4.02.06 - Resource data in the boreal and temperate regions


Svetlana Saarela, Norway


Laura Duncanson, United States

About Unit

Unit 4.02.06 is mainly concerned to foster experience and data exchange among researchers and managers (and others involved or interested) about inventory and monitoring of forest boreal and temperate ecosystems. Activities are carried out through informal discussions, meetings, and Conferences (preferably jointly with other IUFRO Units), and by drawing attention to research needs and gaps in existing knowledge.

Aiming at creating opportunities for researchers and practioners to meet and discuss scientific and practical knowledge that have been accumulated separately in many countries, the distinctive mission of this WU is to facilitate networking and focusing for the full range of statistical, theoretical, practical and management considerations in practices involving forest inventory and monitoring. Special emphasis is given to sustainable management of boreal and temperate forests by the acknowledgement that what cannot be measured in an objective and unbiased way cannot be effectively managed.

State of Knowledge

In the last decades, the conventional principles of forestry have undergone significant revisions in temperate and boreal countries. Environmental and other non-wood goods and services provided by forest ecosystems have gained significant importance to society, both in absolute terms and relative to wood production.
The change of paradigm has led to new management approaches. Against this background, a substantial increase of amount and sensitivity of information for decision making processes is required, compared to traditional practices: it is a matter of course that objective decisions need objective information.
Forest inventory and monitoring programs are a key element in providing objective information and are thus an essential element of any strategy for the management, conservation and sustainable development related to all types of boreal and temperate forests and the entire forest sector. Methods for data collection should provide cost-efficient, reliable, intuitively clear and consistent information for decision processes and satisfy today’s and future information needs.
The methodological opportunities and feasibility for programs focused on a comprehensive assessment of forest ecosystem attributes evolving into global environmental survey programs have been intensively studied, and are conceptually well shared throughout boreal and temperate countries. However, implementation in operational applications is still quite contradictory and fairly often not effective.
Although traditional forest variables have been found useful also for describing forests from many other perspectives than timber production, there is a need to find entirely new indicators.
Sampling frames have to be extended to areas outside forests and sampling designs have to be developed that widen the scope from timber production to the diverse functions and services provided by forests. Systems of nomenclature need to be implemented that capture the entire information potential and utilize indicators, modelling approaches and attributes that can directly be assessed within a comprehensive statutory framework driven by the ongoing national and international processes and programs. Including information on non-productive functions of forests in forest resource assessments renders the provision of spatially explicit data in mapped format necessary.

Hot Topics

  • Forest information services (fostering forest data availability and retrieval)
  • Harmonization of definitions and measurement systems
  • Incorporation of ecological and socio-economic attributes in forest inventories
  • Integration of statistical and mapped data