FAO Working Paper Addresses Issues on Assessing Trees Outside Forests

FAO2 April 2013: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) prepared a Working Paper, titled "Towards the Assessment of Trees Outside Forests," to assist in assessing trees outside forests as part of the Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) 2010. The objective of the report is to provide agencies responsible for the management and analysis of forests with tools, methodologies and case studies to better assess and monitor this resource.

The 345-page Resources Assessment Working Paper was authored by Hubert de Foresta, Eduardo Somarriba, August Temu, Désirée Boulanger, Hélène Feuilly and Michelle Gauthier. It highlights the importance of trees outside forests in providing food and sources of income, and in supporting biodiversity. However, despite their importance, the paper states that such trees are often excluded from assessments of forests and forest resources. This is, in part, due to confusion over the definition of trees outside forests including ambiguities concerning shifting cultivation, rubber plantations, linear tree formations (such as windbreaks and living fences), agro-forestry and urban trees.

Discussions in the paper are organized around seven themes on trees outside forests that are linked to the FRA themes: extent of resources, biological diversity, health and vitality, productive functions, protective functions, socio-economic functions, and legal, policy and institutional framework.

The paper presents four key recommendations: that countries should carry out an assessment of trees outside forests based on the methods suggested in the report; the role that the FAO-FRA should play in assessing and reporting on trees outside forests; that in preparation for FRA-2015, definitions related to trees outside forests should be clarified; and that a clear way forward should be developed for assessments of trees outside forests including through workshops on the main report themes and by establishing a step by step agenda to meet global objectives. [Publication: Towards the Assessment of Trees Outside Forests]