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Working Group 1: Forest and Change Processes


Our group considered options for harmonizing definitions of forests in relation to other land classes which have been developed under three distinct processes:

Each has different purposes and as a consequence each has defined forests differently.

The FRA and CBD definitions of forest include a predominant land use component. Lands where non forestry uses predominate are not classified as forest even where tree cover exceeds the threshold values of the other parameters. The UNFCCC/KP does not make this distinction.

See Figure.

There is a need to clarify the clause in FRA definition below:

"Predominantly forestry" within the FRA refers to forests that are used for purposes of production, protection, multiple use or conservation (i.e. forest in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas), as well as forest stands on agricultural lands (that is, windbreaks and shelterbelts of trees with a width of more than 20m), and rubberwood plantations and cork oak stands. It excludes stands of trees established explicitly for agricultural production and agroforestry systems.)

Summary of Options: Forestry Definitions

Comment Working Group 1: New Version

4.1.5 (page 10)


Threshold values for stand characteristics used by UNFCCC are fixed. However, under GPG a case could be made for countries to voluntarily adopt the FRA definitions as also applied by CBD.

Suggest Alternative Wording:

(1) Threshold parameters for defining forest under UNFCCC/KP are flexible within a fixed range. Reporting burden may be reduced where countries adopt the same threshold parameters for UNFCCC/KP and FRA reporting. However, there may be practical reasons for countries adopting different threshold values.

Ex 3. Consider including `temporarily unstocked areas' in the CBD definition of forest to make it essentially the same as the FRA definition. Alternatively, make the CBD definition comparable with the FRA definition, by distinguishing `temporarily unstocked areas' as a separate class of forest in FRA.

(2) Request the CBD clarify whether definition of "temporarily unstocked" as used by FRA is intentionally excluded in their definition.

The UNFCCC/KP rules require parties to provide information on how they distinguish temporarily unstocked forests from deforestation. This is compatible with the FRA 10 year limit.

Ex. 2 Assess the need to add a qualifier for the term `temporary' in the UNFCCC and CBD definitions of forest.

(3) See recommendation new (2) above.

Assess the need and justification for creating a sub-class of non-forest under FRA, `degraded former forest land' to make it consistent with ITTO definition.

(4) Awaiting information from group 2.

Assess the feasibility of incorporating social considerations in the definitions of forest vs. addressing these under such comprehensive frameworks as Criteria & Indicators for SFM.

(5) The group agreed that it was not appropriate to further incorporate social considerations into definitions of forest but should be included in further characterisation of forest. Instead this should be explored through mechanisms such as frameworks for criteria & indicators for SFM.

FRA already collects data on forest plantations and categorises plantations managed for fibre production, protection etc, as forest, but plantations managed for tree crops as non forests. UNFCCC/KP defines all plantations (including afforestation and reforestation) as forest.

New recommendation

The CBD is recommended to consider the inclusion of plantations as separate category(ies) of forest, so that changes in biodiversity associated with the transformation of other forests to plantations can be monitored.

4.2.3 (page 13)


(1) Assess whether UNFCCC/KP terms `forested land' and `forest land' can be considered synonymous with `forest' and, if so, which term(s) should be used in the future.

The group understood that in the context of UNFCCC/KP the terms `forested land' and `forest land' are synonymous with `forest'.

(2) Clarify the method of classifying lands with a combined land use under the UNFCCC definitions and assess whether the UNFCCC approach can be aligned with the FRA classification by e.g. dividing the FRA land class `other land' into sub-classes.

To be drafted later. The IPCC Good Practice process and subsequent discussions in SBSTA/COP will clarify the UNFCCC/KP approach.

4.4.5 (page 19)


(1) Expand the FRA definition of afforestation to include assisted regeneration not involving direct seeding or planting.

The group endorses the recommendation as it makes the definition more inclusive of desirable outcomes.

(2) Drop the requirement for a 50-year non-forest condition for afforestation in the UNFCCC definition to be applied from the second commitment period onwards

The group endorses the recommendation. In some countries, records are insufficient to discriminate between the alternatives and the treatment of afforestation and reforestation is equivalent within the UNFCCC/KP.

