На пути к улучшению отчетности по девственным лесам

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) provides essential information for understanding the extent of the world’s forest resources, their condition, management and uses.  Data collected through the FRA reporting process are used to report on progress towards globally agreed targets and inform policy and decisions by governments, civil society and the private sector. Therefore, concepts, definitions and methods developed for the FRA have broad influence beyond the process itself and must therefore be carefully developed to ensure they can be implemented consistently by as many actors as possible. This on-line consultation contributes to improvements of guidance and methods for reporting comparable global information for primary forest area and its changes. 

The FRA requests countries to report on the extent of their forests for several different types of forests. One of these types is “Primary forest” which is defined by FAO as “Naturally regenerated forest of native tree species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed” (Terms and Definitions, FRA 2020). 

While the definition of primary forest may be broadly accepted, consistently measuring the actual area of primary forest among countries has proven to be challenging.  Studies have shown considerable variation in how countries apply the definition in their own circumstances, which raises questions about the comparability of the data among countries and its applicability for informing policy and decisions.  In addition, other recent studies have suggested new methods to assess the area of primary forest that might be broadly applicable among many countries. Fostering discussion and debate around definition and operational methodology for the assessment of primary forest are key to promoting accurate and consistent global reporting to assess progress toward global objectives such as Aichi Biodiversity Target 5 forest-related goals and targets under the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, Sustainable Development Goal 15 and the goals of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030.

Therefore, the FAO has undertaken to bring together FRA National Correspondents and other experts through a series of workshops to improve the operational methods for data collection and reporting on the extent of primary forests. The goal of these workshops is to increase the consistency of data collection methods and enhance the comparability among countries of estimates of the extent of primary forests. The workshops will be conducted in the course of 2020-2021 in different regions based on ecological, geographical, language and forest management differences in primary forests. The first workshop, for the boreal biome, is scheduled for March 17-19, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. 

In order to facilitate discussion at these workshops, a background paper is being prepared, summarizing how the extent of primary forest has been assessed to date, identifying emerging methods that might provide useful alternatives to existing methods, and providing options for workshop participants to discuss.

The paper presents:

  1. A review and assessment of definitions relating to primary forests;
  2. A review of how primary forest has been reported in FRAs to date;
  3. An evaluation of datasets and methods currently available for mapping primary forests and estimating their condition, area and trends; and
  4. Options for future defining, assessing and reporting on primary forests.

Through this e-consultation, FRA National Correspondents, Secretariats of the Rio Conventions, Civil Society and other stakeholders are kindly invited to comment the background paper draft. The received feedback will contribute to the preparation of the final version of the background paper, which will be presented during the regional primary forest workshops.

When providing your feedback, kindly reply to the following guiding questions:

  1. Is the FAO definition on primary forest (FAO, 2018) adequate to your national/regional/global assessment and reporting purposes? If not, what criteria would you like to add/remove from the FAO definition?
  2. Is the background paper missing any major issues? If yes, please specify.
  3. Which methodology and data, if any, do you use to assess primary forest area and its changes?
  4. Which methodological changes would be needed to improve reporting on primary forest area and its changes at national, regional and global levels, with particular emphasis on improving consistency among countries?
  5. How can FAO help countries improve their reporting on primary forest?

В настоящее время это мероприятие закрыто. Пожалуйста, свяжитесь с [email protected] для получения любой дополнительной информации.

* Нажмите на имя, чтобы ознакомиться с комментариями, оставленными участником, и свяжитесь с ним / ней напрямую
  • Прочитано 27 комментарии
  • Развернуть все
  1. Is the FAO definition on primary forest (FAO, 2018) adequate to your national/regional/global assessment and reporting purposes? If not, what criteria would you like to add/remove from the FAO definition?

Yes, FAO definition on primary forest is correct. But in Poland is still primary forests (def. FAO: naturally regenerated forest of native tree species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed) in Poland is still discuss, because we have clear definition of forest (acc. to art. 3 decree from  28.09.1991 r. about forests; DzU of 2020. Pos.. 6 with further changes)- opinion of Dr Wojciech Rakowski.

I would like to appoint that primary forests status should not be influenced by any changes especially by the group of people who put pressure on exploring  valuable species of wood/timber. This wrong situation was noticed in Poland in our primary forest Bialowieska Puszcza by decision to cut so many trees under the pretexts of insects’ attack. As high ranking specialist know all these primary forests are of special kind of biocoenosis, which have  self curing phenomenon in case of biological danger. As you probably know Poland belongs to remarkable producers of furniture and pulp & paper in Europe. For this reason big international companies look for the possibility of exploring these primary forest resources as well.

