Harmonizing forest-related definitions

©FAO/Chris Mole

The process to harmonize forest-related definitions is closely linked to the activities of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). The definitions included are highly relevant to the Global Forest Resources Assessment. 

FAO, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) jointly organized the first Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-related Definitions for Use by Various Stakeholders, which was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome on 23-25 January 2002. The meeting started a process which aims to achieve more consistency in the use of forest-related definitions, thus contributing to reducing reporting requirements and respective costs for countries, as well as facilitating communication and negotiation between international conventions, processes and instruments. The meeting recommended, inter alia, establishing a Task Group; preparing a comprehensive analytical framework; and organizing another expert meeting to review the framework and decide on further action.

The Second Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-related Definitions for Use by Various Stakeholders reiterated the need for a common understanding of, and harmonization between, forest-related definitions of core terms used by different international processes and instruments. This would reduce errors in employing terms; the reporting burden on countries and related costs; and the confusion in communicating with the media and the public at large. It recommended wide dissemination and use of the comparative analytical framework of forest-related definitions between international processes, which was developed during this definitions process.

At The Third Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-related Definitions for Use by Various Stakeholders, there was general, although not unanimous, agreement on the working definitions of natural forest, planted forest, and forest plantation, which is a subset of planted forest. The meeting also reached general agreement on a working definition of forest management. It was recognized, however, that the concept of managed/unmanaged forests adopted in the climate change regime is broader than the one traditionally used in the forestry community.