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Press Release 01/13

INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS DISCUSS PLAN OF ACTION ON FOREST FIRES


Rome, 9 March 2001 - Coordinated action to address the issue of forest fires in different parts of the world is the main topic being discussed at a three-day meeting of international experts on forest fire management and control at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this week.

The experts are examining the outline of a possible international plan of action on forest fires, taking account of environmental concerns, national policies, laws and institutions, FAO said.

Forest fires make a major impact on forest ecosystems and have complex environmental, social, and economic dimensions. They can have both positive (if managed) and negative effects that extend far beyond their areas of occurrence.

FAO, in collaboration with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) will host this week's meeting in response to requests from member countries. An expert from IUCN/WWF will also attend the meeting.

Over the past three years, FAO has intensified its activities in the field of forest fire management, through support to member countries in policy level dialogue, the collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of information and know-how, and the development of methodologies and strategies related to early warning, prevention, management, control and rehabilitation.

According to Mr. Hosny El Lakany , FAO's Assistant Director General (Forestry Department), FAO plans to further strengthen its work in the field of forest fire management in the years ahead. The Organization will continue to help countries to enhance their national capacities and, in cooperation with partners, improve the sharing of information and know-how among member countries, Mr. El Lakany said.

At this week's meeting, experts from 14 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and USA) are discussing proposals for international support and coordinated approaches to forest fire management . Elements and mechanisms for the establishment of agreements for support between countries in cases of emergencies are also being discussed.

A plan of action could include promotion of regional or international fire-fighting task forces; definition of operational forest fire regions; and the establishment of regional forest fire networks. Improvement and further expansion of the FAO Internet site on forest fires and continued support to inter-agency field projects on wild land fires are also part of the discussion.

The International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management comes just prior to the 15th Session of FAO Committee on Forestry in Rome on 12-16 March.

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For further information , please contact Ms. Christel Palmberg -Lerche,
Tel .00390657053841, Email: christel.palmberg@fao.org
or visit FAO website: http://www.fao.org/forestry/


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