9. Putting a national forest information system in place

Anon. 1995. "Common Principles for National Forestry Planning and Programme Implementation". Forestry Advisers' Group. (available at http://www.gtz.de/forest-policy/download/Documents/National_Forest_Programmes/Forestry_Planning_FAG_95.pdf.)

Key constraints to effective programmes include: weak intersectoral coordination, and problems of policy and institutional reforms within the sector; prevalence of top-down planning and implementation, and over-reliance on the public sector; parallel planning frameworks; weak national capacity for sectoral planning and implementation. Dependence on external sources in forestry financing remains high.. Solving these problems has in turn been constrained by: the insistence of the donor and financing agencies to apply their own priorities, procedures and administrative practices; high-reliance of donors and financing agencies on external technical assistance personnel often leading to high costs and low efficiency of aid, and short-term commitments and shifting priorities. Proposed principles for successful implementation include: policy principles; operational planning and programming principles; principles for international assistance. Policy principles include: �Conflicts of interest between various stakeholders are openly recognised, and resolved as far as possible through public participation and consensus building, based on access to information and transparency of decision making.� Operational planning includes: �Sectoral planning, programming and implementation are perceived as an iterative country-driven process based on information flows between the various levels (national, provincial, district, village/farmer/enterprise) and adequate consultations to exchange information and agree on action.� Institutional reform may be required, and policies and laws adjusted. An investment programme and incentive systems are required. The paper emphasises intersectoral cooperation and coordination. Capacity building should include private sector, NGOs and community groups.

Anon. 2000. Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD): Strategic vision and guiding principles. FAO. (available at ftp://ftp.fao.org/SD/SDR/SDRE/AKIS.pdf.)

The objective of the paper is to set forth a shared vision for an integrated approach to agricultural education, research and extension which would respond to the technology, knowledge and information needs of millions of rural people, helping them reach informed decisions on the better management of their farms, households and communities. An Agricultural Knowledge and Information System for Rural Development links people and institutions to promote mutual learning and generate, share and utilize agriculture-related technology, knowledge and information. The system integrates farmers, agricultural educators, researchers and extensionists to harness knowledge and information from various sources for better farming and improved livelihoods. Rural people also look to knowledge and information systems for guidance on how to bring about general improvements in their livelihoods. New developments in communication and information technologies are making it possible to share information widely, quickly and cheaply. Rapidly increasing numbers of education, research and extension institutions have fax and access to the Internet. This is reducing the isolation of professionals, allowing easier sharing of knowledge. The information technology revolution is starting to expand access for rural people to written and electronic forms of information and communication, including distance-learning systems. There is unequal access: rural areas are less served than urban areas, and rural women in particular have less access to new information and communication technologies. Issues of whether information is a public or a private good and who should pay for what are addressed.

Anon. 2000. Scoping the business case for SDI development. Centre for International Economics. Canberra & Sydney. Centre for International Economics. (available at http://www.gsdi.org/docs2000/capetown/businesscase/scoping.pdf.)

Good example of developing a business case. While the publication is written for a global SDI [Spatial data infrastructure], it is generally applicable to a National or regional scale. Report makes recommendations on what the business case will need to show; the scope and methodology for undertaking the business case; identification of key areas of risk for SDI; and the terms of reference, timetable for completion, and a suggested budget for the business case. �But relatively cheap data collection, manipulation and transmission is only one aspect of the information age. Data will continue to be expensive to turn into information � to organise, interpret and use in real decisions. With more data flying more quickly around the world, its organisation and interpretation will increasingly become a binding constraint. Information (or the ability to do something useful with data), will never be free. All this is true for spatial data. Collecting and organising it, turning it into information and using that information requires real resources and real effort. These resources have alternate uses. People, firms and government agencies will not invest in data for its own sake. They need to be convinced that the enhanced access to data will be of value to them.� Infrastructure includes both the information infrastructure and associated social infrastructure.

Anon. 2001. Architecture description. CGDI Architecture Working Group. Revision: Version 1. December 11, 2001. Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI). (available at http://www.geoconnections.org/architecture/architecture_description.pdf.)

CGDI is a distributed set of data, services and applications. It is an open information technology infrastructure based on publicly available specifications. Characteristics include: enabling universal access to geospatial information; discovery and access of remote online information; integration of disparate information for seamless views; seamless application chaining; updating and exchange capability; wide scale interoperability; effective partnerships. CGDI is driven by key business applications. A key principle is that it is built on existing communications and IT infrastructure. An architecture development strategy is discussed. Architecture is described by specifying the action and interface for each service. Five viewpoints covering a range of issues are explored: enterprise, information, computational and engineering, technology. There are two appendices discussing architecture is based on web services.

