Forest biodiversity indicators; National forest inventories; COST Action E43; Harmonization techniques; Common international reference definitions
[en] The investigations of Working Group 3 of COST Action E43 focused on assessing the ability of NFI's to report harmonized estimates of forest biodiversity indicators using NFI data. Four related factors motivated the investigations. Firstly, the importance of forest biodiversity for the economic, environmental, and social well-being of earth's civilizations is gaining wide international acceptance. Secondly, this acceptance has led to numerous international forest sustainability and biodiversity agreements that require periodic reports of estimates of indicators. Thirdly, the ability to report comparable estimates is impeded by the variety of sampling designs, plot configurations, selected variables, and measurement protocols used by the NFIs of different countries. Fourthly, the features of individual NFIs have evolved in response to unique ecological, economic, topographic, and climatic characteristics, and desire of the individual countries to retain the features. The general conclusion of these motivating factors is that apart from substantial standardization of NFIs, the best method for facilitating comparable reporting is to develop harmonization methods. Working Group 3 undertook a four-phase approach to developing methods for harmonizing estimates of biodiversity indicators using NFI data. The first phase entailed evaluating the importance of biodiversity variables and the feasibility of assessing them using NFI data. The conclusion of this phase was the selection of 17 biodiversity variables that were both important and feasible, grouping of them into seven essential features, and construction of common reference definitions for the variables. The second phase entailed evaluation of the agreement among NFIs with respect to the common definitions and measurement practices. The third phase entailed development of bridges (Stahl et al submitted) for converting estimates of forest biodiversity indicators obtained using national definitions to estimates consistent with the reference definitions. The fourth phase entailed construction of a common database of NFI data contributed by NFIs participating in COST Action E43 and testing of reference definitions and bridges developed by Working Group 3. The following chapters provide details and specific results for the four phases.