Assessment and monitoring of forest degradation



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Global Forest Resources Assessment
Forestry Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
Rome 00153 Italy                                  



Forest degradation is a serious problem. It impacts not only on carbon emissions and climate change. It also destroys habitats for plants and animals, results in soil erosion and siltation of rivers and streams and often destroys the livelihoods of poor forest dependent people. To address this, countries need to know where it is occurring, why, and at what level or how severe it is so that scarce resources can be allocated where they are most needed.


Countries need to be able to monitor the state of changes in forests so that they can develop management measures that lead to the restoration of degraded forest and the rehabilitation of degraded forest lands, as well as to report to international processes.


Members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) together with other partners are undertaking a special study on forest degradation to identify the parameters of forest degradation and the best practices for assessing them. The Measuring forest degradation brochure describes the challenge of measuring forest degradation and explains the special study in further detail.


A FAO working paper, Assessing forest degradation: towards the development of globally applicable guidelines, provides relevant agencies and other stakeholders with direction on measuring forest degradation, using four key criteria:

  • Growing stock and biomass
  • Biodiversity
  • Production of forest goods
  • Soil erosion