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Escritório Regional da FAO para a América Latina e o Caribe

Caribbean forestry experts learn FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment to improve sustainability of region’s forests

Forests are of great socio-economic and ecological importance in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Millions of families around the region depend on forests for their livelihoods and food security. Forests also help to regulate water flows, host biodiversity and play a crucial role in soil stabilization and the climate of Caribbean SIDS. In order to ensure the sustainable management of this significant natural resource, countries in the region should have detailed information on how their forests are used.

Participants of FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment Workshop use cell-phone technology to determine vegetation cover in Barbados. (© FAO / Claus Eckelmann)

Forests are of great socio-economic and ecological importance in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Millions of families around the region depend on forests for their livelihoods and food security. Forests also help to regulate water flows, host biodiversity and play a crucial role in soil stabilization and the climate of Caribbean SIDS. In order to ensure the sustainable management of this significant natural resource, countries in the region should have detailed information on how their forests are used.

Since 1948, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published a Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) to monitor the world’s forests, including their management and use. The FRA covers all countries around the world, including Caribbean SIDS, and contains a wealth of information covering the seven thematic elements of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).  These elements include extent of forest resources; forest biological diversity; forest health and vitality; productive functions of forest resources; protective functions of forest resources; socio-economic functions of forest resources; and legal, policy and institutional framework.

At the core of the FRA are country reports, which are published every five years and due for release again in 2020. Based on national data, these reports are compiled by a global network of national correspondents. The data collected and provided by FRA country reports are of the utmost importance to countries in their assessment of the quantity and quality of their forests. The data also support policies, decisions and negotiations in forestry and directly contribute to measuring progress on related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To support Caribbean SIDS in the development of their FRA 2020 country reports, FAO recently trained forestry officers from 12 countries in the region. During the workshop, participants learned how to compile their reports through a new online platform, which will enhance the quality, transparency and coherence of the information provided by the countries.

The 10-day interactive training event was held between 21 and 30 August, 2018 at the FAO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean in Barbados. Participating countries included Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Haiti Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.  

“It is important that people who work on forest data in the Caribbean meet to compare their results and share experiences. During these sessions, the experts from these countries who normally work alone had a forum for discussion and collaboration, which leads to a cross-fertilization of knowledge and practices,” said Claus Eckelmann, Forestry Officer for FAO.  

During the practical sessions, participants were trained as FRA national correspondents to enhance their data collection, analysis and reporting capacities. The workshop also gave the correspondents an opportunity to effectively build knowledge as well as to interact and share experiences on forest related reporting.

“The FRA 2020 workshop brought new insights to the completion of the report and the collaboration on a new on-line platform will improve the reporting efficiency,” said Anna Mohase, Projects Officer in the Planning and Development Division of the Guyana Forestry Commission.

“FAO empowered each participating country to understand and report on changes in their land cover and carbon emissions. With the introduction of FRA online platform, a user-friendly approach is provided to insert comments or notes on specific data entries. We can now fully indicate any expert logical assumptions made during the compilation of the country report and create a more realistic visual of reported shifts in forest cover,” said Ms. Alicia Edwards, Manager of Forest Resource Information Management and Mr. Upton Edwards, National Focal Point, in a joint statement on behalf of the Jamaica Forestry Department.

Following the workshop, participants returned to their respective countries with an improved capacity in forestry data collection and analysis to help their governments make effective policies and programs aimed at ensuring the sustainable use and management of their national forests.

“I consider the training provided by FRA to be very beneficial to me as the person responsible for completing the country reports. I fully intend to pass on the knowledge gained to colleagues at the Forestry Division in Saint Lucia. As a result of the training we can better use information to fulfill the requirements of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Conventions. The training also provided an opportunity to learn from the experience of other Caribbean member states, and it created access to a number of individuals who could provide support,” said Rebecca Rock, Assistant Chief Forestry Officer, Department of Forest and Lands Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives, Government of St. Lucia.

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