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The Global Marketplace for Forest Information. History of GFIS. 1998: ICRIS Meeting (IFF country-lead initiative Indonesia/Austria) Establishment of a IUFRO Task Force 1999: Initital technical concept aiming at a GFIS prototype 2000: Establishment of IUFRO‘s Special Programme GFIS

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The Global Marketplace for Forest Information

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history of gfis
History of GFIS
  • 1998:
    • ICRIS Meeting (IFF country-lead initiative Indonesia/Austria)
    • Establishment of a IUFRO Task Force
  • 1999:
    • Initital technical concept aiming at a GFIS prototype
  • 2000:
    • Establishment of IUFRO‘s Special Programme GFIS
    • GFIS Africa Project
  • 2001:
    • Establishment of 5 GFIS Service Centres in Africa
  • 2002:
    • Initial efforts in Asia (CIFOR) and Latin America (Embrapa)
    • First international presentation of GFIS (Copenhagen)
  • 2003:
    • GFIS Consortium (International Steering Group
    • Presentation of a GFIS functional prototype service at the World Forestry Congress, Quebec City (September 2003)
    • Termination of the IUFRO Task Force on GFIS
what is gfis
What is GFIS?
  • GFIS is an Internet gateway to forest information resources from around the world. Users can locate maps, datasets, web resources, journal articles, books and other resources relevant to their information needs.

A federationof people and forest information resources connected through technology, expertise and interests.

what is in gfis

Source: Krehan, Department of Forest Protection, BFW

12/2000Fire Atlas AfricaSource: esa ESRIN

Source: Schnabel, Department of Forest Growth, BFW

What is in GFIS?

Access to…



Grey Literature





Research Reports



  • Silviculture
  • Physiology and Genetics
  • Forest Operations and Techniques
  • Inventory, Growth and Yield
  • Forest Products
  • Social, Economic, Information and Policy Sciences
  • Forest Health
  • Forest
  • Environment
  • Over 100,000 catalogue records are currently available through GFIS from
  • 50 organisations located in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.
  • This pool of reference data is the starting point for a continuously expanding service eventually providing links to all information resources worldwide.

who needs gfis

…and GFIS Users







Finding Solutions

Making Decisions

GFIS Providers …








Who needs GFIS?

GFIS community:

Scientists, decision-makers, forest managers, industries, information specialists, educators, NGOs, general public

gfis a distributed system
GFIS: A Distributed System

GFIS is a distributed system whereby participating organisations remain responsible for the generation and maintenance of their information content.

GFIS enables users to locate that content and, where appropriate, access it through GFIS Service Centres or from the information provider directly.

gfis information server
GFIS Information Server

The GFIS information server is the central technical component of GFIS. It collects GFIS metadata from the Service Centres, thus enabling global searching.

The server facilitates search services, such as multi-host searching, z39.50 services, and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Thus, it enables global interoperability searching.

data information object do
Data/Information Object (DO)

Data/Information Objects are the items that the user wants to find through metadata searching. These items have different content, spatial and temporal scales, format and other attributes specific to each object and database.


Metadata are data about data. Each metadata item is used to describe a data/information object. The GFIS metadata definition is based on the Dublin Core metadata standard.


Why GFIS needs a thesaurus…

  • Information experts have found that better consistency is obtained if standards are used for controlling the terms in an information repository. The use of consistent terms by both contributors and users helps to improve the chances of users locating all documents relevant to their interest within the GFIS system.
  • A multilingual thesaurus:
    • Allows users to search on keywords in their own language;
    • Allows indexers to assign keywords in their own language;
    • Describes each concept with a keyword in each language;
    • Provides a systematic display of the descriptors, simplifying navigation through the terminology;
    • Facilitates development of closely-focussed search strategies

What is a Multilingual Forestry Thesaurus?

A thesaurus is a hierarchical controlled vocabulary, meaning that the terms within the vocabulary are somehow related to each other. A multilingual forestry thesaurus contains terms that are used in the forestry domain in as many languages as the stakeholders deem appropriate.


This is an example, taken from the GEneral Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET):

afforestationBAQ: oihaneztatze; oihantze; baso-sartzeBUL: ЗалесяванеDAN: tilplantningDUT: bosaanplantingUSA: afforestationFIN: metsitys, metsän istuttaminenFRE: boisementGER: AufforstungGRE: αναδάσωσηHUN: erdosítésITA: forestazioneNOR: skogreisningPOR: florestaçãoRUS: облесениеSLO: zalesňovanieSLV: pogozdovanjeSPA: repoblación forestalSVE: skogsodling; skogsplanteringDefinition: 1) Establishment of a new forest by seeding or planting of nonforested land. 2) The planting of trees on land which was previously used for other uses than forestry. 3) The planting of trees in an area, or the management of an area to allow trees to regenerate or colonize naturally, in order to produce a forest. (Source: MGH / WRIGHT / ALL) Broader Terms: forestry Narrower Terms: reforestation,local afforestation


Words, words, words….

In a collaborative project with major stakeholders, GFIS proposes to develop a multilingual forestry thesaurus whereby different terminologies can be linked.

gfis information provider
GFIS Information Provider

A GFIS Information Provider is an institution or individual that collects and maintains forest-related information and accompanying metadata that meet the criteria of the GFIS collection policy. Providers submit metadata records through GFIS Service Centres. To be integrated to GFIS system, the metadata can be converted to GFIS-Dublin Core metadata by using GFIS conversion tool.

gfis service centre
GFIS Service Centre

The GFIS Service Centre is a GFIS partner institution that collects, maintains and manages GFIS metadata submitted by information provider(s) or others. Service Centres may also collect information about information providers, organizations, events and activities within their region.

gfis organisation
GFIS Organisation
  • GFIS Consortium
  • Interim GFIS Steering Group
  • GFIS Management Unit
  • GFIS Service Centres
  • GFIS Information Providers
case study using gfis for forest plantation management

Case Study: Using GFIS for Forest Plantation Management

A forest plantation manager in Ghana is interested in growing an indigenous species and is seeking information on site conditions required for Milicia excelsa, commonly known as Odum, Mvule and Iroko. Milicia is considered to be the most useful timber species in Africa.

the gfis principles i
The GFIS Principles I
  • To promote accessibility, credibility, quality and permanence of forest information, GFIS adheres to the following principles:
  • GFIS emphasizes partnerships, cross-sectoral and international, to develop skills, for technology transfer, and to maximize the value of all forest information resources and providers, worldwide.
  • Visibility of global forest information through GFIS is simple, equitable and timely for all.
the gfis principles ii
The GFIS Principles II
  • Agreed standards are followed to ensure that a consistent level of quality and relevance is achieved to serve the needs of GFIS users.
  • The protection of intellectual property rights, confidentiality and security is held in the highest regard.
  • As a global network of distributed information resources, GFIS information providing organizations maintain full identity throughout the search and retrieval process and retain managerial control of their information.