The need for better information.
A number of politicians and decision-makers are recognising the importance of sustainable development for the tropics. This means that regularly land-use surveys are necessary to get information's that are difficult and expensive to obtain with conventional land-based surveying expeditions. A pre-requisite for such sustainable development is the availability of reliable, complete and up-to-date information.
Often, however, the only maps available in those tropical countries are 30 years old. A number of states and international organisations have decided to set up monitoring infrastructures capable of identifying and controlling deforestation activities, which can have a serious impact on the environment, with heavy financial consequences. These monitoring infrastructures require timely and accurate data on: the location and extent of clearing-cutting activities, burning of forest areas, settlement patterns, land-use practices, such as shifting and permanent cultivation; differences in logging intensities within particular regions, illegal logging, etc. A complete knowledge of logging operations is essential. Statistics are needed to estimate the extent of areas involved, as well as areas subject to selective logging, in order to be able to monitor restocking and to assess the damage caused to the forest structure in addition to the timbers removal.