The group is considering a broader suggestion on harmonizing the terms afforestation and deforestation in future drafting of UNFCCC/KP documents with FRA definitions.

(3) Consider harmonizing the treatment of young forests in the FRA and UNFCCC definitions of afforestation

No action required. The group recognised that there is no substantive difference between the definitions, and that attempts to change the definitions will cause confusion.

(4) Consider adding a definition of natural expansion of forest in the ITTO set of definitions that is compatible with the other existing definitions

ITTO needs to address the issue of compatibility with other existing definitions.

(5) Consider developing the ITTO definitions by including a reference to an established definition of `forest', and making minor adjustments to increase compatibility with FRA and UNFCCC definitions

The group recommends that ITTO reference an established definition of forests and make the necessary adjustments to increase compatibility with FRA, UNFCCC/KP and CBD definitions.

(6) Differentiate direct human-induced deforestation and permanent forest loss due to other causes in the FRA definition of deforestation

The group concluded that permanent forest loss is rarely a natural occurrence. The definitions of deforestation are specific to the purposes of the two processes; however compatibility can never be achieved because the FRA and UNFCCC/KP definitions of forest are different. See discussion below.


Under the FRA definition of forest it is possible for an area to be reported as forest expansion, afforestation or deforestation as a result of changes in land use, even though there is no immediate change in tree cover. As a result change figures reported by the two processes are not likely to be comparable.

Working Group 2: Change Processes Within Forest

Working Group 3: Forest Management and Forest Condition

LOGBOOK 1 - First Session 9/11/02

Introductory comments


How to approach our task


- is degradation a topic here? Yes, due to various reasons

- envision three dimensional framework with management, naturalness and degradation as axes

- second working group may already be discussing this

- managed versus unmanaged - ideas regarding decision making, planning measures, managing for what (i.e. for watershed, biodiversity, forest products, area management, planning)

- legal aspect: in some areas need legal status to define a managed area

- if no approved plan, then is "unmanaged"

- do not invent new terms!

Begin: Term by Term

Discuss the management terms first: Natural Forest, Undisturbed Forest, Primary Forest, Old Growth Forest, Secondary Forest, Semi-Natural Forest, Degraded Forest, Forest Plantation


1. Natural Forest: page 30, 39, 40

Discussion Issues

Discussion Points

Is it a natural forest if a mid-succession stage is maintained? For example: Is a climax beech forest but maintain the oak? Does this differ from a man-made (plantation) versus natural?

Most general definition: "indigenous trees not planted by man" page 30

Need a reason for the definition first

Why is definition of natural needed?

Should we keep the idea of semi-natural?

Native forest versus natural forest: differentiates between native species or not

Natural: to include indigenous species plus natural processes of regeneration dominate

Don't lose track of objective

2. Forest Plantation

Discussion Issues

Discussion Points


- Distinguish between planted forests versus plantations

- Plantation: connotes structure (e.g. even aged, even spacing, 1 - 2 species per FAO);

- is a subset of planted forests

- "Management intent": should it be included?

- is plantation just for wood production? Or also for watershed protection?

- is it worth reporting? Hard to determine

- plantations may have several good functions: e.g. planting for land stabilization vs. sliding, downstream community protection; could be introduced species

- similarly: plantations for dune stabilization;

- But: primary intent is not wood production, so would not fall under FAO

- Better: leave management intent as a subset of plantation

- "Secondary Forest" concept needed? (in UNEP definition)

- but this definition is different from how used elsewhere

- little value added

- Suggest: CBD adopt FAO definition

- FRA has gaps

- FAO includes afforestation and reforestation, which are loaded terms - but aren't all plantations either afforestation or reforestation anyway?

3. Semi-Natural Forest


- "Semi-natural" - is included again in FAO

- Do we really need to retain this term?