There was a judgment in EC and as a result Poland had to pay penalty for this wrong action against Bialowieska Forest.  Now fortunately this action was stopped and we hope that this primary forest on territory of Poland will survive. 

The forest which can comply the definition of primary forests  are:

Białowieża Forest in Polish: Puszcza Białowieska (ca 1500 km2),  Czatożańska primary forest (ca 80 ha), Puszcza Karpacka (19,000 ha), Puszczę Romincką (ok. 15,000 ha).Moreover:

Białowieża Forest in Polish: Puszcza Białowieska is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. Covers ca 1500 km2.

Augustów Primeval Forest or Augustów Forest in Polish: Puszcza Augustowska 1600 km2

Puszcza Knyszyńska, Puszcza Knyszyńsko-Białostocka –area 1050 km²,

Puszcza Notecka –1372 km²

Niepołomice Forest (Polish: Puszcza Niepołomicka) is a large forest complex in western part of Sandomierz Basin, about 20 km east of Kraków (center The main complex covers about 110 km2 (42 sq mi).

Bory Tucholskie ok. 3 tys. km² s Greatest group of pine forest.

The above mentioned above are primary forests with special biocenose under caring of Polish


  1. Is the background paper missing any major issues? If yes, please specify. In my opinion no major issues are missing.
  2. Which methodology and data, if any, do you use to assess primary forest area and its changes?

These problem are still discussed by Polish Academy of science, Universities and Research Institutes. Prof. Janusz Faliński introduced terminology used to plant communities as: 1. autogenic: primary and natural, 2. anthropogenic: seminatural and synanthropic and 3. Xenospontaneous. For more data I suggest to contact specialist dr Wojciech Rakowski.

  1. Which methodological changes would be needed to improve reporting on primary forest area and its changes at national, regional and global levels, with particular emphasis on improving consistency among countries?

According to the part of the world some countries have different attitude towards reporting and methodology. According to Dr Wojciech Rakowski: he certainly would not include "wilderness" here, which gained this name only thanks to the large number of trees growing on a large area, such as the Noteć Forest (planted in the 1920s, centuries-old pine monocultures), despite the fact that most of it is covered by various forms of protection nature (area Natura 2000 Puszcza Notecka PLB300015).

Also, the vast majority of forests in Polish national parks have little to do with originality or naturalness; in some national parks forest management is conducted; the extreme case is the forests of the Wielkopolski National Park (mainly pine monocultures on former agricultural lands).

  1. How can FAO help countries improve their reporting on primary forest?

The unified definition of primary forests and their proper management would be of help. Moreover FAO patronage and support of the conferences, symposia and workshops would be advisable.

Prof. Dr Ryszard M. Kozłowski

ESCORENA Focal Point


I am concerned by the label "primary forests" - I assume it means climax forest, especially "old growth" containing trees at least half as old as their lifespans. Often, the implication is that this kind of forest has not been subjected to significant disturbance by human activities, such as logging, and that the species composition has not been affected by humans either. Old growth forests have some of the most commercially valuable timber, but occupied land that could be used for second-growth stands that grew more quickly and could be harvested more frequently. For example, in British Columbia, Canada, harvesting in the coastal region is moving to such second-growth stands.

There was a scientific symposium in Canada in 2001 that found difficulty in developing a rigorous scientific definition. I believe the results are available in the FAO data base: at the following: http://www.fao.org/3/xii/0042-b1.htm They concluded: "...Concerns over old-growth conservation go well beyond the more traditional areas of watershed (including water quality) and habitat protection, and includes emerging issues such as the conservation of genetic resources and carbon sequestration. Conservation of old growth is very much a cross-sectoral issue with many interdisciplinary linkages. It is important to dispel the notion that concerns about the disappearance of old-growth forests from our landscape are simply the preoccupation of environmentalists. It is an important issue with implications for ecological science, the long-term health of our forest economy, and our quality-of-life. It is time for the wider forestry community - the forest sector as a whole - to embrace this issue in a more serious way and to take up the cause of old-growth conservation."

