The assessment covers 179 countries with a total land area of 12 936 million ha. A list of countries appears in the country tables under Annex 1. For the purpose of reporting, following the pattern of the 1991 FAO Production Yearbook, the countries have been grouped into two economic regions, viz. developed and developing; and seven geographic regions, viz. Europe, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), North America, developed Asia and Oceania, Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. Table 2 provides an overview of the geographic area and population of the regions.
The demographic and economic status of the regions (see Figure 1) is an important factor in shaping the state of forest resources, as will be discussed later in this report.
Only a brief description of the methodology is presented here as more detailed information is available in Annex 2 and the following three publications:
i) The Forest Resources of the Temperate Zones, The UN-FCE/FAO 1990 Forest Resources Assessment, New York, 1992 (in English, French and Russian). United Nations ECE/TIM/62 (2 vols).
ii) Forest Resources Assessment 1990: Tropical Countries, FAO Forestry Paper 112, Rome, 1993 (in English, French and Spanish)
iii) Forest Resources Assessment 1990: Non-tropical Developing countries. Misc. paper, FAO Rome
In the developed countries the assessment was implemented by means of a detailed enquiry, covering the most important forestry information. The following additional sources of information have been used by the secretariat to complete the enquiry:
! official data taken from national forest inventories or other equally authoritative sources;
! estimates provided by national correspondents, based on their knowledge and experience or that of other experts;
! secretariat estimates based on recent FAO and ECE forest resources publications, forestry fact sheets, official journals, etc.
For developing countries, the assessment has been carried out in two complementary phases:
Phase I: compilation of existing reliable survey data of the developing countries, standardization of inventory data according to a common classification system and their adjustment to the common reference years viz. 1980 and 1990.
Phase II: monitoring of tropical forest cover and its changes using remote sensing techniques.
The systems of classification and data gathering, followed for the developing and developed regions, differ in important ways. The differences are partly due to historical reasons and partly to the type of forest formation, as well as to socio-economic and associated institutional factors. Some distinctive features of the forestry situation in the tropics are: large scale deforestation, shifting cultivation, site and growing stock degradation, lack of management on much of the forest area, presence of large areas of heterogeneous and uneven-aged forests. There is also a relative lack of survey institutions in developing countries as compared to developed countries. These facts called for different approaches to assessment in the two economic regions.