- Natural: indigenous, natural processes of regeneration, even if with human intervention

- Forget about semi-natural

- But: old plantations take on characteristics of natural over time, so need to keep the intermediate category. For example France: keeps 40 yrs as definition of plantation, after that is considered "semi-natural"

- Problem: the term semi-natural becomes a catchall - only Great Britain and France use it consistently. Problematic when used globally

- FRA: uses semi-natural within natural - but only sometimes....need another word?

- Age class system of categorizing is diminishing

- Clearcutting is phasing out in Europe, so don't get age class system anymore

- Boreal systems: is natural regeneration through fire - so clearcutting would mimic the fire process

- Keep semi-natural to imply human intervention?

Hierarchy Options

- Discussion: Re: "secondary forest" concept (according to CBD)? - probably not at this point; can leave out here and it reads the same way

- *So, leave out word "secondary" in CBD? Stay with the FAO plantation

- Enrichment?

- "Natural" still retains natural regeneration at core


(But: this is yet another definition)

- Land use aspects: If clearcut for agriculture, versus for wood production, and the forest comes back naturally, is it a "natural secondary forest"?

- secondary forest is clearly a natural forest


Page 39- 41 - Primary, Undisturbed, Old Growth, Secondary, Degraded Primary

See: Figure 3 Blaser paper- largely appropriate structure

But - need separate evaluation of fire adapted systems. Fire not always a negative impact. Definitions need to address issue of forest condition when the natural fire regime is suppressed. Fuel build-up, excess stems per acre lead to "unnatural" conditions

Return to page 39:

1. Old Growth:

- where is it used in international conventions? Is it useful to CBD? No requirement to report at this time
- has political implications
- has biodiversity connotations
- is a specific successional state; other successional states also have value
- is it included within Primary?
- is it needed as specific class if only calls out certain characteristics, and alone does not sustain the ecosystem
- is it needed as a subset?
- there are some very good definitions that exist

2. "Primary versus Secondary"

- What about "Managed Primary"? (no)

- if primary = undisturbed by man, then there's not much of it

See: ITTO definitions - Blaser Table 1 as relevant to tropical forests

If we have a definition of "primary" forest, do we need a separate definition for "natural" forest?

- time dimension of 60 years?
- FRA page 39 "natural undisturbed by man" is equivalent for primary and old growth?
- Traditional lifestyles
- Don't need distinction between undisturbed and primary



Use three dimensions to assess these definitions: naturalness, management, and degradation

1. Natural, semi-natural and plantation terms

- Natural versus planted forests
- Preferred definitions of each:
- FRA: for "natural forests" with some modifications (bring text)

Planted forest definitions of ITTO

These are largely compatible

2. Still need the concept of ¨semi-natural" forest

- Concept of naturalness is related to regeneration

- Within planted forests: allow for semi-natural versus more intensively managed plantation

3. Dealt with primary, undisturbed - essentially equivalent

4. Old growth: See as subset of primary but needs more thinking as to what level to consider - in some counties is important and should not be lost, even if hard to apply


LOGBOOK 2 - September 12, 2002

1. Review proposed Framework - structure for management terms starting with natural versus planted

2. Review: Definitions related to degraded forests versus secondary - page 41

Discussion Issues

Discussion Points


- Box 4.5 (p. 19): CBD suggests if regeneration after large natural fire - is not degraded; versus forest that has been logged
- Also not valid: p 40 CBD "Secondary forest logged and recovered naturally or artificially"
- Secondary forest more used in tropical context
- Suggest: CBD use existing definitions elsewhere for Secondary, not invent new one
- semi-natural concept may be more useful
- Example of cleared for agriculture, abandoned, then forest recovered = Secondary
- And: Existing forest, logged, then regenerates to same type = Case A

Existing, logged, then regenerates to different type = Case B

- CBD developed the definition to relate to biodiversity, but could be substituted for a better definition
- Q: In ITTO Secondary definition: Woody vegetation "re-growing"on land... - Implies natural, not artificial. Would be a "planted" forest
- Aerial seeding with native seeds = still is Natural Forest in Australia - but is grey zone?
- Q: Can "regrowing" be enhanced by human activities
- is distinction bet management versus restoration of degraded forest
- in Secondary, do intervene - example balsa: work towards goal of maintaining it - but do not plant. - Use natural regeneration capacity of the vegetation


