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4. Review of the progress of the country projects

4.1 The Philippines

4.1.1 Background

The presently available information on the extent, location, volume and condition of the Philippine forest resources were obtained in the 1980’s. As a consequence, the data and information used to prepare plans and programmes on the management, development, protection and utilisation of forest resources are obsolete. In addition, the information from the latest national forest inventory refers only to designated forest land, and only to the biophysical properties of the forest.

The second national forest inventory (nfi) was carried out in 1979-1988, with the assistance of donor funding throughout this time. It was designed as a conventional national forest inventory, based on a large number of sample plots, backed up with full-cover aerial photo interpretation. The inventory covered the legally designated ”forest land”, i.e. about 19.4% of the land area (FRA 2000). The inventory was designed mainly to support decisions related to the production of wood.

Two donor-assisted attempts were made to update some of the national level information, using remote sensing data to map the land cover/land use for the entire country. In 1987/88, Spot images were used to map the entire country, which provided newer land cover statistics compared to the nfi which had an average inventory year about five years earlier. Unfortunately, the information was not compatible with the nfi and could not be used to establish trends. Since 1997, a project using Landsat images from recent years has produced another land cover map, presently covering about 80% of the country, mainly in the scale 1:100,000. Also this information showed to be incompatible with previous surveys, and reliable calculations of land use area changes can still not be made. Also, the precision and accuracy of area classifications are unknown in the two map sets.

Following a request by the Philippines for FAO support, an FRA expert traveled to the Philippines in 2002 to initiate a project for the pilot assessment of forest resources as part of the framework of FAO FRA Programme to support national forest resource assessments.

4.1.2 Project Design

The project adopts the systematic sampling design, using a grid of tracts that are established at each 15’ longitude and 15’ latitude intersection. The coordinates of the southwest corner of the tracts correspond to the points located in the initial systematic plan.

A tract measures 1 km x 1 km. Each tract contains a group of four (4) field observation/sample plots. Each sample plot measures 20 m x 250 m. The basic lines of the sample plots constitute a square of 500 m whose center matches the center of the tract. The plots start at each corner of the 500m square. Data are collected through field works in these plots.

Three hundred and ninety five (395) tracts were initially identified to be established nationwide. It is expected that all the tracts will be visited in one year (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Tract distribution for the nfi in The Philippines

4.1.3 Planning

In May 2002, an FAO team of experts visited the Philippines as a follow-up to project formulation mission. They met with the members of the FRA Steering Committee and FRA National Coordinating Team and presented and discussed the proposed inventory design and data collection methodology as well as variables to be collected. The mission also updated FMB on the status of the draft Letter of Agreement.

In September 2002, NCOs assisted, in collaboration with the Forestry Department of FAO, in reviewing and refinement of the FRA Field Manual and Field Forms. In same occasion NCOs conducted field-testing of the inventory sampling design and data collection methodology and determined the team composition of a field crew and the average man-days to inventory a tract.

NCOs contacts with regional authorities to introduce the FRA project:

4.1.4 Preparation of field equipment, transport and information

In September 2002 NCOs identified, in collaboration with the Forestry Department of FAO, surveying/measuring instruments needed to collect data. They drafted memorandum to all DENR Regional Executive Directors requesting to submit to FMB list of available surveying instruments in the regions and contacted and made arrangements with identified dealers of surveying instruments.

Surveying instruments were purchased from dealers who submitted the lowest quotations and regional and provincial maps were purchased from NAMRIA.

In October 2002 NCOs prepared lists of tracts by region showing their respective location according to province, municipality and land use, and distributed to RFITs their respective surveying instruments, maps and list of tracts.

Nomination of field crew members was done already May 2002 by NCOs with drafted memorandum which was sent to all DENR Regional Executive Directors requesting to submit to FMB the names of two regional personnel with background in timber inventory.

4.1.5 Training

Training of field crews members (from 16 administrative regions) was done in October 2002 by NCOs in collaboration with the Forestry Department of FAO in the province of Laguna.

Human Resources Development Service offered technical assistance in the conduct of the nfa training. DENR field officers and the Director of Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems were used to identify potential sites for field practice and for overall coordination of the training.

4.1.6 Fieldwork

Fieldwork started during November 2002. Teams have five to six members; two foresters and three to four locally hired labourers. Each team was accompanied be NCO in the beginning of their work and by the end of the year 73 tracts were accomplished, out of the 82 tracts programmed for the period. Teams who committed mistakes in filling up the Field Forms were still visited in the field and advised further.

