2.3 Components of the NFA organization

In this section, we elaborate on what structural components are important within an NFA organization. As has previously been discussed, we assume that the NFA organization be responsible for strategic forestry and land-use planning at the national and sub-national level. Moreover, we assume that the data acquisition and analysis activities be carried out by the same organization.

Depending on resources available, the organization may either be a single integrated entity or it may be larger and split on different units. In the latter case, there are different options available for the division into units. Our proposal below should be seen as one among many different options:
  • Unit responsible for data acquisition. Field staff may be hired on a permanent basis, being responsible for other issues within the organization between the field campaigns. Alternatively, field staff is hired only for the actual field data collection. Another possibility is to assign the entire field data collection to contractors (although this may increase the risk for varying data quality between years). However, in all cases there is a need for a permanent core unit responsible for the planning of the data acquisition. This unit typically would be responsible for hiring field staff, acquiring materials, planning the field campaign, conducting check assessments, and evaluating and enhancing the data acquisition part of the NFA. In case the NFA comprises both remote sensing and field data collection, it may be advisable to make a separation between these, due to the different skills needed. Interview based data collection requires special competence both in data collection and analysis. It can be organised in different ways, but it is advised that specialists are included in the organisation both centrally and in each field team.

  • Unit responsible for analyses. Although personnel in this unit ideally also would be involved in the data collection to gain insight into issues related to data quality, their main responsibility would be various kinds of analyses based on data as well as dissemination of results. This unit will need to maintain a close communication with stakeholders to be able to respond to external needs.

  • Technical unit. Core people in this unit would be computer specialists that work in close cooperation with people from the other units. In many cases, resources will be too limited to allow for a separate unit of this kind. In such cases, some computer specialists within a research institute or a similar organization may be given special responsibility for issues related to the NFA.
  • In allocating resources to different units, a common mistake is to allocate a too small share of the resources to analyses and dissemination of results. The work needed for this is difficult to foresee in the planning phase, and often the judgments regarding the work needed are too optimistic.

    For more details see Need of an analysis unit