Harmonization of National Forest Inventories in Europe: Advances under COST Action E43
A pan-European effort to harmonize national forest inventories (NFI) was initiated under COST Action E43, “Harmonisation of National Forest Inventories in Europe: Techniques for Common Reporting.” More than 30 countries and institutions, mainly from Europe, and multiple international institutions joined the Action, which was initiated in 2004. The main objective was to improve existing European NFIs by harmonizing information through development of and agreement on common inventory definitions. Other objectives were to support countries in the development of new sample-based forest inventories that satisfy national, European, and global requirements for timely, harmonized, and transparent forest resource information and to promote the use of scientifically sound and validated methods in forest inventory designs, data collection, and data analysis. The Action developed and agreed on “reference definitions” as the formal basis for harmonized reporting of general forest status and forest biodiversity to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. Complete or partial agreement was reached on 78 of 99 inventory-related definitions. Methods called bridges were developed to adjust an estimate based on a local or national definition to correspond to a reference definition. Forest inventory variables applicable as common biodiversity indicators were also identified. The objectives of this article were to describe the background of COST Action E43, to motivate the importance of the work, and to present the main approaches and achievements, as well as to discuss possibilities for harmonized estimation when inventory definitions vary. The article also serves as an introduction to the other COST Action E43 articles in this special issue of Forest Science.
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