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Providing Your Information to GFIS

GFIS is a CPF initiative which aims at providing easy access to forest information world-wide. Information is mainly retrieved from RSS feeds maintained by partners. If you want to promote your information through the GFIS gateway, you have the following two options:

Submit Your Feed

If you maintain RSS feeds on your website, you can create a GFIS account and submit your feeds via an account.

Submit Your Item

If you do not maintain RSS feeds, you can still add a single forest information item to the GFIS search by filling in the Submit Feed Form.


What is RSS?

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed for others. RSS allows aggregators, such as GFIS, on the Internet to view and use the information you provide from your website. RSS has become very popular and widely supported, providing the best way currently available to promote information from a website.

How to Create GFIS-Compatible RSS Feeds

RSS 2.0 is a simple, standardized XML file format which can be used to publish frequently updated content. Below is an example of what an RSS 2.0 feed looks like.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"? >
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="">
    <title>Your Feed</title>
      Short description about your organization
    <pubDate>Wed, 27 Apr 2011 06:16:00 GMT</pubDate>
      <title>This is the title of my item</title>
        Here is information you want others to know
      <pubDate>The date when the item was published</pubDate>         

Analyzing RSS Feed Elements

It may appear difficult at first, but when you view the code line-by-line, it becomes clearer. Below we examine some of the RSS feed elements from the code above and learn a bit more about each of them.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
The first line tells RSS readers what kind of file is that. Just like <HTML> tag in the HTML document, the very first line in RSS feed tells that it's an XML file. It can also declare the version of XML that is used on the feed and the encoding type for compatibility issues.

<rss version="2.0">
The second line is an opening tag of the whole website’s RSS feed. This piece of string declares feed readers what version an RSS feed is using. This tag is required.

The third line is a channel element. It tells how the following items relate to each other. Channels use items, descriptions and link tags to describe the content. It’s like an RSS feed headline.

The title element is the name of an item. Like the title for a web page, RSS title displays the necessary information to the human reader. It’s just like the title (subject) of an email message.

And finally there’s a link tag. This tag always contains the URL (link) of the web page where the article or any kind of news is displayed.

The description element describes the content of the item. It is usually a short phrase or sentence that tells reader about the content of message.

The date when the item was published presented in a certain way. Ex. Thu, 05 May 2011 12:30:00 GMT

Creating RSS feeds is not difficult; however there are certain rules you have to follow:
  • The feed must be created using the UTF-8 character set and the first line in the RSS feed (the XML declaration) must include the character set encoding definition.
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

  • The second line (the RSS 2.0 declaration) must contain the XML namespace definition if elements of the DCMI Element Set are used.
    <rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="">

  • The language used in the feed must match with the language used on the target resource.
  • Example: If creating feeds for news and events in two languages, four different feeds should be prepared, one news feed in English and one in Spanish, and one event feed in English and one in Spanish.
  • As soon as a feed has been created it can be validated at a feed validator

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GFIS Information Types

Current GFIS information types are the following:

  • News
  • Events
  • Publications
  • Job Vacancies
  • Education
  • Experts
  • Projects
  • Datasets and Databases
  • Videos

The required elements in a feed vary according to the information type. In the table below you can see all required elements for RSS feeds and the following examples will show you more specifically how to create feeds for different information types.

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Elements inside <item> needed for the GFIS information types

Information types that require this elementElementDescription and examples
AlltitleThe title of the item
AlldescriptionThe description of the item
AlllinkThe URL of the item
AllpubDateThe date when the item was published (RFC-822), eg. Tue, 13 Jun 2006 16:00:01 +0200
All (optional)categoryOne or more categories the item belongs to
  1. The date when the event starts (YYYY-MM-DD), e.g. start=2006-08-01;
  2. The date when the event ends (YYYY-MM-DD), e.g. end=2006-08-15;
  3. The location where the event is kept, please use values from the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names [TGN], e.g. spatial=Vienna, Austria;
Job Vacanciesdc:coverageThe date when a job application time will expire (YYYY-MM-DD), e.g. end=2006-08-15;
Publications (recommended)dc:creatorThis field is used to describe the person or organization responsible for creating the intellectual content of the publication.
Publications (recommended)dc:subjectThis field is used to describe the content of the resource using keywords and/or classification codes.

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News is any information about recent events or happenings in the field of international forestry. This can include, but is not limited to, information about forest resources, their users and institutions that are involved in forestry.

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An event is an activity where participants come together physically or in cyberspace and discuss one or several pre-set issues. An event is open for participants outside the hosting organization. The event may or may not be open to anyone interested. Events include, but are not limited to, exhibitions, on-line meetings, conferences and workshops.

Press-conferences, inaugurations or launching activities, courses and internal meetings are not counted as an event.

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A publication feed contains new issues which are available for a publication (e.g. journal, newspaper, or magazine). This is also a feed syndication for "content alert" type of feeds of various publishers of forestry journals and organizations publishing important policy documents.

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Job Vacancies

A job is a brief description of a post with specific terms of reference within the information provider institution. The announcement includes details of the closing date for applications.

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Education opportunity descriptions are created mainly by forest universities (courses, study, programmes, curricula and scholarships) but also other institutions offering forest education opportunities for a variety of purposes and with a variety of formalized or less formalized methods.

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An expert is someone normally recognized as a reliable source of knowledge, technique or skills in a domain. Person metadata is useful also to know the source or creator of information (responsible party). The details about a person may help to provide access to the original resource.

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Project descriptions are created by different institutions, or by different departments within institutions, for a variety of purposes and with a variety of formalized or less formalized methods. Project descriptions prepared by funding bodies differ from the descriptions available, for example, researchers looking for funding. The best solution in this case is to adapt one that best meets your requirement.

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Datasets and Databases


A dataset is information encoded in a defined structure (for example, lists, tables, databases), intended to be useful for direct machine processing. It is any resource that is a collection of pieces of data (raw or statistically analyzed). Also, a multi-dimensional array of data elements that is logically related, and arranged in a prescribed format. Datasets may be spatial (a collection of logically related features arranged in a prescribed manner, such as water features), or tabular/relational (a file, a spreadsheet, data in a table or relational database).

Elements in a dataset may include values, measures, points, coordinates, conditions, qualities, frequencies or attributes that are a result of an observational study.

Databases and Information Systems

A database is a collection of related information, organized and presented to serve a specific purpose, and which allows for rapid query and retrieval. It is a large collection of data in a computer, organized so that it can be expanded, updated, and retrieved rapidly for various uses.

A database allows a user to search records that are stored on a server. These records are created by some type of back-end software solution (examples are Access, SQL, and Oracle). Users can query against one or more record elements. Results are usually displayed as dynamic output.

By comparison, a search engine is searching Web pages (not database records) that match your query.

Database = Searchable records via a query interface
Web site = Searchable text of Web pages via a simple search box

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Videos are short productions conveyed through a digital medium which relates to specific topic or theme. An acceptable video feed will include videos which are related to the topic of forestry, forests and trees. A video RSS feed can be created through inserting a YouTube username into the below URL.

If you maintain a YouTube video playlist, a video RSS feed can be created through inserting the identification code of your YouTube playlist into the below URL.

Currently, GFIS is only accepting video feeds created in this manner.

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