4.1.7 Plans for data entry, processing and management

NCOs have purchased one desktop computer for data entry and processing work and employed on contractual basis a computer operator to manage data submitted by field team leaders. Data entry and processing work started in February 2003 with the assistance of Forestry Department of FAO.

There has been also a discussion with the Project Leader of Forestry Statistical Information System (FSIS), an ongoing project of FMB to develop information services on forest resources and products, the possibilities of co-management of nfa data.

Information generated by field crews at these sites, as well as aggregated findings, will be made public. FAO will assist in the organisation and dissemination of information over the Internet.

4.2 Guatemala

4.2.1 Background

Guatemala is located in Central America just below Mexico (Figure No 2). The country is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean in the south, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize in the east and a short strip facing the Caribbean part of the Atlantic Ocean. Guatemala covers 108,889 Km2 where about 25% is covered by forest. Its population is about 12 millions. It is characterized by a diverse topography with flat lowlands in the north and the Pacific cost and very mountainous central-south leads to a varied climate and vegetation.

Figure No 2. Map of Guatemala (localisation)

In November 2001, the Government of Guatemala requested the assistance of FAO to plan and implement the first national forest assessment with the objective to establish permanent sample plots systematically distributed in the whole country to monitor national forest- and tree resources as basis for national decision making concerning the forestry sector.

4.2.2 Inventory Design

Guatemala adopted the FAO/FRA National Forest assessment (NFA) methodology with some small modifications and additions to better meet national needs of information.

Guatemala with a very diverse topography and vegetation was divided into three strata according to the national ecological zones.

A northern stratum of relatively homogeneous lowland, a southern stratum of relatively homogeneous coastal plain and a central stratum of heterogeneous high mountain and valley areas (see Figure No 3). 108 tracts (1x1 km2) are systematically distributed at higher density in the heterogeneous central stratum and lower density in the northern and southern strata to optimise the precision in the national statistics).

In each tract four sample plots (250x20 m2) are distributed and laid out in directions south-north, west-east, north-south and east-west according to the FAO/FRA standard nfa design. Some parameters are measured only in sub-plots to lower the work-load. The national design of the Guatemalan nfa includes two additional sub-plots to the FAO/FRA standard design; “PAN 3” and “PAN 4”. PAN 3 represents the left half of the sub-plot level 1 (PAN 1) and here bayal and mimbre are measured. PAN 4 represents the upper left quarter of the sub-plot level 2 (PAN 2) and here xate is measured.

Figure No 3. Stratification used in the nfi in Guatemala (natural division map)

Figure No 4. Tract configuration and distribution for the nfi in Guatemala

4.2.3 Planning

During the planning phase, the following activities have been undertaken and completed:

4.2.4 Training

The team leaders of the field crews and supervisors from INAB and CONAP and the university UVG were trained in the NFA methodology during a workshop held in Antigua in June 2002. The methodology was then presented by the national NFA coordinator Carla Ramirez Zea and her assistant Rodrigo Rodas. During the workshop two days were dedicated to field tests to better practice and understand the methodology.

During the fieldwork, regional technicians from the national forest institutions and universities have accompanied the field crews while carrying out the inventory as part of the training.

4.2.5 Presentations/seminars

4.2.6 Fieldwork

The fieldwork is divided between 6 field crews composed of experienced technicians in forest inventory. By15 January 2003:

4.2.7 Plans for data entry/processing and management

Data entry and storage: Primary inventory data from 15 sampling units are currently stored in an MS Excel workbook specially developed for the Guatemalan NFA inventory data. Later this year data will be entered in an MS Access database application developed by FAO/FRA in Rome.

Data analysis and reporting: No analysis of the inventory data has been made so far except for quality control. Data analysis will be conducted through the FAO/FRA database application and standard reports will be prepared through the same application.

4.3 Cameroon

4.3.1 Background

The Republic of Cameroon, located in western Africa, is bounded on the north by Lake Chad; on the east by Chad and the Central African Republic; on the south by the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea; and on the west by the Bight of Biafra (an arm of the Atlantic Ocean) and Nigeria (see maps). It covers an area of 475 442 km2 laying between latitudes 2° and 13° N (about 1 200 km) and longitudes 8° 30´and 16° 10´ E, and for the most part between 200 and 800 m above sea-level. Cameroon has a tropical climate, humid in the south but dryer to the north. Rainfall ranges from about 4 000 mm on the coast to about 400 mm in the north-east. The average temperature in the south is 25° C, while on the plateau it is 21° C and in the north it is 32° C.

Figure 5: Maps of Cameroon: localisation (left) and global ecological zones (right).

Source: FAO, 2000.

