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Environmental and social services of forests

The environmental and social services of forests and trees include, among others, the conservation of biological diversity, carbon storage and sequestration for mitigation of global climate change, soil and water conservation, provision of employment and recreational opportunities, enhancement of agricultural production systems, improvement of urban and peri-urban living conditions and protection of natural and cultural heritage. These services have received increasing emphasis and, in some cases, global legal commitment since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

The following section focuses on environmental and social services provided by forests and trees in fragile and/or marginal ecosystems: in drylands, on mountains and in small island states. A second major topic discussed below is the role of forests in mitigating global climate change, a subject given greater prominence with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) in 1997.


The three post-UNCED conventions - FCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) - are relevant to some of the environmental services of forests (see Part III for more detail). Concern for the conservation of biological diversity, which arose in the 1980s and has been strongly voiced by the public, NGOs and the media in many countries, has focused attention mainly on moist tropical forests (extending more recently to temperate and boreal forests) and has influenced much of the debate surrounding forest management. UNCED's Agenda 21 and the three conventions, by giving greater importance to a range of environmental and social functions of all forests, have been instrumental in widening the focus from moist tropical forests to include forests and trees in "fragile ecosystems", including drylands and mountains (covered by Agenda 21's Chapters 12 and 13, respectively). Small island ecosystems were not made the subject of a chapter of Agenda 21, but the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, which was developed in 1994, provides a similar international framework for action.

Although forests in arid zones, in some mountain areas and on small islands generally have lower economic value in terms of timber resources than do humid lowland forests, they often have high environmental and social importance at the local level. These environmentally fragile areas tend to be isolated and economically marginalized. Under such conditions, people generally have a relatively high dependence on local forest resources for various goods.

Greater international emphasis on fragile ecosystems and on social and environmental aspects of the forest sector has resulted in an elevated awareness of the importance of trees outside forests (e.g. trees in agricultural lands, those scattered in the rural landscape and those located in urban and peri-urban environments). These resources have often been overlooked because forests have tended to dominate the attention of national forest administrations, have driven much of the international forest debate in the past and have captured the public attention in many countries.

Mountain forests: freshwater resources and other environmental benefits

Mountains occupy one-fifth of the world's land surface and are home to one-tenth of the world's population (Messerli and Ives, 1997). Large areas of the world's mountain and upland areas are covered by forest. These forests have local, regional and in some cases global value as sources of water supplies, centres of biological diversity, providers of a range of wood and non-wood products, sites for recreation and stabilizers of land against erosion.

Global concern over water resources - reflected in the choice of "Strategic approaches to freshwater management" as the theme for the sixth session of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development in July 1998 - stems from the fact that inadequate and unsafe water supplies are aggravating problems of ill health and food insecurity among increasing numbers of people worldwide. It is predicted that by 2025 as much as one-third of the world's population may suffer from water shortages (Lininger, Weingartner and Grosjean, 1998).

Mountain catchment areas have a critical role in hydrology. Mountains, which have higher levels of precipitation and (particularly cloud forests) capture atmospheric water more effectively than lowland areas, are the source of more than half of the world's freshwater and supply all the world's major rivers and many smaller ones. Mountains provide critical storage of freshwater in lakes, wetlands and reservoirs and in winter as ice and snow, which is later released to rivers and streams. Many streams would cease to flow altogether during the dry season if their headwaters did not supply this delayed flow. In semi-arid and arid regions over 90 percent of river flow comes from the mountains. Although the alpine catchment of the Rhine River occupies only 11 percent of the river basin, it supplies 31 percent of the annual flow and more than 50 percent of the summer flow (Price, 1998).

