FAO defines a natural forest in tropical and temperate developing countries as a forest composed primarily of indigenous (native) tree species. Natural forests include closed forest, where trees cover a high proportion of the ground and where grass does not form a continuous layer on the forest floor (e.g., broadleaved forests, coniferous forests, and bamboo forests), and open forest, which FAO defines as mixed forest/grasslands with at least 10 percent tree cover and a continuous grass layer on the forest floor. Developed areas do not have estimates for natural forest extent because of the difficulty in distinguishing natural forests from plantations in many countries. Natural forests in tropical and temperate developing countries encompass all stands except plantations and include stands that have been degraded to some degree by agriculture, fire, logging, and other factors. For all regions, trees are distinguished from shrubs on the basis of height. A mature tree has a single well-defined stem and is taller than 7 meters. A mature shrub is usually less than 7 meters tall. Forest areas in developed countries are not broken down into the subcategories of natural forests and plantations due to the difficulty in distinguishing the two in many countries. Total, percent and annual percent change all reflect the increase or decrease in natural forest cover between 1990 and 1995. Total change in natural forest cover, is the difference in extent of natural forest between 1990 and 1995 in thousands of hectares. Average annual percent change is shown as a percentage of the exponential growth rate. If negative, these figures reflect net deforestation, which is defined as the clearing of forest lands for all forms of agricultural uses (shifting cultivation, permanent agriculture and ranching) and for other land uses such as settlements, other infrastructure and mining. In tropical countries, this entails clearing that reduces tree crown cover to less than 10 percent. It should be noted, that deforestation, as defined here, does not reflect changes within the forest stand or site such as selective logging (unless the forest cover is permanently reduced to less than 10 percent). Such changes are termed forest degradation and they can substantially affect forests, forest soil, wildlife and its habitat, and the global carbon cycle. Thus, the effects from the reported deforestation figures may be less than the effects from the total deforestation that includes all types of forest alterations. Positive change figures reflect net afforestation within a country or region. FAO's forest assessments produce consistent estimates on forest status for common reference years (1990 and 1995) and forest area change for the periods between these years. The estimates are made using a model to adjust baseline forest inventory data from each country to the common reference years. This model correlates the share of forest cover for each subnational unit to population density and growth, initial forest extent, and ecological zone. Existing forest inventory data at national and subnational scales are reviewed, adjusted to a common set of classifications and concepts, and combined in a database. To accomplish this, FAO uses a geographic information system to integrate statistical and map data. The reliability of these modeled estimates hinges partly on the quality of the primary data sources feeding into the model. The variation in quality, comprehensiveness, and timeliness of the forest information is tremendous, and acute information deficits in regard to forest resources can easily be observed. Readers are encouraged to refer to the original sources and the latest country inventories that use satellite data or extensive ground data for estimates of forest cover and deforestation. FAO is currently finalizing the "Global Forest Resource Assessment 2000", which is expected to be published in the year 2000. This assessment is expected to contain country profiles on its forest resources for every country; as well as a new global overview and maps with forest cover and change. Readers are encouraged to check this new report at the FAO website: http://www.fao.org. Please refer to the original source for further information on the variables and collection methodologies.
FAOSTAT Forestry is an on-line database that provides access to estimates of the annual production of numerous forest products by country. For many forest products, historical data are available from 1961. Largely, the system provides access to estimates for wood products such as lumber, panels, pulp and paper. These estimates are provided by countries through an annual survey that FAO conducts in partnership with the International Tropical Timber Organisation, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and EUROSTAT (the Council for European Statistics). In the cases where countries have not provided information through the questionnaire, FAO estimates annual production based on trade journal reports, statistical yearbooks or other sources. Where data are not accessible, FAO repeats historical figures until new information is found. The system of production estimates for forest products is complemented by similar estimates for international trade in wood products. Total exports and imports by product category are available at the country level. For a number of product categories, this series stretches back to 1961. For a limited number of product categories in recent years, estimates of trade between countries (bilateral trade) are reported.
GEO Data Category:
Vegetation and Land Cover
Forest, natural extent, subregional level
Jaap Van Woerden
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Global Forest Resource
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+41 22 917 82 94
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GIS Data Info
Statistics Data Info
The data is only aggregated if at least 75 % of the observations are available (i.e. % of population or % of area or % of countries) on an annual basis.
The value "-9999" corresponds to "No Data"
Calculated pre 1991-1992 relative country share
Former Yugoslavia SFR:
Natural Forest is a forest composed of indigenous trees, and not classified as forest plantation
Forest plantation and natural forests are included in the term forest, a term that refers to land with a tree cover of more than 10 percent and area of more than 0.5 ha. Forests are determined both by the presence of trees and the absence of other predominant land uses. The trees should be able to reach a minimum height of 5 m. Young stands that have not yet reached, but are expected to reach, a crown density of 10m percent and tree height of 5 m are included under forest, as are temporarily unstocked areas. The term includes forests used for purposes of production, protection, multiple use or conservation (i.e. forest in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas), as well as forest stands on
agricultural lands (e.g. windbreaks and shelterbelts of trees with a width of more than 20 m) and rubberwood plantations and cork oak stands. The term specifically excludes stands of trees established primarily for agricultural production, for example fruit tree plantations. It also excludes trees planted in agroforestry systems.
Copyright c 2002 (Aggregations) United Nations Environment Programme/DEWA/GRID-Geneva.
Data aggregation made by Andrea DeBono and Ola Nordbeck (UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Geneva).