"Secondary forest = woody vegetation regenerated naturally on land that was totally (or at least 90%) cleared of its original forest vegetation< BR > - why not delete "totally"

Primary + secondary = natural

Versus Managed

- Not sure how UNEP 2001 fits with p. 54 January definition: did it change? Different generations of 2001 work?
- e.g. logged versus widely disturbed
- Q: does secondary forest derive only from primary forest? What about former plantation moving to secondary? Is there a time dimension?
- A: no, derives from any type of forest
- Secondary is predominantly used and appropriate in tropical context; time not important. Species composition is key.
- "regrowth forests" used in boreal
- Secondary tends to be even aged

See ITTO: Table 1: Major differences between the three major categories of degraded and secondary forests

3. Visit terms related to MANAGED FORESTS vs. UNMANAGED: p. 23 in Draft Analytical Framework

See: Table 4.3 of parameters (this topic more developed in draft analytical framework than others)

Box 4.6: Different viewpoints:

ITTO takes Primary first, then defines Mgmt of other services like wildlife -

If Primary vs. Managed: always have change in structure

4. Consider now: UNMANAGED term

- Do we need a definition of unmanaged? It makes no sense. There is nothing left that is "unmanaged" - decisions are made for almost all areas of globe -

- Area with no management = only remote areas of boreal Russia or Canada left

- Adding term "sustainable" just adds a "straight jacket" - can never agree on a definition

- Obligations for this term come from context of carbon: There were attempts to define categories of management, but was abandoned, and this was final compromise. One of countries wanting an Unmanaged term was related to problem of fires - didn't want to be responsible for that impact

- Is it possible to change UNFCCC to deal with sustainable term? How and when to assess sustainability?

Challenge: formulating and formalizing relationships across categories

-e.g. is all planted forest managed?

5. Still struggling with "Managed Forests"

Proposal: Are all planted forests Managed Forests?

Review ITTO graphic Figure 3 re Formation of Forest types

- Management refers to some series of activities

- Is timber extraction a managed forest? May be unsustainable or not

Issue: UNFCCC concepts

- supposed to be a neutral objective

- Good Practice Guidance needs to show how to implement in practice

- Countries will need to determine individually if practices are sustainable in their own terms

- Here we could ID issues left for resolution


Nested concept

Scheme 1

-Managed versus Unmanaged = Intervention versus Non intervention

Managed with plan vs. without plan

Managed only for wood versus other environmental services

Another scheme:

Intervention (= Management?) = Suite of Practices?

Still the fundamental issue of the Planning dimension - does taking a decision mean it is managed?; and, do you need to have a person as a manager?

Kyoto context:

"Forest land management is parallel to crop land management is parallel to grazing land management"

But: there is issue that "Forest Land" (as a legal designation) is not necessarily = "Forested Land" (relating to tree cover) -

So, we abandoned this path

Back to Options, pg. 24

-can management include non-intervention or not

Still stuck on fundamental issue

Keenan Scheme: See easel graphic "Proposal 1"

Buchwald Scheme: See easel graphic "Proposal 2"

How does FAO FRA deal with issue of "Management"?

Peter Holmgren's comments:

More useful construct: What is the management objective?

-then, What kind of plan is it, esp. in terms of wood production? Formal versus informal plan; approved or not approved by some authority; written by RPF vs. small landowner plan in his head; - varies by locality. Existence of plan is critical

-then, FRA wants to use the Criteria to subdivide:

e.g. How much is managed for protective functions, production functions, and social functions

And what is the trend over time?

And is it sustainably managed or not?

Illegal logging then is "management" - but not good management; not consistent

Consider Reporting feasibility:

-Make use of 50-80 years of existing data

Proposal: Recommend a new definition for the FRA that is reasonably consistent with UNFCCC (Keenan suggestion)


Forest management is the process of evaluating options, deciding, and implementing practices for {stewardship and <-- in Kyoto} use of forest aimed at fulfilling {relevant - in Kyoto} ecological, economic and social functions of the forest.

