Forest Resources Assessment - WP 54


On behalf of FAO as part of the
Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000
September 2000.





The Forest Resources Assessment Programme

Forests are crucial for the well being of humanity. They provide foundations for life on earth through ecological functions, by regulating the climate and water resources and by serving as habitats for plants and animals. Forests also furnish a wide range of essential goods such as wood, food, fodder and medicines, in addition to opportunities for recreation, spiritual renewal and other services.

Today, forests are under pressure from increasing demands of land-based products and services, which frequently leads to the conversion or degradation of forests into unsustainable forms of land use. When forests are lost or severely degraded, their capacity to function as regulators of the environment is also lost, increasing flood and erosion hazards, reducing soil fertility and contributing to the loss of plant and animal life. As a result, the sustainable provision of goods and services from forests is jeopardized.

FAO, at the request of the member nations and the world community, regularly monitors the world’s forests through the Forest Resources Assessment Programme. The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000), reviewed the forest situation by the end of the millennium. FRA 2000 included country-level information based on existing forest inventory data, regional investigations of land-cover change processes and a number of global studies focusing on the interaction between people and forests. The FRA 2000 Main report published in print and on the World Wide Web in 2001.

The Forest Resources Assessment Programme is organized under the Forest Resources Division (FOR) at FAO headquarters in Rome. Contact persons are:

Peter Holmgren [email protected]

Mohamed Saket [email protected]

or use the e-mail address: [email protected]


The Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) Working Paper Series is designed to reflect the activities and progress of the FRA Programme of FAO. Working Papers are not authoritative information sources – they do not reflect the official position of FAO and should not be used for official purposes. Please refer to the FAO forestry website ( for access to official information.

The FRA Working Paper Series provides an important forum for the rapid release of preliminary findings needed for validation and to facilitate the final development of official quality-controlled publications. Should users find any errors in the documents or have comments for improving their quality they should contact [email protected].


Executive Summary

I Introduction
Forests and biodiversity
Human impacts on forest biodiversity
Constraints on evaluating forest capacity for biodiversity preservation

II Assessing human impacts on forest biodiversity
Forest area
Forest configuration
Area effects
Edge and gradient effects
Isolation effects
Human activity

III Measuring forest configuration and spatial integrity
Source data
Other constraints
Analysis tools
A proposed approach to measuring and monitoring forest spatial integrity
Forest Patch Size
Shape or edge influence
Isolation and inter-connection
Forest Spatial Integrity Index
Presentation of results

IV A Focus on Human Activity
Spatial Pattern
Measuring Isolation from Human Activity at Landscape Scales: Some Previous Experience
Large Natural (Roadless) Areas
Measuring a Continuum: the Wilderness Index
Measures of Accessibility, Population Density and Resource Use
Developing Spatial Indicators of Naturalness for Use at Global and Regional Scales
Key Attributes
An Effective Spatial Model: Basic Requirements
Primary Attribute Data Availability and Quality
Data Scale Issues
Presentation of Results

V Conclusion

VI References

FRA Working Papers

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