Global Forest Resources Assessment
Kotka II recommendations
- It is essential that national and international organizations engaged in forest resources assessment coordinate their activities and cooperate with each other to avoid any duplication and keep to the minimum the burden on national correspondents and institutions. The meeting requested the joint FAO/ECE Working Party on Forest Economics and Statistics to review activities on forest resources assessment and collection of data on forest resources in the ECE region to ensure there was no duplication of activities.
- Because of the importance of changes in forest biomass in the carbon budget and climate change, FAO and UNEP were encouraged to prepare jointly a project proposal for global forest biomass monitoring as part of the FRA process. The Global Environment Facility might be considered as the funding source.
- Aware of the decisions on biodiversity agreed at UNCED and the importance of forest ecosystems in global biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization, the FAO and FAO/ECE should increase their efforts to compile at regional and global levels forest related data collected by national institutions in the temperate, tropical and boreal forests of the world. In addition national capacity and ability to gather forest related biodiversity data through traditional forest inventory practices should be strengthened.
- Consideration should be given to separating boreal from temperate forests in the assessment.
- In order to put the presentation of information for the temperate and tropical assessments in parallel, future temperate zone assessments should also incorporate the information on forest fires and forest health at present issued separately.
- Recognizing the need for timely and reliable information on forest resources, the initiative to develop and maintain a global network of remote-sensing processing and archiving systems was supported. These systems would provide optimized remote-sensing data to strengthen the capacity of countries to assess and monitor their own forest resources as well as assist the FAO's Forest Resources Assessment and Tropical Forest Action Programme (TFAP) activities. The need for a remote-sensing satellite dedicated to global forest monitoring should be examined.
- Particular attention should be paid, at all stages, to national capacity building in developing countries, notably as regards construction of national databases, training of staff (lack of trained staff was often the major constraint at national level) and provision of necessary equipment.
- FAO should urgently compile a Directory of institutions, national and international, and contact persons engaged in forest resource assessment, including a brief descripton of their activities and the methodology and equipment used (e.g. for remote sensing).
- It was pointed out that countries in transition had specific problems which needed urgent resolution. FAO/ECE and FAO should continue to attach priority to their programmes to assist countries in transition mostly through exchange of information and experience, but also as advisors to funding agencies.
- The UNCED preparatory process demonstrated that problems of a political nature arose from the lack of comparability of data on the status of forests in the North and the South. It is essential that in the future the core information be entirely comparable and that the format of the enquiry and the methods of work be agreed in advance at the intergovernmental level. To that end, the meeting suggested that FAO, FAO/ECE and UNEP study the feasibility of establishing an intergovernmental panel of experts in forest resource assessment and monitoring to advise these organizations in carrying out the work. Its members should be senior people, at the interface between political and technical issues. To ensure effectiveness, the panel should not be too large (say about 15). The three Secretariats should participate in the preparation of the meetings. As such a panel could probably not be established immediately, the opportunity should be take to stimulate reflection and comments by the FAO regional forestry commissions. To this end, the meeting suggested that the Joint FAO/ECE Working Party convey the Kotka meeting's suggestions along with the Working Party's comments, to the European Forestry Commission and that FAO share them to the other regional commissions. In this way, the final proposal could take into account the comments made by these policy bodies.
- An analysis should be carried out of the extent to which the results of the global forest resources assessments are used at the national and international levels. Constraints on the full use of this information should be identified and methods for improvement proposed.
- Care should be taken when introducing observations on new definitions and parameters in existing databases so that time series are disturbed as little as possible.
- The system of national correspondents had proved useful for the FRA 1990 (temperate zone). The Joint Working Party should consider re-establishing the correspondent network (identifying institutions as well as individuals), and FAO might consider using this system with appropriate modifications in developing countries, including twinning, lead centres and Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) arrangements.
- As regards the continual updating of the forest resource database, the meeting felt it was desirable to have a unique global database to incorporate data from tropical, industrialized and non-tropical developing countries, to provide a single worldwide source of data on the forest resource, which could be regularly updated. Before this recommendation could be implemented, it was neccesary to explore a number of questions, notably the form of input required, the classifications to be applied, the adjustments neccessary to convert national information to a harmonized format, the updating procedure and reference to source materials. The meeting requested the FAO and FAO/ECE Secretariats to explore these questions and present a detailed proposal to the Joint FAO/ECE Working Party on Forest Economics and Statistics at its twentieth session, probably in 1995. Consideration should be given to combining the database developed by EFI on the basis of the FRA (temperate zones) with FORIS. It would be helpful to supply an example of the output of FORIS as a demonstration of the system's potential.
- To the extent possible, information in forest resource databases should be published and disseminated as widely as possible, in hard copy, in machine-readable form and through interactive processes.
- The relevant UN organizations, should make sure that all land cover types, including grassland, shrubland, wetlands and arid land are adequately covered in international reporting on natural resources. These lands like forest lands, are very important in the context of biodiversity, as sources of food, fibre and fuel and as components of the carbon cycle.
- The meeting endorsed the set of recommendations and general conclusions of the working groups reports, but noted that insufficient time had been available to review them in detail or to check them for consistency. It asked the Secretariat to do this on the basis of the meeting's comments and to prepare unified and consistent proposals.
last updated: Thursday, September 12, 2002