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Evolution in forest legislation

Recent years have witnessed a significant acceleration in the revision of forest laws around the world. The environmental importance of forests is more and more explicitly reflected in forest legislation, particularly since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Forest law increasingly recognizes the multiple interests involved in or affected by forest management, with greater attention given to the environmental and social roles of forest resources and to their sustainable management and use. In addition, renewed emphasis is being placed on the involvement of a wider range of public and private actors. Issues in which forest laws have been reoriented include local and private forest management, the environmental functions of forests, forest management planning and forest utilization contracts.

This study is the second of two volumes identifying the main trends observable in forest legislation on a regional basis. The present publication covers a sample of forest laws from Europe and Africa. The previous volume (FAO Legislative Study No. 66, 1998) covered Latin America, North America and Asia.

Forest fire guidelines for the Mediterranean

Forest fires represent a true calamity for Mediterranean forests. Every year, an estimated 50 000 fires ravage more than 600 000 ha in the Mediterranean region. Protection des forêts contre l'incendie is a set of practical, complete and up-to-date guidelines for the prevention and control of forest fires, prepared by the French agricultural and environmental research institute Cemagref at the request of the Network on Forest Fire Management of FAO's Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions - Silva Mediterranea. The guidelines, published by FAO with financial support from France, are intended to strengthen training in the prevention of and fight against forest fires. They will be valuable for all countries in the region.

The guide is organized around eight major themes, covering the range of forest fire problems in the Mediterranean region: fire mechanisms; databases; causes of fires; risk analysis; prevention; propagation control; forest firefighting; and rehabilitation measures. The wealth of information, practical advice and methods is provided in an educational format designed to be accessible to a wide public. An English version is in preparation.

Concepts and issues of public participation

Twenty-three specialists on participation in forestry - managers, researchers, practitioners and advisers to policy, private forestry and non-governmental organizations - collaborated on this publication to clarify the concept of "participation" and to develop a conceptual framework for participatory forest management involving the public. The team of specialists was established by FAO, the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to integrate the concept of public participation more fully and transparently into forest policy making and management.

The publication covers many critical characteristics of public participation, such as the levels, stages and intensities of participation and basic requirements from organizers and participants. It also examines more complex and problematic issues such as power relationships and cultural or institutional conflicts inherent to public involvement in forest management.

Conclusions and recommendations are given regarding public participation:

The Annexes include a list of recommended readings and summaries of 14 case studies on national experiences in public participation from 12 countries.

This publication will be a valuable resource for practitioners and policy-makers at all levels of forest management.

Comparative advantages of wood products

Wood, a renewable and recyclable raw material, is used worldwide for a broad range of end products as well as for renewable energy generation. In recent decades, wood has been facing substitution pressure from other materials such as synthetics, concrete, steel, ceramics and glass. This pressure could be reduced if the sustainability of forests and thus roundwood production were guaranteed, and if consumer awareness of the ecological benefits of wood-based products were enhanced.

This comparative study examined specific wood product end uses in which wood faces substitution pressure or can replace non-renewable raw materials. The focus was on building materials, specifically the following product groups:

The authors conducted a literature review on environmental and energy balances related to the selected end uses and analysed the main reasons for substitution. They compared selected products based on the literature review.

To compare the environmental impact associated with different materials and products, the study employed life cycle assessment, one of the most comprehensive of the different methods developed for measuring environmental impact in the past two decades. This method measures the environmental impact of products during their entire life cycle.

The analysis demonstrates the ecological advantages of wood as a building material and its benefits to the environment, including the thermal utilization at the end of the product life cycle. It provides scientifically based information for policy-makers, producers, consumers and other interested groups. The data provided clarify the reasons for selection and/or substitution of wood for specified end uses on the basis of environmental criteria. Measures to reduce substitution are recommended. The publication also presents potential topics for further research.

Proceedings of Expert Consultation on Rattan Development

Seven hundred million people around the globe use rattan. Local use of rattan worldwide values more than US$2 billion, and it is estimated that external trade in rattan generates US$4 billion. However, the economic and social importance of the rattan sector is based on a fast dwindling stock of wild rattan resources in the forests of Asia and Africa. This volume contains the proceedings of the Expert Consultation on Rattan Development, held at FAO headquarters in Rome in December 2000. The conference was jointly organized with the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and co-funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Articles adapted from many of the background papers were published in Unasylva 205 (2001). The present volume presents the complete background papers, together with the recommendations of the Expert Consultation and a summary of the discussions.

The report is organized according to the four thematic areas considered by the consultation: resources, uses and present action programmes; country reports on the status of rattan resources and uses in Africa and Asia; review of policy, institutional and socio-economic aspects governing the rattan sector; and required actions to enhance the sustainable development of the rattan sector. The 20 background papers give a comprehensive overview of the situation and prospects for the development of the rattan sector in Asia and Africa.


Monitoring international activities for environment and development

The Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development, compiled by the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway, first appeared in 1992 in connection with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Its aim is to describe international positions on specific environment and development problems, the main obstacles to effective international solutions and proposals for how to overcome them.

The "Current issues and key themes" section contains articles assessing achievements and limitations of various efforts to manage specific environmental problems. A section entitled "Agreements on environment and development" presents extensive information from and about the most important international agreements, including information on each instrument's objectives, scope, time and place of establishment, entry into force, status of participation, affiliated instruments and organizations, major activities, secretariat, finance, rules and standards, monitoring and implementation, decision-making bodies, key publications and Web sites.

This edition also provides updated summaries on intergovernmental organizations, including United Nations specialized agencies and international non-governmental organizations. New comprehensive profiles are presented for many countries, describing their main commitments and performance. The profiles introduced in this edition include all 29 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in addition to ten non-OECD countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Thailand).

A large part of the Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development is also available on the Internet ( ).

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