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The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) was the most comprehensive since FAO first reported on forest resources 50 years ago.

There are two possible approaches to a global assessment of forest resources. One approach is to collect data at the field level and to aggregate information upward to the country, regional and global levels. The other approach is to look down from above, either literally by using satellite remote sensing, or figuratively through global studies. FRA 2000 was based on the bottom-up approach, but supplemented by global level verification. The backbone of FRA 2000 is the data, information and knowledge provided by countries. However, because of inconsistencies in data quality and availability, country information was verified and supplemented with "top down" studies and remote sensing analysis using the latest technology. Countries were then invited to review and comment on the outcome of the combined global analysis. The result was a forest assessment of unprecedented scope and participation.

FRA 2000 emphasized collaboration and transparency. The assessment was based on the assumption that country participation in all phases of the process was the best way to ensure that countries would have a sense of ownership of the data and the results of the assessment, and would thus be inclined to use the data in the development and implementation of policies and programmes to improve the management of their forest resources. National experts reviewed and verified country data. Where countries lacked the capability to carry out their own assessments, training and assistance were provided to build national capacity. Regional workshops were held to improve data quality and to build capacity through South-South cooperation. Leading technical experts were called upon to develop methodologies and to assist with the analysis. Partnerships were formed with leading institutions to take advantage of their comparative advantages. Of particular importance, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) served as the focal point for information about industrialized countries.

The mandate for FRA 2000 was established by the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). At the request of both bodies, efforts were made to broaden the parameters included in the assessment to provide a comprehensive view of a broad range of forest resources.

FRA 2000 thus compiled and analysed a wide range of information about the extent, composition, protection and utilization of forests for each country. Special attention was given to estimating the rate of change of forest resources and to documenting the factors implicated in these changes. The assessment also included an independent pan-tropical remote sensing survey of forest cover change. A set of global maps of forest cover and ecological zones was prepared using the remote sensing data. The world's forests were classified into 20 ecological zones, subsets of the broader tropical, subtropical, temperate and boreal domains.

This publication constitutes the principal report of FRA 2000. The main findings on forest area and area change are presented in Part I, Chapter 2. Part I also presents the results of studies on wood volume and biomass, plantations and other key parameters studied in FRA 2000 including trees outside the forest, biological diversity, forest management, forests in protected areas, forest fires, wood supply and non-wood forest products.

Part II presents findings organized by geographic region and subregion. More detailed data by country are posted in the country profiles on the FAO Forestry Web site:

Part III describes the methodologies and processes underpinning the assessment. It includes chapters describing the framework for obtaining country information; the methodology used in the pan-tropical remote sensing survey of forest cover change; and the mapping processes used to obtain the global maps of forest cover and ecological zones. Also described is the development of a comprehensive forestry information system (FORIS) which was created to assemble and disseminate the FRA 2000 results. This system is integrated with other FAO databases and is accessible on the Internet.

Part IV summarizes the conclusions of the assessment, reviews the process and presents recommendations for future efforts.

Finally, detailed appendices provide terms and definitions and comprehensive tables of the global statistics presented by country and region. Also included are a listing of other FRA 2000 publications, a summary of earlier forest resources assessments, and a comparison of the results of FRA 1990 and FRA 2000.

Findings for each country are available in country pages on the FAO Forestry Web site, which are updated as new information becomes available. FRA Working Papers documenting the assumptions underlying the assessment and references to the original sources for all material are also available on the Web site.

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