Forest resources knowledge is relatively low in the country. National statistics about the forest resources produced for the FRA 2000 were mostly based on national expert estimates (FAO, 2000). Forest inventories covered only part of the productive domain. The information is available for the southern region, approximately 50% of the national territory, and is much obsolete, dating back to the eighties (1984-1988). Not much is known about half of the country’s forest cover of central and northern sides.

The forest inventory in the South was prepared with assistance of Canada and was based on aerial photographs and systematic field sampling. The sample design was based on measurement sites of 1 km2 in which 12 plots (20 m x 250 m) were laid out in parallel strips of about 300 m distance. Along the strips, plots were continuous.

Many small-scale inventories for timber exploitation and forest management were carried out using different methodologies. This makes comparison and use by the forest services rather difficult. For management inventory, sampling is commonly based on 20 m x 250 m successive plots along parallel strips 2 km apart. NGOs are reported to use different designs. For exploitation purpose, the surveys are exhaustive: all trees above certain diameters at breast height are measured.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF), as well as the FAO project TCP/CMR/0066 entitled “Bilan des expériences et modèles d’aménagement pour une gestion durable des forêts” identified the urgent need of an updated and national forest inventory. The necessity of harmonizing inventory methods and country capacity building in planning and implementation of national forest resources assessment was also stressed.

In December 2001, the MINEF requested technical support from FAO to plan and finance a national forest inventory. A Letter of Agreement between FAO and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF) was signed in July 2002, with the main following objectives:

4.3.2 Inventory Design

Cameroon adopted the FAO/FRA National Forest Assessment (nfa) approach. Slight modifications, adaptations and additions were incorporated in the methodology to better serve national needs and specifications.

A systematic and stratified sampling design was adopted. Two strata North/South were defined, based on the Global Ecological Zones Map 2000 (FAO, 2000), and on the Phyto-geographic Map of Cameroon (ICIV, 1985). Two grids with distinct spacing were applied to select the sample locations. Sampling intensity is higher in the southern part of the country, where most of the forest resources are concentrated. Lower sampling intensity was applied in northern and mountainous parts of the country. 236 tracts were selected. The sampling distribution per stratum is given in the figure No. 6. Tract configuration follows FRA/NFA standard approach.

Figure 6. Tract distribution and intensity for the National Forest Inventory in Cameroon


Tract number

Distance between tract location (minutes)

1 (South)


30’ (latitude) X 15’ (longitude)

2 (North)


30’ (latitude) X 30’ (longitude)




The variables inventoried are nearly the same as the ones described in the standard FRA/FAO approach. In order to fulfil national needs and to fit with common national definitions and standards, a few variables were included or options modified, in particular:

4.3.3 Planning

Two FAO missions in the country were organized to assist the national team in the planning of the project.

A first FAO mission in November 2001 aimed at establishing contacts with the national forestry services and define national priorities in the area of forest inventory; taking stock of the institutional set-up and national capacity at central and regional levels to plan and carry out forest surveys; defining a national counterpart with whom FRA would work for the implementation of an eventual national forest inventory project and presenting to, and discussing with national experts, the national forest inventory methodology designed by FRA.

A second FAO mission, in September and October 2002, was carried out to assist MINEF in establishing a technical unit of the project; refine the technical aspects of the project (sampling design, fieldwork organisation, data collection method, variables, budget) and to assist the technical unit in the planning the fieldwork and undertaking the training.

The field manual, the field forms as well as the team composition are ready. The technical unit is preparing a folder for each tract, containing the field forms, the maps of the area and the coordinates of the starting point of the tracts. The work plan for the project was revised several times, due to many delays before starting the field activities mainly caused by heavy administrative procedure.

The members of the technical unit and a national FAO consultant for the project were designated by MINEF. Letters have been also prepared and sent to different ministries and provinces and department delegates to inform them about the nfa activities.

4.3.4 Training

The training was implemented in two phases:

4.3.5 Fieldwork

The field work should start just after the training activities, and depends on approval by the Minister of MINEF of budget for national contribution, field personnel. Field work will be implemented progressively, beginning with the provinces close to Yaoundé.

§ Plans for data entry/processing and management

Data entry and storage: entry of the collected field data will be carried out later this year through an MS Access database application developed by FAO/FRA in Rome. An FAO mission to the country is planned to assist the technical unit in installing the application and train the technicians in the data entry process.

Data analysis and reporting: no analysis of the inventory data has been made so far. Data analysis will be conducted through the FAO/FRA database application and standard reports should be prepared through the same application.

4.4 Conclusions and recommendations

4.4.1 Progress in project implementation of the first phase of the ongoing NFA projects

• Findings:

• Recommendations:

4.4.2 Data-entry and storage

• Findings:

• Recommendations

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