For example, this can include production of wood and non-wood forest products, biodiversity conservation, soil conservation or watershed protection.

{ Management can be controlled and undertaken in accordance with an agreed code of practice or certification process, or uncontrolled where the continued flow of goods and services may not be sustained.}


- eliminate second paragraph

- or expand to include more exhaustive list

- Insert: "the process for evaluating options",

- FRA: includes unsustainable management

- UNFCCC: does not include " "

- Message: Management is controlled or uncontrolled

- Watershed protection versus protective?

- {} - include or not

- Is it possible to determine if management is sustainable or not when doing reporting?

- Add in "goods and services"

- Montreal, Pan European, ITTO versions.... FAO didn't have one

Another Proposal: ITTO version - Relevant to Tropical Forests

Definition of Managed Forests

- Managed Forests: Land subject to forest management (UNFCCC 2001)

- Forest management is the process of considering options, deciding and implementing practices for stewardship and multiple use of forest aimed at fulfilling relevant ecological, economic and social functions of the forest.

- Forest Management:

Forest management is the process of managing forest to achieve one or more clearly specified objectives with regard to the production of a continuous flow of desired forest goods and services.

We need to harmonize our own proposals: basic goal is to define the Area of management

Summary Comments:

- We still disagree on the issue of whether or not "Managed versus Unmanaged" is a useful concept

- Peter's approach: Managed or not is no longer a very useful concept:

- Essentially, all forests now left in world have had some sort of a management decision made about them

- But the concept of "Managed vs. Unmanaged" is ingrained and has strong defenders

- Need 3 classes

1) Unmanaged, undisturbed by man

2) Sustainably managed - monitoring component may be important

3) Disturbed by humans, but cannot say if is sustainably managed or not

- Need the concept of Planning Actions

Issues raised by Other Workgroups

1. Plantations-Plantations are forests - yes or no

2. Degraded Forest

- Degraded forests don't exist - yes or no - since elastic capacity of forest ecosystem has been altered cannot restore original condition/regenerate to

- Term of "degradation" denotes process, but is not very useful for forest, they are a continuum (undisturbed, modified etc)

ITTO Box B pg. 40: Degraded primary forest refers to a specific situation with reference

- Replacement of endemic species is an indicator of degradation


1. Managed Forests are lands subject to forest management. Globally, nearly all forests have been subject to some form of human decision-making with regard to their management.

2. We generally support this definition which is slightly modified from UNFCCC (2001):

"Forest management is the process of planning and implementing practices for stewardship and use of the forest aimed at fulfilling relevant ecological, economic and social functions of the forest.

(Add from ITTO): For example, this can include production of wood and non-wood forest products, biodiversity conservation, soil conservation or watershed protection."

-Also include? Does this clarify?:

"Planning involves identifying goals and objectives, evaluating options, and deciding etc...

"Management can be sustainable or unsustainable. Ideally, all forests should be managed sustainably. Management can be controlled and undertaken in accordance with an agreed code of practice or certification process, or uncontrolled where the continued flow of goods and services may not be sustained."

3. The word Sustainable should be added to the UNFCCC definition of Forest Management if UNFCC does not change their definition to conform to Recommendation #2

4. FRA should develop a typology for Management Objectives as a basis for reporting on the status of areas under different kinds of forest management

5. FRA should consider adopting Recommendation #2 definition


Box 1: Categories of Forests in the Tropics28


(virgin forest, old-growth forest, closed forest, pristine forest)

Forest which has never been subject to human disturbance, or has been so little affected by hunting, gathering and tree cutting that its natural structure, functions and dynamics have not undergone any changes that exceed the elastic capacity of the ecosystem.


Primary forests managed or exploited for wood and/or non-wood forest products, for wildlife or other purposes. The more intensive the use, the more the structure and composition is altered from that of the primary forests. Ecologically, the change often represents a change to an earlier successional stage. Two major categories can be distinguished:


Primary forest in which sustainable wood and non-wood harvesting (e.g. through integrated harvesting and silvicultural treatments), wildlife management and other uses have resulted in changes of forest structure and species composition. All major goods and service functions are maintained intact.