My own research, while I was a principal scientist at the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, was partly focussed on the issue of forest uses. I found that, in almost every case, both patches of climax forest, and the mosaic of secondary growth, were generally constituted the ecological "commons" of each community we studied in the Sahel. These appeared to be critical, moreover, in the maintenance of water tables, and in preventing both rainy season flooding and erosion and in preventing dry season failure of wells and other sources of water. As population increased, and, more significantly, as acreage devoted to commercial crops increased, the percentage of land returned to the commons, after a period of cultivation, was falling during the 1980s, and has fallen subsequently. My colleague, agronomist Willem Stoop, and I wrote on this here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/016788099090214X

In the long run, it became clear that both nomadic pastoralism and slash and burn (long fallow) farming economies tended to produce mosaics of ecological diversity - in forested zones, this resulted in a complex of about 20-25% cleared land growing crops and 80% land in secondary growth. This secondary growth represented various stages from pioneering annual grasses and "weedy" plants, through early pioneering shrubs and trees, through to early stages marking the re-establishment of some of the climax tree species that would eventually become old growth primary forests if left alone. Sacred groves of such ancient trees were found in all the village territories. I suspect that these are essential to the overall process of restoring soil nutrients, for it was in symbiosis between these species and various underground fungi that nutrient capture was completed.

Elinor Ostrom found that the preservation of these areas of forested commons was an essential aspect of long term sustainability even where more intensive agriculture had developed, and emphasized the importance of local management - and control - over the degree of harvesting of trees and other forest products. See http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqC7xG8fxHw

I hope this little contribution of mine is not too late to be of use.

sincerely, Helga Vieirch

Dear members of the FRA forum,

What an incredible way to finish the e-consultation, with so many thorough and thought-provoking comments being submitted over the final few days. As the forum comes to a close, I’d like to express a big thank you to all those who have contributed, on my behalf as well as that of the whole Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) Programme.

The next step of the process will be to analyse and assess the feedback received on the forum and with our best efforts, integrate these into the final version of the background paper. In order to ensure that we get the correct representation of respondent’s comments, we may be in contact with you for clarification.

The final version of the report will be shared on this platform as well as being discussed at the first workshop, for the boreal biome, scheduled for March 17-19, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada.

Kind regards,

Patrick Norman

Dear colleagues, 
Please find below a contribution on behalf of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

1. Is the FAO definition on primary forest (FAO, 2018) adequate to your national/regional/global assessment and reporting purposes? If not, what criteria would you like to add/remove from the FAO definition?

The current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets include Target 5, which reads “By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced”.

“Natural habitats, including forests” includes “forests as natural habitats” among other ecosystems. This wording does not match a specific category of the FRA such that it could be used as an obvious indicator. The ‘naturally regenerated forests’ category of the FRA may encompass forests as natural habitats, but permits a level of disturbance that may be detrimental to some species. The definition of primary forest proposed for the FRA refers to a number of criteria that are characteristic of forests as natural habitats (lack of significant native species loss; lack of disturbance of ecological processes; presence of natural forest dynamics; natural tree species composition; occurrence of dead wood; natural age structure; occurrence of natural regeneration processes), making that category of the FRA very adequate to global assessment and reporting purposes under Aichi Biodiversity Target 5. 

This target will likely be replaced in new global biodiversity framework is under discussion, to be adopted at CBD COP 15 in October 2020. The targets proposed under the ‘Zero Draft’ of the new framework are still to be negotiated and will likely incur substantial changes, however they refer to “no net loss”, “retention and restoration”, “integrity”, “intact areas”, “wilderness”. If such targets are adopted, a global indicator of primary forests would be extremely relevant, as an indicator of the integrity of ecosystems, to ensure that the achievement of these targets is not based upon large-scale replacement of primary forests with younger or more modified forests that do no have the same value for biodiversity.

A monitoring framework with indicators is being developed as a supplementary component of the new biodiversity framework, which mentions as a suggested element for the monitoring the “Change, and rate of change, in extent of natural ecosystems and biomes (overall, for each biome/ecosystem type, and for intact areas, e.g. primary forests)”, and as a potential indicator for that element “Trends in primary forest extent”. This relevance hopefully explains the 'why' of wanting to improve data under this variable of the FRA, in response to the comments made by Sonja Onswalt.

