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Press Release 01/16

FAO FOREST RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS AND GLOBAL WARMING


Rome, 15 March 2001 - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Forest Information System, based on its Forest Resources Assessments, could become a tool for assessing the changes in forest carbon stocks , under the Kyoto Protocol, FAO said today.

Plans for a new Global Forest Resources Assessment are one of the key discussion points for more than 300 ministers, senior officials and experts representing the forestry sector throughout the world, meeting in Rome this week for the 15th Session of FAO's Committee on Forestry (COFO)

The Kyoto Protocol, signed at the Third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 1997, has important forestry dimensions, according to FAO. Quantification of forests' potential contribution to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through reduced deforestation and reforestation ,will require comprehensive accounting of the associated carbon sources. Comprehensive analysis of other environmental and socio-economic criteria that influence forest management choices and the feasibility of fossil fuel substitution by bio-energy are also needed, the Organization said.

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Changes estimates that between 1995 and 2050, global carbon sequestration from reduced deforestation, forest regeneration and increased development of plantations and agroforestry could contribute about 12-15 percent to offsetting the world's carbon emissions from fossil fuels. At the Kyoto meeting, 39 countries committed themselves to reducing greenhouses gas emissions overall between 2008 and 2012 by at least 5 percent. Some countries committed themselves to reducing emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012.

Discussing FAO's proposals for a future Global Forest Resources Assessment, FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik said in an opening speech at COFO: "An important and disturbing conclusion of the current Forest Resources Assessment is that although there is more material available on forests and forestry than ever before (particularly over the Internet ), key information needed for sustainable forest management is still missing."

The Assistant Director-General for Forestry, Hosny El Lakany, said FAO's Forest Resources Assessment programme is seeking ways and means of making future assessments more accurate and that FAO is still in the initial stages of developing the methodology for a Global Forest Survey. Mr El Lakany called on member countries to provide more detailed, timely and accurate measurements of their forest resources, including monitoring of forest changes. Such information would be used by concerned organizations to address issues such as carbon sequestration, biological diversity and sustainable forest management, Mr. El Lakany added.

FAO Strategic Plan for Forestry says the main challenge for the sector over the medium-term is balancing increasing demands for wood and non-wood products with a wide array of environmental, social and cultural services, recognising the key role of forests and trees in food security, rural employment, conservation of soil and water resources, mitigating climate changes and conserving biological diversity.

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For more information, please contact Mr. Wulf Killmann, Chairperson Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate in Relation to Agriculture and Food security, Tel . 0657053221; E.mail: wulf.killmann@fao.org, or visit FAO website: http://www.fao.org/forestry

Audio-clip

FAO Deputy Director-General, Mr. David Harcharik, addressing the participants to the 15th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), FAO Headquarters. Mr. Harcharik comments upon the conclusions of the FAO's most recent assessment of 'Global Forest Resources Assessment'.

Duration: 1min01sec

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