Anon. 2002. Exploiting the Innovation Potential of Geomatics: A Geomatics Sector Response to Canada's Innovation Strategy. Geomatics Industry Association of Canada. (available at http://www.innovationstrategy.gc.ca/cmb/innovation.nsf/sectorreports/giac.)

Discusses roles and partnerships of industry, government and academe. Challenges include: Industry structure; Management capabilities; Industry profile; Declining global market share; Implementing Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure; Policy impediments to industry growth, especially unintended negative consequences of public sector policies dealing with access to and use of government data assets. Pricing is high, in contrast to US; Attracting and keeping the best and brightest people; Harmonization of Professional Licensing Standards; Creating a More Supportive Business Environment, and Financing growth. Proposed industry initiatives to meet these challenges are described.

�architecture is a term applied to both the process and the outcome of thinking out and specifying the overall structure, logical components, and the logical interrelationships of a computer, its operating system, a network, or other conception.� Components include input/output, storage, communication, control, and processing.

Anon. 2003. First annual report of the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. Economic and Social Council Report E/2003/56. United Nations. (available at http://www.un.dk/doc/E.2003.0056.pdf.)

�The Task Force provides a global forum on integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) into development programmes and a platform for promoting partnerships of public, private, non-profit, civil society and multilateral stakeholders by helping develop new models of leadership and collaboration to advance significantly the global effort to bridge the digital divide and foster digital opportunity.�

Anon. 2003. Information Design. (available at http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid11_gci214367,00.html.)

Definition: �Information design is the detailed planning of specific information that is to be provided to a particular audience to meet specific objectives. The information designer may or may not have available (or may create) an information architecture that defines the overall pattern or structure that is imposed on the information design and an information plan that defines information units and how they are to be completed. The output of an information design is sometimes expressed in written instructions, plans, sketches, drawings, or formal specifications. However, on very small projects, information design is likely to be much less formal. Information design can distinguished from information architecture and information planning. In one view, there are three hierarchical levels of activity.�

Anon. 2003. NYS Project Management Guidebook. New York State Office for Technology. (available at http://www.oft.state.ny.us/pmmp/guidebook2/.)

Good example of project management.

Anon. 2003. Open Source Initiative home page. Open Source Initiative (OSI). (available at http://www.opensource.org/.)

�The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.�

Beck, H. 2001. Agricultural enterprise information management using object databases, Java, and CORBA. In Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 32, 119-147.

Discusses advantages and disadvantages of using object databases compared with conventional relational database management systems in complex applications in a distributed object computing environment.

Päivinen, R., Iremonger, S., Kapos, V., Landis, E., Mills, R., Petrokofsky, G., Richards, T. and Schuck, A. 1998. Better access to information on forests. International Consultation on Research and Information Systems in Forestry 7-10 September 1998, Ort/Gmunden, Austria. (available at http://iufro.boku.ac.at/iufro/taskforce/tfgfis/icris-gfis.pdf.)

The paper has a good description of the difference between normal web searches and an information system approach.

Roberts, R.W., and G.S. Nagle. 1997. Leadership and Governance in World Forestry: A Discussion Paper. CIDA Forestry Advisers Network. (available at http://www.rcfa-cfan.org/english/issues.10.html.)

Key elements include rapid growth in technologies of resource monitoring, development of new technologies and global information dissemination. Possibilities include improved strategic data and information, and improved global communications. Proposes a new global alliance with a secretariat that includes indigenous forest peoples global information services.

Simula, M., J. Lounasvuori, J. Löytömäki, M. Rytkönen, and I. Oy. 2002. Implications of forest certification for information management systems of forestry organizations. Proc. Forest Information Technology 2002: International Congress and Exhibition. Espoo, September 3-4, 2002. (available at http://www.indufor.fi/documents%26reports/pdf-files/article07.pdf.)

Statistical credibility is not always required to obtain credible evidence to indicate conformity to a set of sustainability requirements. Audits can be based on objective records and on observations taken during the course of the audit. Interviews and discussions are important sources of information. Data and information from different sources must be technically compatible. Example: Information requirements of forest management and wood procurement chain for planning and auditing: the Finnish case. Chain of custody includes paper trail audits, inventory controls, and material flows. Programmable identification devices: depending on accuracy requirement, could be attached to log, bundle, transportation unit, or lot. Could include country, logging site, stump coordinates. PIDs (programmable identification devices) can be equipped with automatic identification and data capture.

US Army. 1998. Engineering and Systems: Geospatial data and systems. In US Army Corps of Engineers. Engineer Manual, 1110-1-2909, (available at http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-manuals/em1110-1-2909/basdoc.pdf.)

Good example of Requirements Analysis.