Mountain ecosystems are important globally as centres of biological diversity. The greatest diversity of vascular plant species is found in mountains, notably in Costa Rica, the tropical eastern Andes, the Atlantic forest of Brazil, the eastern Himalayan-Yunnan region, northern Borneo and Papua New Guinea (Barthlott, Lauer and Placke, 1996). Other important centres are found in arid subtropical mountains. Many of these areas are included in national protected area systems. Several are also biosphere reserves under the Man and the Biosphere Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Major land cover and land use changes are occurring in mountains and highlands throughout the world. Mountain areas in many developing countries are characterized by a high rate of population increase and resulting land scarcity, poverty and natural resource degradation. The rate of deforestation and the degree of forest degradation of these mountain areas are considerable. While deforestation of tropical rain forests remains the focus of public attention, tropical upland forests had the highest rate of deforestation of any biome - 1.1 percent per year - between 1980 and 1990 (FAO, 1995). Rates of clearing are particularly high in Central America, East and Central Africa, Southeast Asia and the Andes. While deforestation in and of itself does not imply increased erosion, the risk is likely to be higher if it is followed (as it often is) by inappropriate land management (including poor cultivation practices), insufficient vegetative cover and/or lack of appropriate mechanical soil protection measures. Decreased tree and forest cover can also contribute to shortages of fuelwood and other wood and non-wood forest products.

The general trend in developed countries over the past several decades has largely been in the opposite direction: mountain communities are undergoing depopulation as people move to cities or elsewhere for better employment opportunities. In some places, permanent residents have been replaced with owners of second homes. Mountain areas abandoned by people and taken out of agriculture are often recolonized by trees and shrubs. In many places the management objectives of mountain forests are changing. Less emphasis is placed on production of wood and non-wood products for local use, and more on recreation and nature conservation. These forests have new management and protection needs.

Valuation of watershed protection and other environmental services can help illustrate the economic importance of mountain areas and lend support for financing conservation and sustainable development efforts in mountain areas. An environmental valuation study revealed that the Sierra Nevada ecosystem in the United States produces commodities and services valued at about US$2 200 million annually, of which 61 percent comprises water resources. Yet only minor investment is made in the mountain ecosystem to ensure continued supply of these goods and services.

Reaching an equitable balance in the distribution of the costs and the benefits of watershed protection is not easy. Upland dwellers almost always bear most of the costs of protecting upland forests for the benefit of downstream water users. To help rectify this imbalance, a number of upstream-downstream partnerships and mechanisms to channel resources from lowland to upland areas are being developed in various places around the world (Preston, 1997). For example, the United States Department of Agriculture and the City of New York have recently announced a watershed protection programme which will provide funds for farmers to implement watershed protection measures in an effort to improve the quality of the New York City water supply (see Box 9). In Chile, individuals are granted perpetual, irreversible and freely tradable water use rights independent of landownership and use, based on which an active market for water rights has arisen. Other innovative mechanisms tried elsewhere include improved tenure rights and user fees.


New steps to protect New York City's drinking water

The United States Department of Agriculture and the city of New York together will provide US$10.4 million to pay farmers to retire over 1 200 ha of highly eroded cropland and to establish 800 ha of forest to protect over 250 km of streams north of the city. The New York City water system is one of the largest in the world, serving more than 9 million people. It is supplied by a reservoir system covering more than 400 000 ha. The government plan has been launched in an effort to avoid having to build a water filtration plant for the city, which would cost up to US$8 000 million to build and $1 000 million a day to operate.

Source: Reuters News Service, 8 August 1998.

Mountain issues have gained increased visibility and support in recent years through a range of international, regional and national initiatives.22 Mountains are represented in the global agenda through Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, "Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development". The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) recently adopted a resolution to proclaim the year 2002 as the International Year of the Mountains, a resolution expected to be approved by the United Nations General Assembly at the end of 1998. The fourth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1998 decided to include mountain ecosystems as a thematic issue for the seventh Conference of the Parties in 2001. At the regional level, many intergovernmental, NGO and technical meetings on sustainable mountain development have recently taken place. Despite these positive developments, the achievement of sustainable mountain development will ultimately depend on concerted efforts at the national and local levels. Several countries have been focusing to a greater extent on conservation and development needs in mountain ecosystems, taking a more integrated approach to mountain development and using participatory approaches in managing the natural resources. These approaches appear to be providing a sound foundation for future efforts to achieve sustainable mountain development.

