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In this blog forest professionals around the world share their ideas and experiences on forest information management and sharing with the global forestry community. Besides the blog posts you can find GFIS workshop material here.


Challenges in sharing forest information today, WFC2009, Buenos Aires

Challenges in sharing forest information today - Retos en el intercambio de información forestal hoy, Tuesday 20th October at the World Forest Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The event which was organized by IUFRO and sponsored by ITTO and USFS aimed to present how forest information is shared today and find ways to develop co-operative platforms to improve forest information dissemination and use for tomorrow.

Presentations given:

  • How CAF manages and shares forest information to its audience, Prof. Dr.Li Zhiyong (Chinese Academy of Forestry, China)
  • The role of Institutions in channeling forest information, Robert Bakiika (Department of Forest Products Engineering. Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation. Makerere University, Uganda)
  • Esfuerzos de la FAO en el establecimiento de redes de bibliotecas, Vanda Ferreira dos Santos. (FAO, Italy)
  • Modelo de integración: Sacando provecho de las bibliotecas de América Latina y el Caribe, Federico Sancho (IICA Costa, Rica).
  • Future development of the GFIS gateway, response to users' and partners' feedback, Eero Mikkola (IUFRO, Finland)

Prof Li Zhiyong described the highly integrated information services provided by the Chinese Academy of Forestry to the education, sci/tech, public and commercial sectors A portal provides access to numerous resources through interfaces targeted to specific users. Uploading and processing services are provided, together with real-time document delivery. Future developments will include improved remote interrogation, cross searching, consultancy and personalized services. CAF plans collaboration with GFIS and the wider international community to build its resource base.

Robert Bakiika described the Ugandan situation, where seven sectors share responsibility for forests. Community knowledge centres are needed to capture local expertise, often lost when local experts die, developing skills in documenting and disseminating indigenous knowledge, frequently more effective and relevant than external sources. The wishes of local communities must sometimes override funder's priorities. Future challenges include improving support for print libraries, as e-materials are often not usable, and raising information literacy by support for generating, sharing, publishing and using information with local relevance.

Vanda Ferreira dos Santos described library networks supported by FAO in Central American countries, designed to help raise information management skills and re-activate libraries that have become little more than repositories for unwanted books. Physical resources have a higher priority than electronic as they can be made more widely accessible in underprivileged communities. Training programmes aim to develop skills in disseminating and preserving information, both physical and digital. Future challenges include funding to support networking forestry libraries across Central America and other continents for development.

Federico Sancho noted that despite challenges, including lack of connectivity and sound structures, lack of understanding of technology, and budgetary restraints leading to library closures, catalogue automation is well advanced, allowing resource discovery across Latin America and the Caribbean. Digitization of institutional publications has been greatly aided by participation in the Google books project. Google indexing has generated a quantum leap in hits on the SIDALC web site. Future challenges include development of effective uses for Web 2.0 tools, RSS feeds etc, in development of unhindered access to information for all.

Eero Mikkola described progress in development of the GFIS gateway, which provides a simple way for institutions to share news, events, research information etc. 170 information providers now contribute. The next release of GFIS will include additional categories including educational resources, projects, and experts. Recent developments include the use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging for networking and sharing information.


  1. Devise mechanisms to capture local, community knowledge as a valuable information resource to enrich global forestry knowledge and potentially improve decision making and science.
  2. Immediately establish an informal virtual forum for continuing discussion of improved global networking and advocacy for the critical importance of forestry information and its adequate funding.
  3. Identify effective activists to explore practical solutions in building sustainable global networks
  4. Generate proposals for formal discussion at international level, targeting initially IUFRO World Congress 2010 in Seoul. 


Roger Mills and Eero Mikkola


 Zhiyong CAF - WFC2009 - pdf
Robert - WFC2009 - pdf
Vanda - FAO - pdf
Frederico II - WFC2009 - pdf
Eero_WFC2009 - pdf


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