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F. Padovani1


The importance of timely and reliable information for strengthening sustainable forest management and forestry sector planning and policy formulation is well recognized. All of the global, national and local initiatives to promote sustainable forest management indicate the need to strengthen the information system.   But collection, processing and analysis of information are very resource demanding and there is an urgent need for rationalization of these processes. With several agencies involved in the collection of diverse data, there is multiple duplication of information and often national resources are stretched beyond their capacities. This sometimes leads to poor responses.

Since its establishment, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been at the forefront of developing inter-institutional collaboration in data collection and other related activities. FAO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) have been collaborating in data collection and dissemination for nearly five decades, benefiting both the member countries and the organizations. In the mid 1990s, the EUROSTAT (of the European Union) became a collaborator and in 1998 the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Council agreed to join the system. Representatives from the four organizations convened in September 1998 and January 1999; this led to greater efforts for collaboration and the development of the Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ), merging the ongoing work of FAO, ECE, EUROSTAT and ITTO.

The JFSQ now includes the FAO Forest Products Questionnaire, the FAO UN/ECE EUROSTAT Timber Bulletin Questionnaire and the ITTO Forest Products Enquiry that many countries received from individual organizations until 1998.

This joint questionnaire responds to requests from member countries of all four partner organizations to rationalize the data collection process and data dissemination. More particularly it aims to reduce multiple requests for information from member countries. The JFSQ is attached in Appendix 3 .

The basic principles and methods of cooperation include:

The information received through the joint questionnaire is distributed to all four organizations. In this way, the supply of information to international organizations is streamlined and avoids duplication of efforts.

The structure and contents of the JFSQ

The contents of the JFSQ are as follows:       

JQ1, JQ2    Basic questionnaire for all countries on removal, production and trade 
SP1   All countries, for secondary wood and paper products and trade values 
EU1, EU2     For EU and EFTA countries, requesting data on removal by species and intra-EU and extra-EU trade 
DT1, DT2     Direction of trade, for non-ECE countries (for ECE countries, this information is derived from general trade data sets, notably COMTRADE)  
ITTO1, ITTO2, ITTO3  For ITTO members, requesting data on trade in tropical species, and on market conditions and forecasts 
ECE1, EU1, EU2   For ECE members; requests more detailed information on trade of temperate species 

The four secretariats distribute the JFSQ to all countries (Table 1). The corresponding languages (English/French/Spanish) are indicated under the FAO logo.


JQ and DOT and SP1:      All countries 
ECE:    All ECE countries 
ITTO:     All ECE members of ITTO 
EU:       All EU and EFTA members (candidates to the EU will also be requested to complete this questionnaire) 
FAO:       All non-EFTA, non-ECE and non-ITTO countries 


The data structure

The statistical data collection categories for core forest products are structured hierarchically and are mutually exclusive, covering production or trade (quantity and value). The product categories are given in Appendix 3 (JQ1, JQ2, DOT1, DOT2), which are the basic forms for the Yearbook of forest products, the flagship FAO statistical publication on forest products.

The FAO coding (country codes and product codes) is embedded within the JQ1&2 and DOT1&2 and SP1.

The national correspondent’s address

A clear and complete address is required and is essential for any clarification or follow-up that is required.

Table 1. Geographical distribution of JFSQ and returns


All terms and definitions have been harmonized and cross-referenced with the Customs Cooperation Council Harmonised System 1996 (HS96) and the UN Standard International Trade Classification Revision 3 (SITC rev.3 January 1988).

It became necessary during the revision of the questionnaire to agree on certain terms and definitions, as well as a system of cross-references to international multisector classifications. Participants are invited to review the joint questionnaire paying particular attention to this point because the questionnaire, through its concepts and use of terms is setting the framework for all international analysis of developments in the sector. It is of the utmost importance that the framework is coherent and realistic.


"It is requested that the 2001 JFSQ be completed with all of the details for the calendar year 2001 and that one copy is sent in time to reach the different organizations by 20 August 2002 or earlier if possible." This is a common sentence employed by all organizations.

