3. What does the NFA ask?

3.1 Data content and format issues

The eventual usefulness of the NFA interview will depend on how the end users perceive its overall quality. Researchers often determine the quality of data with regards to how the data is gathered, processed and analyzed, but we will start our examination of NFA data quality at a more fundamental level: the selection of variables of interest.

How does the choice of questions influence the quality of the answers? To produce reliable and valid results, it is important to select variables that are measurable through interviews. For example, it would be very nice to know the per capita average of forest-derived calorie intake, but this is a variable that would be very difficult to estimate accurately through interviews.

According to the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment Advisory Committee, there are about twenty different variables that member countries will be asked to report on in the next global FRA in 2005. The NFA includes all of these variables as core measurements in each country. The interview component of the NFA will be able to provide national level measures on several of these parameters. Table 1 lists the core variables that the NFA teams should gather through interviews.

Annex 1 presents a plausible format for the systematic collection of this core NFA data through personal interviews with forest users. Each NFA country team would need to decide on what additional information might be desirable to include apart from the common, core NFA variables. After agreeing on an appropriate format, each team should carry out extensive pretests of the agreed upon interview protocol (see section on Quality Control for suggested pre-tests).

Table 1: Links Between NFA Outputs and Interview Variables

Outputs Relevant Interview Variables
Biodiversity: Human impacts on biodiversity
  • Perceived tendencies of supply and demand for endangered species
  • Services derived from the existence of biodiversity (ecotourism)
Non wood forest products: Food, medicine, crafts, construction
  • List of NWFPs products harvested (occurrence)
  • Perceived tendencies of supply and demand of NWFPs
  • Who harvests the product?
  • Rank, seasonality, changes in extraction, access, rights, etc
Wood products: Annual supply of timber and other woody forest products (such as fuel wood)
  • List of wood products harvested (occurrence)
  • Perceived tendencies of supply and demand of wood
  • Frequency of extraction, rank, seasonality, changes in harvest patterns, etc.
  • Rank, seasonality, changes in extraction, access, rights, etc
Services: Social and poverty alleviation, economic, environmental
  • List of types of existing services derived from trees and forest
  • User perceptions of demand and supply for services
  • Rank
Accessibility: to trees, forest, and markets (distance to forest, hospital, school, roads)
  • Distance to roads, markets, shools, health clinic
  • Distance to area of sample plots
Tenure: User rights to tree and forest products
  • Types of legal user rights to tree and forests