As the report points out, the definition of primary forests proposed by the FRA is consistent with how the term is used in the scientific literature. From the standpoint of global assessment and reporting under the CBD, the criteria proposed are a good enough fit for the concept of “forests as natural habitat” under ABT 5. Rather than adding or removing criteria, the focus should be on making sure that they are used consistently by countries when providing figures on primary forests in their FRA reports. Instead of relying on broad tiers of accuracy, the reporting format for this category could include information on which of these criteria have actually been applied in the methodology used to estimate primary forest extent.

The wording of some of the criteria may also need to be reviewed to avoid and/or clarify ambiguous terms. For example “significant species loss” begs the question of what threshold should be used to consider that species loss is significant enough that the criterion cannot be met. Similar to the other thresholds discussed in the report (canopy height, canopy cover), this may need to be defined separately for different forest biomes/realms.

Since implementation of the globally agreed targets currently negotiated through the CBD process happens through national actions, the existence of time series data on primary forest at the national level is also of use to the CBD process. Having this information can help countries set ambitious, yet realistic targets, based on knowledge of previous rates of primary forest loss. The objective of the series of workshops to strenghten the capacity of governments to make use of the most recent and accurate datasets is therefore aligned with the capacity-building efforts of the CBD Secretariat towards the adoption of more specific national targets for ecosystem loss and restoration, including forests.

2. Is the background paper missing any major issues? If yes, please specify.

The paper does a good job of reviewing currently available datasets but seems to fail short of making more concrete recommendations on which of those could be used to specifically address the criteria of the definition. It recommends that a “minimum attribute dataset” be defined to assess primary forest extent but does not list concrete recommendations for data that could be used for that purpose – will this be decided during the workshops?

A summary table would have been useful to present specific datasets/methodologies against each of the criterion of the definition, possibly differentiating between different regions. This could be the expected outcome of the workshops, but it may be more realistic to start them with clearer proposals to use as a basis for the discussion.

The report could also draw further on the review conducted by the Secretariat of the CBD in 2018 of national FRA reports, which highlighted the discrepancies in the methodologies currently used to estimate primary forest extent, and the departure from the criteria listed in the definition. This is relevant background information for example to complement the information in Table 5. It does not make sense to compare the FRA reporting amongst countries and against available global datasets if the criteria they have used to define primary forests are completely different (some countries e.g. Russia look at lack of disturbance while others simply use the area of forest under protected status – which is often not a guarantee of no disturbance!).

This information is also important to assess the reluctance that there may be to adopting new methodologies that could completely contradict previous data and trends reported by a country under this variable. 

One point missing from the report, but perhaps for clarification by the FRA team, is also the question of retroactivity of the application of harmonized/improved methodologies – Will a new time series data of primary forest extent be started from FRA 2020 or will data previously submitted be revised? How to ensure consistency not just across countries/regions but also over time in the reporting of this data?

3. Which methodology and data, if any, do you use to assess primary forest area and its changes?

The 5th edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook relies, among other indicators, on the ‘primary forest’ category of the FRA to assess progress under Aichi Biodiversity Target 5. While the FRA data is used to determine that the target has not been met, the exact reference is actually to the 2015 article by Morales-Hidalgo et al., which extracts figures at regional level from the FRA category on primary forests but also points at the inconsistencies in the application of the methodology and potential issues with the data.

In short, while the limitations of the FRA data on primary forests are well known, there does not seem to be an alternative indicator readily available at the global level. For intergovernmental processes such as the CBD, the value of the FRA resides not only in its global coverage but also in its acceptability to national governments since all the data points have been formally approved.

4. Which methodological changes would be needed to improve reporting on primary forest area and its changes at national, regional and global levels, with particular emphasis on improving consistency among countries?

See response under question 2.

5. How can FAO help countries improve their reporting on primary forest?

FAO could encourage closer coordination FRA national correspondents andCBD Focal points working on their reports to the CBD, to make the most of the potential for synergies between the two reporting processes. Many of the biodiversity indicators used by Parties to the CBD may be of relevance to apply the criteria of the definition of primary forests in the FRA and much of the data collected for one process could be relevant for the other. 

We look forward to the outcomes of this consultation and workshop series. 

Jing Yang

FRA National Correspondent

Dear colleagues,

We, Prof. Zeng Weisheng, Prof. Gao Xianlian and I, have carefully read the background paper on primary forest and the contributions on-line. Combining with the properties of forest resources in China and the situations of forest resources assessment for FRA2020, some opinions are presented for reference as follows:

On the background paper. The background paper is a review document with rich information, which not only clarified the background of improving the primary forest reporting in the 2020 global forest resources assessment, but also outlined the current situation of primary forests reporting and the international efforts related to measuring and mapping primary forests, and finally presented some options for improving operational methods and guidance for data collection and reporting on primary forests. Therefore, we should thank Professor Patrick Norman and his colleagues at first for their efforts on drafting the background paper. Of cause, just as some experts have stated, the background paper needs to be improved further.

