FRA 1990

FRA 1990 covered all developing and industrialized countries and was distinguished by two innovations:

  • the development and use of a computerized "deforestation model" which was applied to the developing country data for projecting the forest area statistics to a common reference year
  • an independent pan-tropical remote-sensing survey of forest change based on high-resolution remote-sensing data.

The "deforestation model" was introduced to eliminate the potential bias of expert opinion in the assessment of forest cover loss, and was partly driven by demographic parameters. The model approach did however result in a relatively high random error in country estimates.

To provide a quality-controlled set of statistics on forest resources and to complement the assessment based on country information, FRA 1990 implemented a remote-sensing survey. The survey relied on statistical sampling (10 %) of the world's tropical forests through 117 sample units located throughout the Pantropical zone. Each sample unit consisted of three multi-date Landsat satellite images which provided the raw material for producing statistics on forest and other land cover changes from 1980 to 1990 and later to 2000. The survey produced estimates of state and change at regional, ecological and pan-tropical levels but not at the national level.



As was the case for FRA 1980, FRA 1990 employed different definitions of forests between developing and industrialized countries. Combined with the absence of information on forest cover change in industrialized countries, the utility of the final global synthesis is limited. FRA 1990's change assessment was limited to change in the area of forest combined with other wooded lands. The assessment covered the parameters of volume, biomass, annual harvesting (tropics) and plantations. Brief summaries were also made on conservation, forest management and biological diversity. The country briefs prominent in FRA 1980 were discontinued.

Major findings

  • Total forest area (global) 1990: 3.4 billion hectares
  • Net forest change (tropical developing countries) 1980-1990: -13.6 million hectares per year
  • Net forest change (global) 1980-1990: -9.9 million hectares per year (forest and other wooded lands combined)

Bibliographic references

FAO 1993. Forest Resources Assessment 1990 - Tropical countries. FAO Forestry Paper No. 112. Rome.

FAO 1994. Forest Resources Assessment 1990 Non-tropical developing countries Mediterranean region. FO:MISC/94/3. Rome

FAO 1995a. Forest resources assessment 1990 - global synthesis. FAO Forestry Paper No. 124. Rome.

FAO 1995b. Forest Resources Assessment 1990 - Tropical forest plantation resources. FAO Forestry Paper No. 128. Rome.

FAO 1995c. Forest Resources Assessment 1990 - Non tropical developing countries. Technical report FO: GCP/INT/474/FRA FO:GCP/INT/475/NET. Rome.

FAO 1996. Forest Resources Assessment 1990 - Survey of tropical forest cover and study of change processess. FAO Forestry Paper No. 130. Rome.
last updated:  Monday, June 23, 2014