Dryland forests and trees

While most dryland forests have relatively low potential for timber production, dryland trees and forests furnish a wide range of wood and non-wood products which are vital for local populations and provide many important environmental services. Because most of the products are collected for household use or for sale in local markets, their significance is often underestimated and insufficiently addressed by national policies and programmes. Dryland trees and forests provide fuelwood and small roundwood (e.g. poles, house frames, handles) and a range of non-wood products, including foods, medicinal products, raw material for handicrafts, bushmeat and fodder. Among the many environmental services they provide, the most critical in many places are soil conservation (i.e. protection against erosion and maintenance of fertility), shelter against wind and shade.

Much of the early attention on dryland forests, dating from the early 1970s, was focused on fuelwood needs. Concerns about fuelwood supplies for both rural and urban populations led to the establishment of fuelwood plantations in many developing countries. Poor results, however, caused a subsequent shift in strategy for meeting fuelwood demands away from plantations and towards improved management of existing forest and tree resources (including encouragement of natural and assisted regeneration). Other more recent trends include greater emphasis on multiple use management for various wood and non-wood products throughout the world; agroforestry development, both crop- and animal-based systems (in Australia, China and India, for example); consolidation of participatory forest management models (e.g. Burkina Faso, the Gambia and Mali); and support for production and marketing cooperatives for fuelwood and poles (e.g. Burkina Faso, India, the Niger). These approaches have increasingly been institutionalized and a legal basis for participatory management of dryland resources has been strengthened in many countries. Several governments have been transferring responsibility for forest management to populations and private partners while maintaining an oversight role. Security of land and tree tenure and access to common property resources, including silvipastoral resources, have been recognized as critical issues.

FAO, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences and the International Cooperation Centre on Agrarian Research for Development (CIRAD-Forêt), in cooperation with many experts from Africa, Asia and Latin America, have documented the situation and latest developments in natural dryland forest management (FAO, 1997f). The publication reviews the biological and ecological conditions of natural dryland forests in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the processes affecting them. It examines the silviculture and management techniques that are, or can be, used to conserve and develop them. Various participatory models used for involving local communities in forest resources management and efforts to provide the communities with organizational and marketing support are also discussed.

The results of this study were discussed, along with other issues related to dryland conservation and forest management, at the International Expert Consultation on the Role of Forestry in Combating Desertification, a satellite meeting of the eleventh World Forestry Congress (see Part III). The meeting recognized the need to continue gathering basic information on the status and management of dryland forest resources, to adapt management approaches to changes brought about by democratization and decentralization and to provide support to help local communities manage and benefit from these forest resources.

Management of dryland forest and tree resources continues to receive significant attention at the national level and through international efforts, including the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) as well as the Convention to Combat Desertification (see Part III). An expert meeting on rehabilitation of degraded forest ecosystems was held in Lisbon, Portugal in June 1996 in response to IPF's recommendation that dryland forest-related issues be further examined. The meeting made recommendations concerning the needs for a supportive policy framework, clear and simple technical packages, environmental planning and precautions and adoption of participatory approaches to resource management. The results of the meeting provided input to the IPF report Fragile ecosystems affected by desertification and the impact of air-borne pollution on forests (IPF, 1996) and were reflected in IPF's subsequent proposals for action. The second session of IFF (Geneva, Switzerland, 24 August to 4 September 1998) reviewed progress in implementing IPF's proposals for action, including those related to fragile ecosystems affected by desertification and drought and those regarding countries with low forest cover.

Participatory methods promoted by UNCCD and the partnerships among populations, local and national governments, NGOs and the donor community provide important opportunities to ensure that ecological and social services in drylands are considered in efforts to combat desertification. Forest conservation and development, agroforestry and vegetative methods of soil and water conservation have been included in most of the national planning exercises to launch implementation of UNCCD. Strong recommendations have been made to coordinate UNCCD implementation and the recommendations of IPF regarding the restoration of degraded forest ecosystems and initiatives in countries of low forest cover. Expected future developments will certainly confirm further integration of forest activities in desertification control, strengthen the synergy between the IPF and IFF processes and the implementation of UNCCD and help reinforce links among various international frameworks dealing with natural resources management in dry areas.

