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The global results of the FAO and FAO/ECE Forest Resources Assessment 1990 (FRA90) have been produced from a synthesis of assessments of the developed and developing countries which use different approaches and classification systems. Core definitions are not fully identical. For these reasons the results of the assessment are not fully compatible between the developing and the developed countries. In recognition of these shortcomings there is need to serve compatibility and close coordination between the assessments of the developing and developed countries. Global concern regarding biological diversity, global climate change and degradation of land and

vegetation have raised a major interest in quantified data on these issues. The 1990 Forest Resources Assessment has produced only the beginnings of an answer to this challenge. Several expert meetings have recommended that more emphasis be given to assessment of environmental parameters. These recommendations have been endorsed by the Committee on Forestry.

A review of FAO*s global assessments over the last 50 years shows that they have been carried out on ‘occasions* separated by five to ten-year intervals. One of the major disadvantages of these occasional assessments is the loss of institutional memory, capacities and knowledge base between two successive exercises. In particular following UNCED, the fundamental importance of continuous forest resources assessment is now recognized (for instance by the Committee on forestry at its 1993 session) FAO intends to integrate increasingly this activity within its Regular Programme.

The availability and reliability of data from the developing countries will remain a source of major concern for future FAO global assessments. The state and change information on forest cover areaand biomass could probably be made available by developing countries for regional or global purposes within the next ten or twenty years only if a concerted effort is made to enhance their capacity in forest inventory and monitoring.

For developed countries it has in most cases been possible to compile data with a detail and accuracy which exceeds that for developing countries. Data on growing stock, woody biomass, growth and harvest have been provided by the countries. Quality and quantity of data vary considerably, however, between the countries, and there are many gaps in the information supplied. Regional totals cannot be made for all variables. In a number of cases Secretariat estimates had to be made to achieve such totals. Results regarding changes in forest area are incomplete and not conclusive. Assessment of environmental parameters is advanced with regard to biomass but is only beginning for others aspects. Moreover, core definitions have been interpreted and applied quite differently in different countries due to differences in basic concepts and schools.

In view of the background described above, the following guidelines for action appear particularly important: