The 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA2015) continues the tradition of seeking to describe the world’s forests – a tradition that began in 1948. FRA 2015 development began in June 2011 as the FRA Advisory Group discussed the FRA Long-Term Strategy and the implications for FRA 2015. The design process has involved users, national correspondents and experts from a wide variety of technical backgrounds. Countries representing some 75% of the world’s forest area contributed to constructing FRA 2015 content. Ultimately data are reported for 234 countries and territories, of which 155 reports come from countries themselves - countries that contain 98.8 percent of the world’s forests. The remaining 79 countries and territories (covering only 1.2 percent of the world's forest) were reported as desk studies prepared by FAO. FRA 2015 contains some 120 variables covering the period 1990-2015.
FRA 2015 seeks to continue finding ways to improve the quality, relevance and accessibility of data and analysis. For the first time, a strategic communications plan was prepared based on a broad-based user survey that seeks both input from previous FRA users as well as an understanding of why non-users have not used the FRA. Capacity building plans are underway to ensure that opportunities are provided to interested countries to incorporate remote sensing into country reporting and to extend the value of hard work done by National Correspondents by helping them reach a broader domestic audience. Remote sensing was used in FRA 2015 - primarily in assessing fire affected areas and estimating the area where forest canopy cover has been reduced.
Finally, FRA 2015 has been organized to help reduce the forest-related reporting burden countries face. This includes the approach of updating the FRA 2010 country reports rather than starting with blank templates, pre-filling of data for countries and eliminating some of the more difficult variables. It also introduced the new Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire (CFRQ). The CFRQ was built with the premise that data should be collected once and used many times. These data have been shared among the data collection partners so that countries do not need to report the same numbers more than once – and the partners all use the same data in analyses and reporting.