Some work still needs to be done in harmonizing the different dates for despatching the questionnaires and the deadline for returning them. This is very important if a more accurate annual picture of the forestry sector is to be obtained. Obviously, this depends on the timetable priorities within each organization. The statistical information cycle for the FAO Yearbook of forest products is reported in Appendix 1.

The fact that a country receives the JFSQ (containing the data for the four organizations) only once is a major improvement in organizing data collection and ensuring consistency in reporting. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons why the data quality of all four organizations has been criticized heavily in the past. Previously, the same information was requested from the national correspondent at four separate intervals by the four different organizations during the year. Naturally the national correspondent provided only the most recent data available (at different periods in the year), with the ensuing consequences of inconsistency in subsequent documentation.

Data validation

Data dialogue with correspondents will be carried out by EUROSTAT for EU/(EFTA) countries, by ECE/FAO for all other ECE members, ITTO for its member countries and by FAO for all remaining countries. When sectoral or regional analysis or data revision is carried out, each organization can request clarification from national correspondents.  

EUROSTAT, FAO and ITTO will receive all the JFSQ returns for their respective members in the ECE region from ECE/FAO Geneva for inclusion in their respective systems/publications. In the same way ITTO will send the JFSQ to FAO, ECE/FAO and EUROSTAT for their respective members.

It is assumed that the country returns are always comprehensive. But on occasion they are incomplete for very different reasons.

Some basic data validation approaches are used to monitor the quality of the data received and to decide whether to accept them or to find an alternative data source. Frequently, when necess ary confirmation cannot be obtained, estimates based on the previous year’s data are provided by flagging the information with an "F" or an "*"

The basic validation routines for the possible items/aggregates are:

In relation to the JFSQ in EXCEL, as in the past, the equivalence approach is used. This is possible because an empty questionnaire is provided where all the elements or aggregates have to be entered; a section within the spreadsheet was developed for the validation of the data entered. The equivalence was: 0 = aggregate (item1+item2+item3+...)

In the inputs there are unassociated automatic calculations, which in the past created problems for the national correspondents. Now the national correspondent can enter data available on hand and insert personal calculations, estimations, conversions, etc. In particular, the national correspondent can verify and identify any discrepancies and correct the data accordingly.

The aggregates are not calculated automatically or left unprotected on purpose. This is because if for some reason the national correspondent does not have the items or there is the risk of a confidentiality breach the correspondent can still allocate the aggregate. This exception is becoming more and more frequent in the pulp and paper production sector.  

International organizations depend on national institutions to make the data available. The quality of international data depends first on the quality of data collected by national institutions and secondly on success in capturing that data for international use.

Availability of the JFSQ

The JFSQ is provided in EXCEL and is available in various media. On hard copy, it can be sent via ordinary mail. But essentially the JFSQ is sent as a file attachment to the e-mail addresses of the national correspondents who request it. Notes on the JFSQ are provided by FAO (Appendix 2). In order to streamline the work of national correspondents and secretariats it can be downloaded also from

 The electronic spreadsheet version of the questionnaires in EXCEL comes in three languages (English/French/Spanish) and can be customized according to the language of the member country. This spreadsheet has a number of features that will help with data entry and transmission. Other languages such as Russian, Chinese and Arabic are available.

The Virtual Questionnaire (, an online data entry component of the JFSQ is under development. When it is ready, a country will be able to enter country data directly into the FAOSTAT working system on real time. At present all ECE country data are uploaded via the Geneva office. Within this year we will conduct a trial with selected countries.

JFSQ Returns

The JFSQ Returns are reported in Table 1.

Data dissemination

Each organization will consolidate and disseminate the country data collected according to its mandate.

As usual FAO will disseminate the data through the Yearbook of forest products and FAOSTAT/CD annually and on the Internet in July and December.

Action to be taken

Participants views on these matters should be reported to the appropriate bodies of the organizations, who will be invited to review the joint questionnaire. In February 2003, a revised version will be prepared for use in 2003 and subsequent years, taking into account all of the comments received.


This general enhancement has been made possible for several reasons, but the key element has been the general availability of information technology and the worldwide web within the administrations of most institutions/governments.