On the definition of primary forests. As stated in the background paper, the FRA 2015 definition of primary forest is a reasonable statement and consistent with how the term is used in the scientific literature, but we still think the definition remains vague and abstract. In the FRA 2020 terms and definitions, supplementary explanations of what is included and what is not included have been added to make the definition of primary forest clearer. The definition is a little bit more specific, but the argument is also appeared. For example, are traditional activities by indigenous people not human disturbance, and can the forest still be considered as primary forest after fire? Generally, the more abstract, simpler definitions are easier to agree on, while the more complex, concrete definitions are more likely to be controversial. Since the definition of primary forest cannot be expressed by specific inventory variables, countries will inevitably have inconsistent understanding and practices in the reporting process. The percentage tree canopy cover and height thresholds use to delineate forest from non-forest vegetation. How to set the thresholds for primary forest is a challenge. It would be very difficult for countries to undertake forest assessments on an eco-regional basis, to specify the forest canopy cover and height thresholds for each forest type, and to then establish baseline characteristic values for primary, secondary and degraded forests in a short period. Furthermore, besides the two factors of canopy cover and height, the attributes of anthropogenic influence, ecological characteristics and vegetation structure should also be taken into account in the definition of primary forest. In addition, further consideration is also needed regarding questions of spatial scale or minimum area and other controversial issues in assessing primary forests, such as, whether or not human disturbance should be treated differently between indigenous people and other people, whether the effects of fire are natural or human disturbance?

On the purpose of primary forest reporting. As Ms. Sonja Oswalt from USDA Forest Service stated, firstly we should be informed “why we want this”, or the purpose of primary forest reporting. It is because the definition of primary forest and the method of obtaining primary forest data are highly relevant to our goal. For example, do we care about anthropogenic influence or ecological characteristics of primary forest? If it is the former, we can focus on the "undisturbed forests", and obtain the relevant data by using remote sensing techniques; and if it is the latter, the situation is much more complicated because different forest types have different ecological characteristics. Some experts have suggested conduct forest resources assessment on a bio-regional or eco-regional basis, which would be difficult to implement only based on remotely sensed data. Viewing from forest inventory and global scale, we think we should prefer the former. For the assessment of clearly visible human activities on forests during the near period or the last 20 years, we can use the full Landsat archive data to conduct monitoring, just as stated by Christelle Vancutsem and Frederic Achard from Joint Research Centre, European Commission. Considering the differences among the countries’ financial resources, the “tier approach” suggested by Dr. Mila Alvarez Ibanez from USDA Forest Service, could be referenced to reporting on primary forests characteristics, which defined 3 tiers with different accuracy of the data.

On primary forest data of China. The data of primary forests in the country report of China submitted to FAO were from the National Forest Inventories, which were obtained from experts’ assessment based on the variable “degree of naturalness”.  The “degree of naturalness” is an index that reflects the degree of forest naturalness by considering the attributes of anthropogenic influence, ecological characteristics and vegetation structure. From primary forests to plantations, there are 5 grades of “degree of naturalness”. In our original sense, primary forests are those with grade I of “degree of naturalness”. However, due to the vagueness and abstraction of the criteria of naturalness and the lack of clear quantitative indicators, inconsistent understandings and practices had appeared in the field work, resulting in unsatisfactory inventory results. That is, some of the grade I forests classified by the field teams are obviously not primary forests, and some of the grade II forests are probably better to classified into primary forests. Finally, after expert analysis and evaluation, 85% of grade I forests and 20% of grade II forests were identified as primary forest area.

On primary forest mapping. The national data of many countries, including China, used for FRA 2020 are derived from NFIs’ data, which are hard to be drawn upon map. Even for total forest area, the NFI data are hardly consistent with the sum of data from forest management inventories. Unless the definition of primary forest is based on a small number of measurable characteristic variables (such as area, height and canopy cover), and the primary forest reporting is carried out by means of mapping based on remote sensing, the consistency between statistical data and map area is difficult to be achieved.

