A Southern Forester in Rome

The report Brandeis worked on will include forest resources of tropical islands like those of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Photo by Geoff Galice, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The report Brandeis worked on will include forest resources of tropical islands like those of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Photo by Geoff Galice, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Since the 1940s, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has coordinated a global Forest Resource Assessment every 5 to 10 years. The assessments describe the world’s forests and how they are changing, and include information about the health and diversity of each country’s forests, as well as their productivity, ecological value, and other factors.

In spring 2013, the FAO invited U.S. Forest Service researcher Tom Brandeis to use his specialized knowledge of forest inventory and forests of the Caribbean islands to help prepare the newest assessment, which will be completed in 2015. Brandeis helped prepare the 2005 and 2010 assessments, and is a supervisory research forester at the Forest Service Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis unit. Brandeis has also worked with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, where he coordinated the forest inventory in Puerto Rico and the re-measurement of long-term forest monitoring plots in El Yunque National Forest.

This past fall, Brandeis traveled to the Forest Resource Assessment program’s offices in Rome, Italy, where he spent three weeks preparing reports about the forests of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also completed desk studies for 14 countries that did not submit their own reports. Most of these countries are small islands, such as Guam which only covers 830 square miles, but dwarfs other island countries like Nauru, which covers just 8 square miles. Brandeis reviewed the reports for these countries as well as those submitted by Jamaica, New Zealand, and others.

“Working with the FAO on the assessment was a very positive experience,” says Brandeis. “I benefited from learning about forest resources and inventories from other countries, and the image of the Forest Service as a world leader in forest inventory methodology and expertise is enhanced when its personnel can assist with such globally important efforts.”

For more information email Tom Brandeis at tjbrandeis@fs.fed.us

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