The National Forest Inventory (NFI) was established in 1988 by an Australian Government Cabinet decision, as an entity that enabled the calculation of nationally consistent and comprehensive attributes describing Australia’s forests. In 1992, the role of the NFI was endorsed in Australia’s National Forest Policy Statement, which was signed by all state and territory governments and the Australian Government.
The NFI is guided by a steering committee, the National Forest Inventory Steering Committee (NFISC), composed of members representing state, territory and Australian government agencies involved in forest information management. The NFI management team within the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) provides secretariat support to the NFISC.
The NFI aims to:
- be the authoritative source of agreed integrated national forest data delivering repeatable multiple values
- develop and promote the use of national standards and protocols for forest-related data collection and management
- provide forest information products to support forest related policy development, decision making, monitoring and reporting.
The NFI is therefore the key repository for a range of data about Australia’s forests. It is compiled from data supplied by state, territory and Australian government agencies and integrated into national classifications. The NFI is the key source of data for publicly communicating information about Australia's forests, including mandated national reporting requirements such as production of Australia’s State of the Forests Report.
Forest management agencies in Australia’s states and territories undertake the on-ground collection of forest data. Key data are then supplied to a small NFI management team within ABARES. The NFI management team performs core activities, including the collection, compilation, analysis and management of forest data, and the public communication of forest information.
The National Plantation Inventory (NPI) is a program of the NFI. Data on Australia’s industrial plantations are collected through an annual survey of growers, grower representatives and state and territory agencies. The survey records the total commercially managed plantation estate each year, and the area of commercially managed plantations newly established on land that had not previously been used for plantations. The NPI provides an annual update of industrial plantation areas in each state and territory, plantation log supply forecasts updated every five years, and other plantation information published by ABARES.
The collaborative arrangement between the state and territory governments and the Australian Government that underpins the NFI is mutually beneficial. The new and updated forest information produced from the NFI is used at regional, state and territory, national and international levels by governments, non-government organisations, industry and other stakeholders.