In summary, it is a challenging task to improve the definition of primary forest and its reporting methods. Although we can’t attend the workshop to be held in March in Canada, we will continue to pay attention to the progress of the expert consultation on Improved Reporting on Primary Forests. I wish this workshop every success.

Jing Yang

FRA National Correspondent from China

Claudiu Zaharescu

Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests

1. Is the FAO definition on primary forest (FAO, 2018) adequate to your national/regional/global assessment and reporting purposes? If not, what criteria would you like to add/remove from the FAO definition?

The definition is acceptable but has a certain dose of subjectivism/contradiction, as long as it ”includes both pristine and managed forests (that meet the definition)”.

So, ”managed forests” are supposed to be those in which ”traditional forest stewardship” currently take place (inevitably by harvesting wood/forest products), but invisibly and in the same time with „no known significant human intervention”.

The pristine forests are well defined and documented in Romania further to clear criteria and indicators established by law, which are checked during specific studies (developed also based on a regulated methodology), or during the forest management plan review, which resulted in the National Catalogue of Virgin and Quasi-Virgin Forests.

Accounting for the rest – the managed forests (the ”soft version” of pristine forests), seems not to be an easy mission and should be based on a compromise, difficult to be statistically recorded/reported.)

2. Is the background paper missing any major issues? If yes, please specify.

In the chapters 1. Introduction and 2. Current reporting on primary forests some approaches/methodologies for data collection and evaluation of more or less experimental primary forests from ex-European countries are mentioned, but nothing is mentioned about the approach of the countries from the Carpathian region in Europe, signatories of the FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON THE PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CARPATHIANS. The Carpathian Convention created the framework for the adoption and harmonization of sustainable forest management in the region and, in particular, for the protection of the pristine forests of the Carpathians. Thus, under the "Protocol on sustainable forest management", adopted in Bratislava, on May 27, 2011, one of the activities by which the States parties contribute to the achievement of the objective of the protocol is to carry out activities and to cooperate for "identification and protection of natural, especially virgin forests". In this respect, on the occasion of COP4 of the Convention, Parties adopted "Criteria and indicators for the identification of virgin forests in the Carpathians and a common format for data collection and mapping". The activities are currently underway for inventory and protection of virgin forests.

It can be stated with certainty that at present, the Countries Party to the Carpathian Convention have the most comprehensive legal framework regarding the protection of virgin forests. Romania actively contributed to the elaboration of this regional framework, considering the criteria and indicators that it has already developed and used.

3. Which methodology and data, if any, do you use to assess primary forest area and its changes?

The methodology used in Romania to assess pristine forests (virgin and quasivirgin forests) is approved by a Ministerial Order/2012 and is based on indicators grouped under two criteria:

a. Naturalness

b. Surface size and borders

Regarding the primary forest, we chose the variant of the forests with special protection function, under a functional type with specific management according to which forest works are not allowed by forest management plans, due to functions to be met by respective forests, but there is no guarantee of 100% fulfilment of all the conditions in the definition.

4. Which methodological changes would be needed to improve reporting on primary forest area and its changes at national, regional and global levels, with particular emphasis on improving consistency among countries?

Establishing some indicators, like the minimum surface of a primary forest, for instance, or establishing common methodologies on ecological or biogeographical regions, but the more complex the definition / method, the harder it is to inventory/identify such forests.

5. How can FAO help countries improve their reporting on primary forest?

Defining a small set of indicators derived from definition, with a minimum number of indicators to be met by countries under a certain flexibility, adapted to their specific,

It is important for countries to present the criteria that are used to identify and map primary forests, to reflect the robustness / consistency of the data used in reporting.

English translation below

Добрый день. В Российской Федерации имеется несколько определений терминов «девственный» (первичный, коренной) лес. Одно из них приведено ниже.

«Естественный лес, не испытавший заметного антропогенного воздействия, изменяющийся на протяжении многих поколений лесообразующих древесных пород под влиянием природных процессов» (Энциклопедия лесного хозяйства 2006)

Все определения имеют описательный характер. Насколько нам известно, примерно, такая же ситуация и в других странах. Определение ФАО в ГОЛР 2020 так же имеет описательный характер. Это затрудняет проведение учета по площадям, который предусматривается в ГОЛР.
Мы считаем, что нужны численные параметры, позволяющие относить лесной участок к девственным или вторичным лесам. Например, размеры участка, происхождение, период, за который участок не испытывал воздействия человека и пр.
Одним из примеров такого подхода является определение термина малонарушенные лесные территории и малонарушенные леса, сформулированное ВВФ.