A generic term comprising all those forests or forest lands that have been altered beyond the normal effects of natural processes through unsustainable use through human activities or natural disasters such as fire, landslides, etc. Three different conditions can be distinguished:


The initial forest structure, productivity and species diversity of the primary forest has been affected by excessive and wood extraction and/or by such an intensity of harvesting of non-wood forest products that its capacity to provide goods and services has been impaired.


Woody vegetation spontaneously regrowing on land that was largely cleared of its original forest vegetation.


Former forest land severely damaged by excessive harvesting of wood and/or non-wood forest products, poor management, repeated fire, grazing or other disturbances and land uses that damage soil and vegetation to a degree which inhibits or severely delays forest re-growth after abandonment.


A forest stand that has been artificially established by planting or seeding:

      • Afforestation: establishment of a planted forest on non-forested land.

      • Reforestation: re-establishment of trees and understorey plants at a site immediately after removal of natural forest cover.

      • Enrichment planting (assisted regeneration, complementary regeneration): planting of desired tree species in a modified natural forest or secondary forest or woodland with the objective of creating a high-forest dominated by the desired species, often local and/or of high-value.

Table 1: Major differences between the three major categories of degraded and secondary forests


Degraded primary forest

Secondary forest

Degraded forest land

Intensity of disturbance

- Slight to moderate intensity within a range of common natural disturbances

- Severe intensity, caused by the clearing of at least 90% of the original forest cover

- Drastic and repeated intensity with complete removal of the forest stand, loss of topsoil, and change in microclimate

Common causes of disturbance (human-induced or natural)

- Excessive wood exploitation,

- Over-harvesting of NWFP

- Destructive natural disturbances such as forest fires, storms

- Over-Grazing

- Clear-cutting, burning and subsequent abandonment of area

- Catastrophic large-scale natural disturbances: fire, flooding, storms, landslides.

- Repeated over-use, repeated fire, grazing, or ecological mismanagement on fragile soils

- Soil erosion

Vegetation development process

- Relatively small changes in processes, growth and regeneration dynamics except where over-grazing prevents natural regeneration

- Relic trees are often damaged (crown, stem), or are potential "losers" unable to achieve dynamic regrowth or are phenotypically inferior

- Recovery mainly through autogenous and spontaneous cycle replacement regeneration, usually complemented by coppice and seed bank

- Species composition change with over- exploitation of timber

- Successional changes are limited to more intensively affected areas

- A sequence of successional changes takes place after the perturbation. In this process several phases or stages with specific floristic, structural and dynamic characteristics can be distinguished. Plant species composition changes in dominance gradually from early to late successional species

- Start of a highly dynamic growth process, with high rates of carbon assimilation and biomass aggregation

- There is only very sluggish successional development after the cessation of the main disturbance.

- The process generally leads directly from forest cover to grassland or bushland, or, in extreme cases, to barren soil surface.


- Forest structure not significantly damaged

- In forests subject of over-grazing, poor understorey development and absence of young age classes of the canopy species

- Light-demanding species regenerating after the disturbance are usually similar to those in the original forest stand

- Regrowing forest differs in species composition and in physiognomy from primary forest. Species are highly light demanding

- Forest vegetation is lacking; single or small groups of pioneer trees and shrubs may or may not occur



Primary forest


A forest that has never been directly disturbed by humans and has developed following natural disturbance and under natural processes, regardless of its age. The term includes forests used inconsequentially by indigenous and local communities living traditional lifestyles. ["Direct human disturbance" means the intentional clearing of forest by any means (including fire) to manage or alter the forest for human use].

FAO 1998

Natural forest undisturbed by man - Forest which shows natural forest dynamics such as natural species composition, occurrence of dead wood, natural age structure and natural regeneration processes, the area of which is large enough to maintain its natural characteristics and where there has been no known human intervention or where the last significant human intervention was long enough ago to have allowed the natural species composition and processes to have become re-established.