Role of forests and trees in small island States

Attention to small island States has increased substantially since the early 1990s. Small island States were given an international political identity with the establishment of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in 1991.23 The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in April 1994, resulted in the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. A comprehensive review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme is currently under way, and the results are to be presented at a UN General Assembly Special Session in 1999. Other events in 1999 will include a donor conference with UNDP and AOSIS in February and a Special Conference at Ministerial Level for Small Island Developing States organized by FAO in March. The latter conference will focus on the development of a Plan of Action, as follow-up to UNCED and the World Food Summit, and on issues related to the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

While forest cover on the 52 small island States and dependent territories24 is insignificant in global terms (representing less than 1 percent of the forest area of the world), forests and trees on these islands are extremely important for the well-being of the local inhabitants. In addition, forest resources on several islands have global significance for the conservation of biological diversity.

As a group, the small island States and territories are relatively well endowed with forests (see Table 5 for regional figures and Tables 2 and 3 of Annex 3 for country figures). In 1995 it was estimated that forests covered 34 percent of the total land area of these islands, compared with the world average of 26 percent. Within the group there is a great deal of variability; forest cover ranges from over 70 percent of land area in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to under 10 percent in many of the smaller States and territories - particularly in Oceania and Africa - and less than 1 percent in Haiti. Although average forest cover is relatively high, the annual deforestation rate from 1990 to 1995 was almost three times higher than the world average (0.8 percent compared with 0.3 percent). The highest rates of deforestation between 1990 and 1995 were found in various Caribbean islands and in the Comoros. The main causes of deforestation included conversion of forested land for agricultural use and for infrastructure development. Some heavily forested countries in the South Pacific are experiencing significant forest degradation because of heavy exploitation of timber resources (FAO, 1997g). Deforestation and forest degradation affect not only the socio-economic well-being of local populations, but the environmental conditions on the islands and in surrounding marine ecosystems.


Land and forest area of small island States and dependent territories



Total forest 1995


Change in forest cover 1990-1995


Land area (thousand ha)

(thousand ha)

(% of land area)

Total forest 1990 (thousand ha)

Total change 1990-1995 (thousand ha)

Annual change (thousand ha)

Annual change rate (%)


1 251
















8 767

4 964


5 054




Europe and Near Eastd








North and Central Americae

11 878

2 583


2 856




Total, small islands

22 945

7 909


8 244




Total, world

13 048 410

3 454 382


3 510 728

-56 346

-11 269


Note: See Tables 2 and 3 of Annex 3 for data on individual countries. The regional breakdown is consistent with FAO's WAICENT geographical categories.
a Cape Verde, Comoros, Mauritius, Réunion, Sao Tome and Principe, Saint Helena, Seychelles.
b Macau, Maldives, Singapore.
c American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Vanuatu.
d Cyprus, Malta.
e Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Monserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States Virgin Islands.


Only a few small island States and dependent territories (Solomon Islands and Fiji, and to a lesser extent Jamaica and Vanuatu) produce and export industrial roundwood or processed wood products in significant quantities.25 Many of the islands, however, have a high degree of dependence on forests for a variety of wood and non-wood products for household use. This is the case particularly of the more isolated island States, in Oceania for example, where physical and economic access to imported goods is limited.

The environmental functions of forests and trees in most of the small island States and dependent territories by far outweigh their production value. Small islands, though otherwise extremely diverse, all have a high ratio of coastline to land area and relatively short distances between the uplands and the coast. The strong dynamic between the land and the sea defines some of the most important environmental services of forests on these islands, including the following.