МЛТ — это эталоны дикой природы. Составляющие их экосистемы развиваются и сменяются по естественным законам, создавая условия для существования видов флоры и фауны в естественной среде обитания (даже таких требовательных, как крупные хищные животные).

Термин МЛТ используется в международном переговорном процессе по лесам, например, в Конвенции ООН по сохранению биоразнообразия.

В любом случае, с учетом международной значимости вопроса, проведение консультаций под эгидой ФАО является полезным.

Good afternoon. In the Russian Federation there are several definitions for the terms “virgin” (primary) forest. One of them is provided below.

“A natural forest that has not experienced a noticeable anthropogenic impact, changing over many generations of forest-forming tree species under the impact of natural processes” (Forest Encyclopedia 2006)

All definitions are descriptive. As far as we know, approximately the same situation is in other countries. The FAO definition in GLOBAL FOREST RESOURCES ASSESSMENT (FRA) 2020  is also descriptive. This makes it difficult to carry out the accounting on the areas provided for in the GLOBAL FOREST RESOURCES ASSESSMENT (FRA).
We believe that numerical parameters are needed that make it possible to attribute the forest area to primary or secondary forests. For example, the size of the site, the origin, the period during which the site did not experience antropogenic impacts, etc.
One example of this approach is the definition of the term of intact forest landscapes and intact forests as formulated by the WWF.

IFL are wildlife models. The ecosystems that compose them develop and are replaced based on natural laws, creating conditions for the existence of species of flora and fauna in their natural habitat (even such demanding ones as large predatory animals).

The term of IFL is used in the international negotiation process on forests, for example, in the UN Convention on Biodiversity Conservation.

In any case, given the international significance of the issue, carrying out consultations under the auspices of the FAO is useful.

Defination given was identified for primary forests, which needs to include agro-forestry a world along ith existing defination since most of the Indian farming started with Shifting cultivation by people in ancient days causes reducing the forest land. Therefore redefine defination.

if you need help I will be available

2. Major issues missing is as indicted above missing of Agroforestry, which is tree plantation including fit for grazing of livestock/feed to enable to maintainable sustainable one.

In addition to this encourage the farmers who wanted to go for developing forestry/agroforestry to develop forestry consists of flora funa and predators. This will help out crubbing pests like Locusst/grasshoppers its control...

it preserves even rainharvessted water to be used as watersheds to incrreeasse the ground water levels.

encouraging local youth employment...

3.Methods of assesing area through Data -- 1. satalite data

2. local revenue staff /agricultural staff collected data -- this daata is more accuracy and involvess encourage the farmeers in the activity,,

4.Data which is more useful one the obtaining regional daata through local governments rather than use of satalite data. This data not only includes local area but also activities in the field along with beneficiery/s details also available ..

5. By bove to develop this an officer at junior /consultant will be appointed in the developing and developed countries and can coordinate and develop the full details on  the project and report with his remarks with impact. Guidliness will be given to such officrs how to evaluate and monitor it.


prof. Dr. K B Na Rayana

Jaipur national university and IAMMA



1. Is the FAO definition on primary forest (FAO, 2018) adequate to your national/regional/global assessment and reporting purposes? If not, what criteria would you like to add/remove from the FAO definition? No. All the relevant criteria are probably inccluded in the definition, but the definition is not operative

2. Perhaps not fully missing but species composition and dynamics is poorly discussed, as compared to canopy cover, for example.

3. NFI Field observations

4.In our case we should combine Remote Sensing data with the field data to consider spatial issues

5. By providing regionally more concrete criteria and thresholds


English translation below

1. Desde Uruguay se entiende el concepto y el alcance mundial de la definición planteada por FAO y la Convención sobre la Diversidad Biológica (CDB), estando de acuerdo en la mayor parte de la definición.

Para el caso de Uruguay existen características propias que han determinado el grado de conservación de los bosques. Una de las principales es que cerca del 90 % de los mismos, se encuentran asociados a establecimientos productivos agropecuarios lo que hace difícil encontrar bosques sin intervención humana.

