The world’s forest area is about 4 billion hectares – roughly 30 percent of the global land area, an important fact that has come from over 60 years of global forest monitoring and assessment. With human population growing exponentially, the demand for forest products, such as wood, is rapidly rising, making monitoring an essential tool for planning for future sustainable supply. Forest monitoring provides a foundation for better planning, investment, management and evaluation of forest quality and extent.
Forests are monitored for various reasons, including gathering information to manage forests for timber production, watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, carbon storage and the provision of many other environmental services. Different methods can be used, in most cases combining field measurements and remote sensing data.
Land managers and policy makers must have reliable information on the forests they control or influence if they are to develop plans for their sustainable use and protection. Knowing how a forest is changed by a sudden insect infestation allows policy makers to measure the extent of damage so they can then plan for salvage and regeneration options and minimize the impact on local economies, or how forests are expected to be impacted in the long term by climate changes will allow them to select management practices to minimize the impact.
Read more on the Congress sub-theme “Monitoring forests for better decision-making”
Picture courtesy Simon Maina (FAO)