Reliable information is one of the foundations of sustainable forest management. FAO's work on data collection and analysis aims to help countries to collect, analyse and present forestry information in a way that is most useful for forest managers and policymakers.


The need for reliable information about the forestry sector. Improved information about the forestry sector meets a wide range of market and policy driven needs. Based on the frequent enquiries FAO receives, information is used by many different types of institutions, including: governments; the private-sector; NGOs; and international agencies (such as the FAO itself) and many aspects of their work depend on the quality of this information.

Broadly speaking, forestry information is used in three main areas:

  • National policy development and planning: reliable information is necessary to identify, plan and implement national forestry programmes so that the full potential of the sector to produce economic, social and environmental benefits can be realised;

  • International policy development and negotiations: forestry information that is reliable and comparable across countries is important for the development and monitoring of international agreements on trade and the environment; and

  • Investment planning: Information about forest resources and forest products markets is used for investment and strategic planning, project appraisal and market development studies.
Meeting these needs with improved information is important for the sustainable development of the forestry sector.

Data collection and analysis at FAO. A major role given to the FAO when it was first established, was to compile, analyse and disseminate information on all aspects of agriculture (including forestry) and rural development at a global level. Most of the statistics and information currently compiled by FAO are supplied by governments and nearly every staff member works in this area with countries on a regular or ad-hoc basis.

Most of the forestry information currently compiled by FAO falls broadly into two areas:

  • forest product information: including information and statistics on the production (including capacity), consumption, trade and utilisation of forest products; and

  • forest resource information: including information and statistics on the area, stocking, growth, condition and type of forest resources in countries.
In addition to this, FAO also compiles a wide range of other miscellaneous forestry information about biological and technical parameters, policy and institutional developments and social, economic and environmental factors related to the forestry sector.

The contents of these webpages. The FAO Forestry Department regularly reviews and examines the type and quality of information compiled within the Department and by other organisations, in order to identify emerging needs and priorities for future development of databases. FAO also works with countries to build their capacity to collect, analyse and present forestry information and to avoid duplication of efforts and discrepancies between different sources. These webpages present the results of a number of projects implemented with countries to improve their forestry information.

last updated:  Monday, October 31, 2011