Por lo tanto, compartimos el concepto de ESPACIO TEMPORAL SIN SUFRIR ALTERACION DE LOS MISMOS, y es por esto que se debería definir el período de tiempo a considerar, entendiendo que el mismo depende del tipo de bosque, el grado de alteración o intervención sufrido, su latitud y el poder de resiliencia. Consideramos que en ningún caso podría ser menor a 50 años. Dichos períodos deberían discutirse en los talleres regionales.

2.Creo que el mismo es lo suficiente extenso, como disparador de la discusión, los talleres regionales aportaran diferentes visiones.

3. Se utilizan los datos recabados en el Inventario Nacional Forestal y las diferentes cartografías históricas disponibles, los datos existentes en el registro nacional de Bosques y la experiencia y el conocimiento de especialistas nacionales referentes en estos temas (incluida la Universidad).

4. A nuestro entender cuanto más desagregados están los datos solicitados, se consigue más precisión en la información. Además, esto supone un autovalidación de la misma, lo que permite un mejor control.

Es decir, si se solicita, por ejemplo:

Áreas de bosques intervenidos o manejados recientemente.

Áreas de Bosques sin intervención y sin presencia de fuego en los últimos xxxx años

Áreas de bosques primarios

Áreas de bosques con manejo sostenible por comunidades indígenas.

Indirectamente estas reforzando el concepto de la categoría deseada.

5. FAO debe seguir en su empeño de mejorar la calidad de los datos, para ello recomendamos una mayor presencia in situ de sus técnicos, esto les permitirá entender la dinámica de los bosques y no tener percepciones teóricas o respuestas exclusivas de los corresponsales. Es necesario validar mejor la información.

Si bien se entiende el histórico planteo de que los reportes nacionales son elaborados por expertos nacionales, en algunos países hemos tenido la percepción de que la problemática de nuestros bosques, junto con aspectos sociales y políticos no siempre es comprendida por los organismos internacionales, lo que hace que la unificación de datos a nivel internacional sea una tarea compleja y que dista de la realidad.

Creemos importante la realización de talleres regionales de intercambio técnico que faciliten la comprensión de los distintos bosques y armonización de indicadores de bosques similares. Con esto no se está planteando realizar auditorias, sino ayudar en la validación y compilación de datos.

Una iniciativa de FAO que creemos correcta apoyar es la referida a la armonización de inventarios forestales según regiones, que actualmente está en proceso de formación de los grupos de trabajo, a la cual se le puede anexar la discusión de definiciones.

1. We understand the concept and global scope of the definition proposed by FAO and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and we agree with most of this definition.

In the case of Uruguay, several specific characteristics have determined the level of conservation of our forests. One of the main features is that nearly 90 percent of our forests host mixed farming, making it difficult to find forests in which there has been no human intervention. 

Therefore, we would like to share the following concept: TIME-BOUND UNALTERED AREAS. This requires defining the timespan under consideration: it will depend on the type of forest, the extent of its alterations/interventions (if any), its location (latitude) and its resilience, and should be -under no circumstances- shorter than 50 years. These periods should be discussed in the regional workshops.

2. The background paper is sufficiently exhaustive to trigger this discussion. Regional workshops will bring different views.

3. Data collected for the National Forest Inventory, different historical forest maps available, existing data from the National Forest Registry and knowledge and expertise of leading national experts in these topics -including the University- are used.

4. We believe that higher levels of disaggregation of the requested data produce more accurate information. Furthermore, this implies self-validating the information, enabling better control as a result.

For example, if the following data are requested:

Forest areas recently intervened or managed

Forest areas not intervened or affected by fire in the last xxx years

Primary forest areas

Forest areas sustainably managed by indigenous communities

Then, the concept behind the desired category is being -indirectly- reinforced.

5. FAO must continue its endeavours towards improving the quality of data. To this end, we recommend an increased presence of its technicians on the field: this will allow a better understanding forest dynamics, beyond theoretical perceptions or information provided exclusively by correspondents. The validation of the information should be improved.

Although we understand the historical approach suggesting national reports should be prepared by national experts, in some countries we believe that the challenges faced by our forests -along with other social and political aspects- are not always properly understood by international organizations, making data harmonisation at the international level a complex -and unrealistic- task.

Holding regional workshops to exchange technical information -facilitating as a result the understanding of the different forests and the harmonization of similar forest indicators- is deemed important. This proposal does not consist in conducting audits, but rather assisting data validation and compilation.  

We support a FAO initiative on the regional harmonization of forest inventories -currently in the process of establishing working groups, and which could also include the discussion about definitions.