Perhaps the most important global environmental service provided by forests on small islands is the conservation of biological diversity, both in the forest and in associated ecosystems such as coral reefs. In recognition of their important heritage, most small island States are signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and almost all of the Pacific nations are signatory to the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region. Small islands, because of their size and their physical isolation from other land masses, generally have lower species diversity of plants and animals but a higher percentage of endemism than do continental masses. For example, in the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Haiti, Jamaica and Mauritius more than 30 percent of the higher plant species are endemic. As for bird species, Solomon Islands and Fiji have 24 percent and 20 percent endemism respectively. States with a high percentage of endemic mammals include Mauritius (50 percent), Solomon Islands (36 percent) and Fiji (25 percent) (WRI/UNEP/UNDP/World Bank, 1996). Many of these plant and animal species are found in forests or are dependent on them.

Many small island nations are economically highly dependent on tourism. Although the forests on these small islands are rarely the primary attraction for overseas visitors, they may contribute to the islands' touristic appeal. Islands such as Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, Dominica, Jamaica and Saint Lucia have made efforts to develop the tourism potential of their forest areas. The role of coastal forests in maintaining the health of coral reefs, which in turn protect beaches from sand erosion, is indirect but critical to the tourism industry in some countries, for example in the Caribbean and some Pacific areas.

The many and important roles of trees and forests on small islands call for a holistic and integrated approach to forest management which takes into account not only the direct benefits obtainable from the forests but also the indirect benefits and the links with associated natural ecosystems and other economic sectors.


The concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere have increased since the onset of the industrial revolution, largely because of human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and land use conversion. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, increased by nearly 80 parts per million by volume (ppmv) between 1880 and 1994, after having fluctuated within a range of about 10 ppmv over the previous 1 000 years (Schimel et al., 1996). The precise impact of increased greenhouse gas concentrations on global climate patterns remains difficult to predict. However, there has been an observable increase in the global average surface temperature, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded, "The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on climate" (Houghton et al., 1996).

Forests can serve as reservoirs, sinks and sources of greenhouse gases and thus have a significant role in moderating the net flux of greenhouse gases between the land and the atmosphere. Forests act as reservoirs by storing carbon in biomass and soils. They are sinks of carbon when their area or productivity is increased, resulting in the uptake of atmospheric CO2. Conversely, they are sources when the burning and decay of biomass and disturbance of soil result in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Net CO2 emissions from changes in land use (primarily deforestation occurring mainly in tropical areas) currently contribute about 20 percent of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions (Schimel et al., 1996).

Various practices related to the forest sector can be grouped according to their roles in helping to slow the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere (Brown et al., 1996).

The CO2 benefits from these management strategies vary considerably in terms of their timing, magnitude and permanence. For example, the timing and magnitude of CO2 benefits from increased forest production (i.e. storage management) depend on the rate and duration of biomass growth. In the case of both conservation and storage management projects, the permanence of the CO2 benefits depends on the protection of carbon stocks against natural threats (e.g. forest fires, storms and diseases) and human threats (e.g. clearance of the forest and conversion to another land use). For example, the CO2 benefits of forest conservation may be negated if the forest is eventually burned or overharvested, or if decreased wood harvesting there results in more harvesting elsewhere. In the case of substitution of fuelwood for fossil fuels, the CO2 benefits occur at the time when fossil fuel combustion is avoided. These benefits are considered permanent, and fossil fuel substitution can be achieved repeatedly with continuing cycles of forest harvest. The CO2 benefits from wood product substitution vary according to the type and quantity of material displaced, the useful lifetime of the product (including recycling) and the method of wood product disposal.

There are obvious trade-offs among these three types of forest management strategy. For example, maximizing production of wood for storage or substitution management is likely to result in lower standing stocks of forest carbon than conservation management. Conversely, maximum protection of forests can result in increased use of non-renewable fossil fuels and emission-intensive non-wood materials. Substitution management may be an optimal strategy in cases where biomass growth rates are high and biomass efficiently displaces high-emission fuels or products. In the case of primary forests in regions with inefficient harvesting and manufacturing processes, forest conservation may provide more CO2 benefits than substitution management. It is important, however, to recognize that these management strategies need not be mutually exclusive. For example, afforestation in combination with subsequent harvest can offer CO2 benefits when the harvested wood either displaces fossil fuel use or offsets demand for wood from mature forests with high standing biomass.

