The Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) is a collaborative effort of forest-related institutions aiming to maximize the value of all forest information resources and providers worldwide through the sharing of forest-related information through
a single gateway.
GFIS promotes the dissemination and sharing of forest-related information and knowledge among the global forestry community by developing common information exchange standards, building capacity and enhancing partnerships among forestry information providers and users.
GFIS seeks to develop a system of partnerships with a variety of organizations to form an online community. Through a bottom-up approach, partners determine the volume, coverage and type of information they would like to share through GFIS. The underlying assumption behind the development of GFIS is that its partners share a common need for information sharing that is addressed most effectively through collaboration.
Goals of the initiative are to enhance access to all types of forest information, ensuring that it is accessible to governments and stakeholders, including researchers, forest managers, NGOs, community groups and the public at large. In addition, to contribute to an improved understanding of complex forest related issues, creating informed public engagement in forest policy and forest management at all levels leading to improved decision-making.
• Common standards for sharing forest-related information resources
• A system of web-based tools for information exchange and dissemination
• Networking and partnerships for sharing forest-related information
• Participation of information providers and users through capacity building measures
• Better visibility and recognition of information products
• Increased number of potential information users
• Closer cooperation and networking with global information providers and partners
• Convenient and user friendly accessible information portal
• Increased access to up-to-date global forest information
• Improved networking amongst forestry professionals
FIS is an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) - an interagency partnership of 14 major forest-related international organizations, institutions and convention secretariats. In the global policy context, the vision and mission of GFIS are consistent with the resolutions of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the priorities of the CPF. GFIS is led by IUFRO, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations; and the gateway is maintained by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
In 1998, the International Consultation on Research and Information Systems in Forestry which was held in Gmunden, Austria, recommended that the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) should endorse and promote the
development of a Global Forest Information Service to enhance access to all forest-related information, ensuring that it is accessible to all stakeholders including policy-makers, forest managers, non-governmental organizations, community groups and the public at large.
Consequently, the IFF requested Inter-agency Task Force on Forests member organizations to work with IUFRO in exploring possibilities for a global forest information service. In implementing this request, IUFRO initiated various activities to establish GFIS. These included the establishment of a GFIS Task Force, the development of a GFIS information server and web-interface as well as the implementation of the "GFIS Africa" project to strengthen institutional capacities in developing countries.
The first version of GFIS was presented at the IUFRO European Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in August 2002 and successfully demonstrated at the XII World Forestry Congress in Quebec, Canada, in September 2003. It included contributions from over 60 forestry institutions from all regions of the world.
In May 2004, the CPF agreed that GFIS should become a joint initiative. In response, IUFRO, the FAO, CIFOR and the UNFF laid the ground work for further development of GFIS as a joint CPF initiative which was approved September 2004 at the 13th Meeting of the CPF in New York.