Global Forest Resources Assessments

Forest Resources Assessment 1990

The Forest Resources Assessment 1990 (FRA 1990) covered all developing and industrialized countries and was distinguished by two innovations:

  • The development and use of a computerized "deforestation model", which was applied to the developing country data in order to project the forest area statistics to a common reference year.
  • An independent pantropical remote-sensing survey of forest change based on high-resolution remote-sensing data.

The "deforestation model" was introduced to eliminate the potential bias of expert opinion in the assessment of forest cover loss, and was partly driven by demographic parameters. The model approach did however result in a relatively high random error in country estimates. To provide a quality-controlled set of statistics on forest resources and to complement the assessment based on country information, FRA 1990 implemented a remote-sensing survey. The survey relied on statistical sampling (10 percent ) of the world's tropical forests through 117 sample units located throughout the pantropical zone. Each sample unit consisted of three multi-date Landsat satellite images which provided the raw material for producing statistics on forest and other land cover changes from 1980 to 1990 and later to 2000. The survey produced estimates of state and change at regional, ecological and pan-tropical levels but not at the national level.

As was the case for FRA 1980, FRA 1990 employed different definitions of forests for developing and industrialized countries. Combined with the absence of information on forest cover change in industrialized countries, the utility of the final global synthesis was limited.

FRA 1990's change assessment was limited to change in the area of forest combined with other wooded lands. The assessment covered the parameters of volume, biomass, annual harvesting (tropics) and plantations. Brief summaries were also made on conservation, forest management and biological diversity. The country briefs prominent in FRA 1980 were discontinued.

Major findings

  • Total forest area (global) 1990: 3.4 billion hectares.
  • Net forest change (tropical developing countries) 1980-1990: -13.6 million hectares per year.
  • Net forest change (global) 1980-1990: -9.9 million hectares per year (forest and other wooded lands combined).

Key outputs

Forest Resources Assessment 1990 Global Synthesis
Forest resources assessment 1990 Tropical countries
Forest resources assessment 1990 Non-tropical developing countries Mediterranean region
Forest resources assessment 1990 Tropical forest plantation resources
Forest resources assessment 1990 Non-tropical developing countries
Forest resources assessment 1990 Survey of tropical forest cover and study of change processes