Using forests to mitigate CO2 emissions will clearly require comprehensive accounting of the associated carbon sources and sinks over time and comprehensive analysis of the other environmental and socio-economic criteria that influence forest management choices.

The Kyoto Protocol

IPCC has estimated, with a medium level of confidence, that globally, carbon sequestration from reduced deforestation, forest regeneration and increased development of plantations and agroforestry between 1995 and 2050 could amount to 12 to 15 percent of fossil fuel carbon emissions over the same period (Brown et al., 1996). However, the future use of forest management strategies to meet national greenhouse gas reduction goals may depend in large part on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (see also Part III).

Negotiated during the third Conference of the Parties to FCCC in December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, if ratified, would provide legally binding limits to greenhouse gas emissions by Annex I Parties.26 The Kyoto Protocol makes provision for anthropogenic land use change and forestry activities to be used to define and meet national emission reduction targets in the first commitment period (2008 to 2012). It requires that countries account for fossil fuel emissions. As a consequence, there is an incentive to substitute wood and other biomass for more energy-intensive materials and fossil fuels. The Kyoto Protocol also provides limited encouragement for storage management by accounting for verifiable changes in carbon stocks from afforestation and reforestation. It gives limited encouragement for conservation activities because countries must report deforestation. Articles 2, 3 and 6 of the Kyoto Protocol specifically deal with land use change and forestry.

Article 12 provides for a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which enables Annex I and non-Annex I Parties to undertake greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in non-Annex I countries. These projects must also achieve other sustainable development goals. The certified emission reductions produced by these projects may be used by Annex I Parties to meet their national commitments. However, it is not specified which emission reduction activities are included in CDM or whether CDM includes projects to increase carbon sequestration. The emission reductions from these projects must be additional to those that would occur in the absence of these projects.

The language used in the Kyoto Protocol is undergoing intense scrutiny and many key issues have yet to be resolved. IPCC was asked to prepare a special report on carbon emissions from sources and removals by sinks from land use, land use change and forestry, to address issues such as the following.

Prospects for forests to provide additional carbon benefits

It is clear that fossil fuel combustion accounts for the majority of CO2 emissions globally, that it will continue to do so in the future and that the primary response for reducing net CO2 emissions will have to come from controlling the release of fossil fuel carbon. Nevertheless, forest management decisions can be cost-effective means of reducing net emissions, either by diminishing the contribution of forests to global net emissions or by enhancing their importance as carbon sinks. The long-term contribution of forests for mitigating climate change will be to provide renewable materials and fuels that reduce reliance on fossil fuels, while still maintaining the role of forests as carbon reservoirs.

Analyses to date suggest that there may be some inexpensive opportunities to reduce current net CO2 emissions through forest management activities and that these projects could have additional environmental benefits through protection of biological diversity, protection of watersheds, etc. If forestry projects can be integrated with the social, cultural and developmental needs of developed and developing countries, they could offer very attractive opportunities for providing carbon benefits, especially in the short term, while alternative energy system options are developed and the understanding of the costs of global climate change improves. The magnitude of benefits available through forest-sector activities will depend on the amount of land available, improvements of forest productivity and technical developments in the efficiency with which forest products are harvested and used.

22 The Mountain Forum, a recently formed global network consisting of international agencies, government representatives, research institutions, NGOs and individuals, maintains a Web site ( which makes information available on new mountain initiatives, mountain issues and reference materials.
23 AOSIS is a grouping within the G77 countries composed of 33 independent island nations and four low-lying coastal States, with five dependent territories as observers.
24 Several definitions exist for the term "small island States". The discussion here refers to the 52 developing and developed small island States and dependent territories that have an upper limit of land area of 50 000 km2. Most of the environmental and social services discussed in relation to these entities apply to small islands in general, including those that are part of a larger country.
25 Solomon Islands is the world's sixth largest exporter of tropical hardwood logs, and forestry accounts for more than 50 percent of its export revenues. Sandalwood has been a notable export from Vanuatu for nearly a century.
26 The Annex I Parties include developed countries and countries with economies in transition.

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