XIV World Forest Congress 2015

Monitoring forests for better decision-making

©FAO/Simon Maina

Improving information about forests leads to better decisions

The world's forest area is about 4 billion hectares - roughly 30 percent of the global land area, an important fact that has come from over 60 years of global forest monitoring and assessment. With human population growing exponentially, the demand for forest products, such as wood, is rapidly rising, making monitoring an essential tool for planning for future sustainable supply. Forest monitoring provides a foundation for better planning, investment, management and evaluation of forest quality and extent.

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Forests are monitored for various reasons, including gathering information to manage forests for timber production, watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, carbon storage and the provision of many other environmental services. Different methods can be used, in most cases combining field measurements and remote sensing data.

Land managers and policy makers must have reliable information on the forests they control or influence if they are to develop plans for their sustainable use and protection. Knowing how a forest is changed by a sudden insect infestation allows policy makers to measure the extent of damage so they can then plan for salvage and regeneration options and minimize the impact on local economies, or how forests are expected to be impacted in the long term by climate changes will allow them to select management practices to minimize the impact.



  • Provide a forum for sharing past experiences in forest monitoring, including recent information needs. Much has been learned from the successes, and failures in generating and using forest inventories. The sessions are an opportunity to share lessons learned.
  • Present evidence that there are tangible returns to investment in forest monitoring. Too often governments are encouraged to monitor their forests without evidence that this provides real benefits to their citizens. The sessions will demonstrate both tangible and qualitative benefits to forest monitoring for multiple purposes.
  • Explore the future of forest monitoring. While the latest technical tools are attractive, will they add value to time-tested methods? The sessions will present a view into the future of forest monitoring.