National correspondents at this workshop are invited to review the JFSQ and to provide inputs/suggestions with regard to data collection and analysis, specifically focusing on national and global needs for sector policy and planning and sustainable forest and forest product management.

Appendix 1. FAO Yearbook of forest products statistical information cycle (2001-2002)

Detailed plan:

IWGFS meeting

Date: 15–16/2/2001

Finalization of the JFSQ 2001

Dispatch of the Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ)

Date: 30/4/2001

The JFSQ in English, French and Spanish will be distributed to FAO correspondents in printed form. A note is included, which describes the objectives of the annual enquiry and expected returns of the JFSQ and the availability of a customized EXCEL Workbook at FTP ready for downloading via the WWW or a copy of it can be obtained via e-mail or by pouch.

Selected countries will use the online Virtual Questionnaire.


JFSQ/returns and sharing

Date: 15/6/2001 to 31/10/2001

Each country data returns is processed, validated and loaded within 10 days in the working system.

The JFSQ is shared between:

ITTO: weekly the JFSQs are sent to ITTO or received from ITTO

ECE: JQ1 and JQ2 from the ECE are uploaded in the working system by 20/6/2001

EUROSTAT: JQ1-2 on CIRCA by mid June and DOT1-2 by September

A reminder to FAO correspondents is sent in early September.

If required the country data are enriched with unofficial data sources.

The country data are available to our partners in a WRITE or READ mode for validation and usage.

Basic validation: ECE-EUROSTAT to June 20; FAO-ITTO to Sept 30.

Analytical validation: ECE-EUROSTAT (21–25 June); FAO-ITTO (1–15) October.

Internet quarterly update s for WWW dissemination

Date: 30/06/2001; 31/10/2001

Preliminary data available for selected countries and products in June and the final data by November.

Yearbook of forest products publication

Date: 1/6/2001–30/9/2001 (prototype); 1/11/2001–30/11/2001 (final)

Revisions: multilingual text (5 languages); report writing and FTP procedures .

Data validations: regional, country, products, aggregates, data level over time.


Production and release of statistical products

Date: 30/01/2002

Yearbook of forest products publication,


Yearbook of forest products publication in PDF on the WWW.

Dissemination/promotion of the statistical products

Date: 1/3/2002 onwards

Distribution of the Yearbook of forest products and the FAOSTAT/CD.


Ongoing activities

Date: ongoing over the year

Historical data revision, processing, validation, feedback, research, e-mail, revisions of classifications, revision of geographical and product aggregations, support to data user, etc.

Appendix 2. Notes to national correspondents

Notes to National Correspondents

Dear colleagues

Enclosed please find the 2001 Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire.  The participating agencies include United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE), European Union (Eurostat), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).  This joint questionnaire is in response to requests from member states of all four-partner organizations to rationalize our approaches to forest sector data collection and dissemination.

The information received through the joint questionnaire is distributed to all the four organizations. In this way, the supply of information to international organizations is concentrated, streamlined and no duplication of efforts is envisaged.

Please fill in all the questionnaires attached to this letter: we will pass on, the data you supply, to the other organizations of which your country is a member.

All the terms and definitions have been harmonized and cross-referenced to Customs Cooperation Council Harmonised System 1996 (HS96) and the UN Standard International Trade Classification revision 3 (SITC rev.3 January 1988).

It is requested that the 2001 Questionnaire be completed with all details for the calendar year 2001 and that one copy sent in time to reach



R. Michael Martin, Chief

Forestry Information and Liaison Unit

Forestry Department, Policy and Planning Division,

Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy,

Facsimile No:(+39 06) 5705-5137 or 5705-5514

E-mail: FO-Registry@FAO.ORG

by 20 August 2002 or earlier if possible.

We have available an electronic spreadsheet version of the questionnaires in Excel.  This spreadsheet has a number of features that will help in your data entry and transmission.  It is available at:

or can be obtained from or

Thank you for working with us to improve global forest sector statistics.

Yours sincerely

1 Forestry Officer, Forestry Planning and Statistics Branch (FONS), FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100, Rome



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