National Forest Monitoring and Assessment - NFMA
The pilot assessment of national forest and tree resources, including their management and use, is an approach that has been developed by FAO's Forestry Department, under the Forest Resources Assessment Programme. A one-year pilot assessment is designed to generate new information at the national level. The assumption is that a moderate investment in systematic forest and forestry information has a great immediate value for many countries. The pilot assessment also forms a basis for decisions related to longer term monitoring of national forest resources.
Specific national information requirements are taken into account in a pilot assessment. Existing information, survey processess and terminology are incorporated, and key parameters for national policy development included.
A base inventory model is applied in each pilot assessment. This is partly to reduce the preparatory work required and to achieve advantages of scale in project implementation. The base model also supports exchange of experiences and information between countries. It consists of inventory design principles related to sampling and field plot establishment, and is based on a set of variables adapted to international reporting requirements.
The inventory phase of the assessment starts from a systematic sample grid covering the entire country. Remote sensing is an important tool for determining an initial land use classification for the sampled sites. Interpretation of aerial photography or satellite images can make the fieldwork more efficient. Where feasible, land use classifications or ecological zoning can be used to stratify and sub-sample the initial grid, to arrive at a higher concentration of fieldwork in critical forest areas.
Inventory information is collected exclusively at the field sample locations. Modern technology, such as the Global Positioning System and Web applications for data input, assist the fieldwork. However, the data are recorded by field crews through measurements at field plots and the involvement of local people, who can provide information on forest management and use.
There are no shortcuts here - data must be recorded on-site and with the help of people who have local knowledge.
An electronic information base is developed as part of a pilot assessment and information collected is incorporated in national forest information services to promote knowledge sharing.