an adapting NFA methodology - developing a toolbox of methodological components of NFAs
3.10 Communication as key element of NFAs
3.11 Cross-sectoral linkages
3.12 The role of FAO
3.13 Conclusions and follow-up actions to the Expert Consultation

Annex 1 - List of the participants

Annex 2 – Agenda

Annex 3 – Daily working groups

3A. Discussions and findings of Working Group 1: Policy requirements from NFA and ILUA
General considerations
Type of data and information that can be collected / generated by an NFA or integrated assessment
Responses to the Terms of Reference by Working Group 1:

3B. Discussions and findings of Working Group 2: What needs to be improved in NFA/ILUA methodology to meet shifting policy demands?
General considerations
Characterisation of the shifting policy demands
What are the “elements of methodology” to be considered?
Responses to the Terms of Reference by Working Group 2:

3C. Findings of Working Group 3: Advisory role of FAO to countries including developing and maintaining knowledge networks
General considerations
Responses to the Terms of Reference by Working Group 3:

Annex 4 – List of background documents

4A. Developments in the National Forest Assessments Methodology

4B. Information Management

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