Synthesis by H. Gyde Lund of concluding session for the conference

   Disasters (fires, drought, insect and disease) and catastrophic events
(earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc.) for any given area
are hopefully few and far between.  When considered on a world-wide basis,
however, such events occur with frightening frequency.  Disasters and
catastrophes not only immediately impact human lives and property, but when
they affect natural resources, can influence the stability of the local
economy over the long term.

   Any area can be hit by a catastrophe or disaster.  Therefore inventory
people may be called upon at any time to help assess the impact.  General
direction does not exist on how to assess damage from catastrophic events
quickly, and information in the literature is widely scattered.  Disasters and
catastrophes present unique challenges that go beyond traditional inventory
and monitoring techniques.  Information is needed rapidly, but lines of
communications are generally disrupted.  Gathering new information may require
considerable resourcefulness.

   Disasters may be "predicted" by long term monitoring programs (wetland
decrease, fuel buildup, insect buildup, etc.).  Catastrophes, on the other
hand, represent a rapid change in the resource base.  A prior inventory
against which impacts can be measured is of great benefit in both situations.
Specific events, however, will require different techniques depending upon the
context, quality of prior information/knowledge, available staffing, access
and equipment.


a.  We do not have all the information we need.  The participants felt that
    we need continued and increased formal communications among scientists
    and managers who have had to cope with catastrophic events so that
    experience on successes and failures may be exchanged more effectively.

b.  Several agencies have continuing responsibility for monitoring status and
    trends of natural resources.  Once status has been established, there is
    ample theory and empirical evidence to conclude that one or more networks
    of permanent points and/or plots form an optimal basis for accurate
    estimation of trends.  Such networks are invaluable when it becomes
    necessary to evaluate change, damage, etc. as the result of catastrophes
    or disasters.

c.  Participants also felt that there is need for development of some general
    guidance on how others can better deal with possible future events.

Preliminary recommendations

a.  To increase the exchange of information on the subject, IUFRO should
    create a new working party either under S 4.02 or 1.04.  This possiblity
    should be explored with the IUFRO Division Coordinator.

b.  If a working party is established, one of the first charges will be to
    develop a set of guidelines (not directions) that others can follow for
    specific situations.

c.  Agencies charged with estimation of status and trends of natural resources
    should be encouraged to maintain permanent plot networks for establishing
    trends of those resources.  It should be possible to develop pre- and
    post-event measurements of the plots when catastrophic impacts are to be

d.  The organizers of the Conference should prepare an article on the outcome
    of the meeting for publication in the Journal of Forestry.