What is an outlook study

Assessing and analysing the status, trends and outlook for forestry is an integral component of FAO’s forestry strategy. Outlook studies highlight long-term trends in the sector and identify emerging opportunities and challenges. Drawing on the inputs from various initiatives, they examine the impact of key internal and external forces acting on the sector. By taking into account economic, social, institutional and technological changes, outlook studies support policy reviews and strategic planning, depict the range of choices available to forestry policy makers and describe the alternative scenarios that might arise as a result of these choices.

Global and regional outlook studies: FAO produces both global and regional forest sector outlook studies. Global studies examine trends in the production, trade and consumption of forest products and in specific thematic areas that are common to many countries. Regional studies examine a wider range of issues in more detail, including issues that are of particular concern to specific regions and groups of countries. The global and regional studies complement and reinforce each other.

What are outlook studies used for? Outlook studies deal with both the present and the future. Their main purpose is to serve as support to policy review and reform. An outlook study may point to the range of choices that are available - and draw some conclusions about the range of outcomes that might flow from these choices. Broadly speaking, outlook studies contribute in three main areas:

  • national policy development and planning;
  • international policy dialogue on forests;
  • investment planning.

The process of outlook studies: In implementing outlook studies, FAO places emphasis on:

  • involving all stakeholders in the process, especially country experts and other key players, such as multilateral and bilateral organizations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations;
  • develop national-level expertise on outlook study methodology, to improve knowledge management in countries to ensure wide ownership of outputs.

Outlook studies have both quantitative and qualitative elements. Analysis based on demand and supply models are supplemented by qualitative examination of topics and issues that could significantly affect future developments.

last updated:  Wednesday, April 13, 2011