Case Studies on Measuring and Assessing Forest Degradation Global Mapping and Monitoring the Extent of Forest Alteration: The Intact Forest Landscapes

The paper describes the Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) Method and presents results of its use for a global baseline assessment of the extent of forest alteration along with several examples of regional-level monitoring. The extent of forest alteration (understood in this context as a reduction in ecological integrity across a forest landscape) was measured at the global, biome and national levels based on the distribution and proportion of IFL areas. A detailed boundary between ‘intact’ and ‘non-intact’ forest landscapes was established and used as a baseline. The IFL method represents a practical, rapid, and cost-effective approach for assessing forest intactness, alteration and degradation at the global and regional scales.

In the context of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), IFLs are strongly associated with issues of permanence, biodiversity, and indigenous peoples. Countries that wish to make an early commitment under REDD that is capable of being monitored, verified, and reported may therefore find that the IFL Method offers interesting opportunities. The method can be elaborated to also measure the depth or intensity of forest alteration. It thus represents an approach that should be of interest to FAO’s Forest Resources Assessment, for example for monitoring of forest degradation.

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