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The North American Forest Database: going beyond national-level forest resource assessment statistics

  • W. Brad Smith
  • Rubí Angélica Cuenca Lara
  • Carina Edith Delgado Caballero
  • Carlos Isaías Godínez Valdivia
  • Joseph S. Kapron
  • Juan Carlos Leyva Reyes
  • Carmen Lourdes Meneses Tovar
  • Patrick D. Miles
  • Sonja N. OswaltEmail author
  • Mayra Ramírez Salgado
  • Xilong Alex Song
  • Graham Stinson
  • Sergio Armando Villela Gaytán
Article

Abstract

Forests cannot be managed sustainably without reliable data to inform decisions. National Forest Inventories (NFI) tend to report national statistics, with sub-national stratification based on domestic ecological classification systems. It is becoming increasingly important to be able to report statistics on ecosystems that span international borders, as global change and globalization expand stakeholders’ spheres of concern. The state of a transnational ecosystem can only be properly assessed by examining the entire ecosystem. In global forest resource assessments, it may be useful to break national statistics down by ecosystem, especially for large countries. The Inventory and Monitoring Working Group (IMWG) of the North American Forest Commission (NAFC) has begun developing a harmonized North American Forest Database (NAFD) for managing forest inventory data, enabling consistent, continental-scale forest assessment supporting ecosystem-level reporting and relational queries. The first iteration of the database contains data describing 1.9 billion ha, including 677.5 million ha of forest. Data harmonization is made challenging by the existence of definitions and methodologies tailored to suit national circumstances, emerging from each country’s professional forestry development. This paper reports the methods used to synchronize three national forest inventories, starting with a small suite of variables and attributes.

Keywords

Forest inventory Biometrics Global forestry Forest assessment North America 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Comisión Nacional Forestal Mexico, Natural Resources Canada, and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario, for their support of this effort. We also thank the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the North American Forestry Commission and Bureau of Alternates for their support. In addition, we are grateful to the data collection and information management staff of all three countries. We thank anonymous reviewers for their constructive critiques and helpful suggestions.

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Brad Smith
    • 1
  • Rubí Angélica Cuenca Lara
    • 2
  • Carina Edith Delgado Caballero
    • 2
  • Carlos Isaías Godínez Valdivia
    • 2
  • Joseph S. Kapron
    • 3
  • Juan Carlos Leyva Reyes
    • 2
  • Carmen Lourdes Meneses Tovar
    • 2
  • Patrick D. Miles
    • 4
  • Sonja N. Oswalt
    • 5
    Email author
  • Mayra Ramírez Salgado
    • 2
  • Xilong Alex Song
    • 6
  • Graham Stinson
    • 6
  • Sergio Armando Villela Gaytán
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis, National HeadquartersWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Comisión Nacional ForestalGerencia del Sistema Nacional de Monitoreo ForestalZapopanMexico
  3. 3.Ministry of Natural ResourcesPeterboroughCanada
  4. 4.USDA Forest Service Northern Research StationSt. PaulUSA
  5. 5.USDA Forest Service Southern Research StationKnoxvilleUSA
  6. 6.Natural Resources CanadaPacific Forestry CentreVictoriaCanada

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