Old-growth forest

US Forest Service

Is an ecosystem distinguished by old trees and related structural attributes? Old-growth encompasses the later stages of stand development that typically differ from earlier stages in a variety of characteristics, which may include tree size, accumulations of dead woody material, the number of canopy layers, species composition, and ecosystem function. Old-growth is not necessarily synonymous with virgin or primeval, and could develop following human disturbance.


Is a primary or a secondary forest which has achieved an age at which structures and species normally associated with old primary forests of that type have sufficiently accumulated to act as a forest ecosystem distinct from any younger age class?

Degraded (primary) forest


A secondary forest which has permanently lost, or is unlikely to regain, the structure, function, species composition, or productivity normally associated with a natural forest type expected on that site. Hence a degraded forest delivers a reduced supply of goods and services from the given site and maintains only limited biological diversity.

FAO 1998

Natural forest disturbed by man - Includes (i) logged-over forests associated with various intensity of logging, (ii) various forms of secondary forest, resulting from logging or abandoned cultivation.

Secondary forest


A forest that has been directly disturbed by humans and has recovered naturally or artificially.

Chokkalingam & de Jong 2001

Forests regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human and/or natural disturbance of the original forest vegetation at a single point in time or over an extended period, and displaying a major change in forest structure and canopy species composition.

Degraded forest land

Brown & Lugo 1994

Lands are described as degraded when their edaphic conditions and/or biotic richness have been reduced by human activity to such a degree that their ability to satisfy particular uses has declined.

Forest degradation

FAO 2000

A reduction of the canopy cover or stocking within the forest through logging, fire, windfelling or other events, provided that the canopy cover stays above 10%. In a more general sense, forest degradation is the long-term reduction of the overall potential supply of benefits from the forest, which includes wood, biodiversity and any other product or service.



A degraded forest is a secondary forest that has lost, through human activities, the structure, function, species composition or productivity normally associated with a natural forest type expected on that site. Hence, a degraded forest delivers a reduced supply of goods and services from the given site and maintains only limited biological diversity.

Lamb 2001

A loss of forest structure, productivity, and native species diversity. A degraded site might still contain trees (i.e., a degraded site is not necessarily deforested) but it has lost at least some of its former ecological integrity.


FAO 2000

The conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of tree canopy cover below the 10% threshold.

FCCC 2001

The direct human-induced conversion of forested land to non-forested land.


FAO 2000


SBSTTA 2001)

The re-establishment of forests after a temporary (<10years) condition with less than 10% canopy cover due to human-induced or natural perturbations.

FCCC 2001

The direct human-induced conversion of non-forested land to forested land through planting, seedling and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources, on land that was forested but that has been converted top non-forested land.

Lamb 2001

The reestablishment of trees and understory plants at a site previously occupied by forest cover.


FAO 2000


The conversion from other land uses into forest, or the increase of the canopy cover to above the 10% threshold.

FCCC 2001

The direct human-induced conversion of land that has not been forested for a period of at least 50 years to forest land through planting, seeding and/or the human-induced promotion of natural seed sources.

Forest improvement

FAO 2000

The increase of the canopy cover or stocking (FAO 2001) of the forest through growth. In a more general sense (cf. forest degradation) forest improvement is the long-term increase of the overall potential supply of benefits from the forest, which includes wood, biodiversity and any other product or service.

Working Group 4: Forest Classification and the International Process

There is a great variety of forests worldwide. To study, assess or manage them many classifications have been, or continue to be developed. They depend on the objectives and geographic levels (from global to local) of the study/assessment/management of forests and on the tools being used (e.g. remote sensing).

With regard to the ongoing international processes two main issues related to forest classification are identified:

It is recognised that for the sake of reporting consistency among countries and over time, and to facilitate data compilation, there should be one global definition for each core term (with the possible exception of degradation; see also footnote 3), but countries are/should be free to report on more disaggregated levels. It is also recognised that different processes may need, in addition to the global definition, qualifiers to describe aspects specific to their objectives. In choosing classification systems and definitions the feasibility for countries to collect and analyse the data required should be taken into account.

