Common Information Framework for forest-related reportingIntroduction
National forest-related reporting is requested by several conventions, agreements, intergovernmental agencies and non-legally binding processes. Reporting varies in scope, periodicity, as well as the nature of the information.
The forest-related information reported to these instruments and organizations falls into two broad categories:
- actions taken to implement international commitments; and
- situation and trends in ecological, social and economic aspects of forests.
Information framework is defined here as a set of principles and methods that international bodies can apply to organize and store information. Easy access to information that is organized in a systematic way would help organizations and instruments design information requests, prepare reporting schedules, and use information. Similarly, such access would assist countries to compile and manage information for reporting purposes. Reporting is defined here as official country reports submitted to international bodies, normally conventions or intergovernmental agencies.
The purpose of a common information framework for forest-related reporting is to create an environment for sharing information on forests that minimizes reporting burden and maximizes the reusability of information provided. It is long-term effort to facilitate access to information and its use.
- conformity and cross-references between information requests, including terms and definitions, will increase consistency and comparability of information submitted to various international instruments, organizations and processes;
- better coordination between reporting processes will reduce inconsistencies between reports;
- information can be used for several purposes and across different processes thereby reducing repetitive requests;
- information management and documentation increase transparency and quality in reported information, and make it easier to reuse information, retrieve and verify data for further analyses;
- better information management reduces errors, and improves reporting and provision of trends over time;
- specifying more clearly how the requested information will be used in analyses and reports to help the requesting international body achieve its objectives may increase the usefulness of the reported information, and the motivation to submit reports;
- improved prospects for synchronized information requests;
- enhancement of coordination among focal points.
Forest information is categorized according to seven thematic areas of sustainable forest management (SFM). These areas express key ambitions and challenges for forestry. They are a result of international discussions and agreements following the Earth Summit in Rio 1992, and therefore express a broad consensus of what sustainable forest management aims at.
The thematic areas are based on the criteria of the nine on-going regional/international processes on criteria and indicators for SFM, and were acknowledged by the International Conference on Criteria and Indicators in Guatemala in February 2003 (CICI 2003) and by the FAO Committee on Forestry in 2003. In February 2004, the FAO/ITTO Expert Consultation on Criteria and Indicators recognized that these areas are important for facilitating international communication on forest-related issues.
The seven thematic areas are:
- Extent of forest resources
- Biological diversity
- Forest health and vitality
- Productive functions of forest resources
- Protective functions of forest resources
- Socio-economic functions
- Legal, policy and institutional framework
The seven themes also provide a structure to which forestry information can be organized. Consequently, the CPF information framework on forest-related reporting has adopted the seven themes to categorize information.
For the purpose of the information framework prototype, the following draft descriptions of the seven themes are used:
1. Extent of forest resources
2. Biological diversity
3. Forest health and vitality
4. Productive functions of forest resources
5. Protective functions of forest resources
6. Socio-economic functions
7. Legal, policy and institutional framework