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The choices made today will shape the future of forests and forestry. FAO's programme of outlook studies seeks to identify the range of outcomes, and implications for forestry, that may arise from actions taken today. In an "outlook study," FAO and its member countries identify a range of possible choices and options for action that could assist countries in achieving their goals for forests and the forestry sector. Emphasis is placed on actively shaping the future of our forests based on policies implemented and investments made today.

An outlook study attempts to analyse information and statistical data to describe or outline a possible future. The attempt is to build coherent pictures of what the future might look like depending on the choices made today. This study forms part of a series of processes of outlook studies carried out by FAO in different regions of the world in collaboration with member countries and relevant actors in the private sector, non-governmental organizations and other institutions involved in the forest sector of each region.

The Latin American Forestry Sector Outlook Study (LAFSOS) has been carried out in response to a recommendation of the countries of the region in the Twenty-first Session of the Latin American and the Caribbean Forestry Commission (LACFC). The activities began in May 2002 and will continue to be developed until 2004. In the Latin American and Caribbean region, LAFSOS aims to be an important tool together with other processes for strategic planning, in particular to National Forest Programmes.

This working paper has been elaborated within the LAFSOS framework, which objective was to collect and analyse socio-economic information about selected countries in the Latin American region and discuss the implications of future socio-economic developments for the future development of the forestry sector in the region.

Wulf Killmann
Forest Products and Economics Division
Forestry Department

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