Global Forest Resources Assessment
At the first session of the Conference of FAO in the autumn of 1945, the need for up-to-date information on the forest resources of the world was recognized. In May 1946 the Forestry and Forest Products Division was founded and work was initiated on FAO's first worldwide assessment of forests. The sixth session of the FAO Conference in 1951 recommended that the Organization maintain a permanent capability to provide information on the state of forest resources worldwide on a continuing basis. Since that time, various other regional and global surveys have been conducted every five to ten years. Each has taken a somewhat different form.
As knowledge on the forest resources has improved at national levels and as technology has advanced, the Global Forest Resources Assessment have increased in breadth and quality.
Statistics released by FAO on world forest cover from 1948 through 1963 were largely collected through questionnaires sent to the countries. The assessments since 1980 have taken a more solid technical form, being based on the analysis of country references supported by expert judgements, remote sensing and statistical modelling. FRA 2000 is to date the most comprehensive in terms of the number of references used and information analysed on forest cover, forest state, forest services and non-wood forest products (NWFP). FRA 2000 is also notable for applying for the first time a single technical definition of forest at the global level, based on 10 percent crown cover.
Statistics from the different assessments are difficult to use for comparative purposes, owing to changes in baseline information, methods and definitions. However, better correlations can be achieved for time series in many countries for certain assessments, especially with information generated since 1980, when reporting parameters stabilized. Consistent definitions were applied for developing countries for subsequent assessments.
The assessments undertaken by FAO are briefly described in the following.