Re. 1: the third column of the matrix shows there is no need for differentiation of the definitions of the core terms by forest class for the various processes, with the possible exception of the term degradation (see footnote 3 in the matrix).

Re. 2: currently some of the international processes use forest classification systems in their work. In the forth column it is indicated that there is scope for all processes to use forest classifications. Conclusions and recommendations on the general use of forest classifications by the international processes (as distinct from the specific use for differentiation of definitions) are:



Objective (see also table 3.1)

Do these processes need differentiated definitions per forest class, incl. thresholds?a

Do these processes need forest classification systems?30


stock-taking and estimate goods and services from forests (economic, social and environmental).




combating land degradation




conserve biodiversity32

N? 33



mitigate and adapt to climate change (more than just carbon stocks)




sustainable forest management




promotion of research on forests and trees and exchange of information



a For instance: the minimum crown cover for tropical rainforest is X% and for boreal coniferous forest Y%.

Two additional more specific recommendations were identified.

Follow-up steps

Suggestions to the organizers in preparing their report

Working Group 5: Forest Definitions - Special needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover and unique types of forest (LFCCs)38

• General forest definitions agreed upon as applicable to all countries and types of forest will also apply to LFCCs. For example, FAO definitions applied in FRA would apply equally to LFCCs

• Trees outside forests (TOF) play a large and significant role in LFCCs. Therefore special attention should be given to the inclusion of TOF in national forest assessments in LFCCs. Failing to do so would give a wrong picture of the importance of woody vegetation in terms of energy, biological diversity, carbon sequestration, contribution to sustainable livelihoods, etc.

• The classification (labelling) of a country as a low forest cover country may have political implications that cannot be foreseen at the moment. For example, if a country is labelled as a LFCC would this lead to restrictions for the international marketing of forest products including non-timber forest products (NWFPs), would it increase chances of receiving financial and/or technical assistance, would it increase/reduce opportunities for support from the GEF, the World Bank, The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, etc.

• Until further clarification is gained on the above and as a "working definition" LFCCs have generally accepted that if forest cover - as defined by FRA2000 - is less than 10% of the country's territory, then the country can be considered a LFCC.

• Forest classifications according to Ecological Domain, Ecological Zones, and Forest Types are valid also for LFCCs. However, because in many cases there will be very little forest left to actually manage, it is essential to introduce a further dimension, i.e. Process. The "process" classification would describe the reasons for the present situation, and could include the following: desertification (due to human impact or climate change); urbanization; overuse (overgrazing, overcutting, etc.); regeneration; migration; etc.

• There is a need to consider fragile ecosystems (arid lands, mountains) in LFCCs as well as unique types of forests.

• The working group considers that there is a need for further work on forest definitions in relation to LFCCs both in the context of follow-up to the Second Expert Meeting and in the context of the Tehran Process.

28 The terms used in these Guidelines are based on ITTO forest categories (see also Appendix 8).

29 Forests that are used by indigenous and local communities with traditional lifestyles consistent with the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity are included in this category (Convention on Biological Diversity).

30 For instance, within one forest domain various carbon content values could/should be available for the different forest vegetation structures within that domain.

31 As far as the CCD is concerned no systematic reporting on land degradation seems to be contemplated at this stage; only general guidelines on information collection, analysis and exchange are provided in article 16.

32 In the analytical framework document it is stated that the CBD uses definition of ecosystem but that this is hard to apply as basis for forest classification.

33 No clear view whether a definition for degradation would call for differentiation of this definition per forest class.

34 Definitions are set for the first commitment period (2008-2012) when or if the Kyoto Protocol comes into force. This question is answered with possible future commitment periods in mind.

35 Country reporting is voluntary and the process of monitoring, assessment and reporting is not clearly defined yet.

36 Yes, when using C&I.

37 IUFRO has no reporting obligation but has a mandate to harmonise research terminology using concept-oriented approach.

38 With reference to the Tehran Process and the Tehran Declaration, Tehran, October 1999.

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