Honourable Minister for Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, Mr Preecha Rengsomboonsuk
Vice-Governor of Chiang Mai Province, Mr Adisorn Kamnerdsiri,
Director-General of Forestry Department, Thailand, Mr Boonchob Suthamanuswuong,
Distinguished guests, participants and colleagues,
Good morning and welcome you to Chiang Mai!
On behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations I would like to thank the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, the Director-General of the Royal Forest Department and all of you for making this important meeting a reality. I wish to thank the Governor of Chiang Mai Province for hosting this important international event at the heart of beautiful and charming city. I also wish to acknowledge the co-sponsorship of the RFD which is particularly valued – without this support this important meeting would not have taken place in the Kingdom of Thailand.
This meeting brings together international experts from many different stakeholder groups – most importantly the National Correspondents. I note that this is a most significant meeting for the Global Forest Resources Assessment. Indeed we have more than 130 participants from over 100 countries and 6 major forest-related organizations, representing over 90 percent of the worlds forest area. Many of you travelled from countries very far, spent some cases nearly 2 days to reach here today. I wish to thank all for your valuable participation. I am also impressed by the positive response from countries to our request for nominations of National Correspondents to FRA. More than 160 countries have made such nominations making this truly a global exercise that is built upon very positive national contributions.
As you are aware, the Global Forest Resources Assessment is a foundation programme of FAO and represents some of the most important works that we do in forestry. Our member countries have consistently emphasized the high priority given to sound and timely compilation of data and information on the world’s forests.
The demand for neutral, timely and quality-controlled forest-related information is ever increasing. As an appreciation for forests as repositories of rich biodiversity, sources of clean and reliable supplies of water, unique providers of a wide range of forest products, destinations for ecotourists, storehouses of carbon, and the basis for millions of forest-based livelihoods has grown, so too has the demand for more and better information about the world’s forests. In this context it is also relevant to note requests from countries for better coordination of forest related data and thereby reducing the high reporting burden on countries.
The Forest Resources Assessment 2015 includes the Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire and the new Forest Resources Information Management System (FRIMS). These tools play a key role in reducing the reporting burden, avoiding duplication of efforts and increasing consistency among different data collection processes. This helps implement the idea of collecting data once and using it many times. In this case, countries will report once through the Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire with automated sharing of this data with their various international partner organizations.
The value of the Forest Resources Assessment is not only in the global, regional and ecozone results – but importantly are also in the content of the national reports. These reports should be most useful at the national level to inform national stakeholders of the status of your forests and the changes that are taking place, and guide policy makers for timely policy decisions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You have a long and challenging week starting today. Understanding FRA 2015 and all of the details that have been prepared is a substantial task. I trust you will ask questions of each other – and the FAO and Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire partner staff who are here this week. Please request them to provide you with all the information you need to complete the FRA 2015 country reports.
Your presence here today confirms that the Forest Resources Assessment is a country-led process that can improve the knowledge of the world’s forests with the dual goals of better informing policy making and encouraging greater investment in forestry by governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and donors.
Your suggestions on the process are very welcome and very important – for FRA 2015 and for future global Forest Resource Assessments. Please don’t hesitate to let the FAO staff know your thoughts during the week.
I also want to encourage you to take part in the field trip that our friends and colleagues at the Royal Forest Department have prepared – they have done a great deal of work in preparing for this meeting. I am sure it will be an enjoyable and informative day.
Once again, on behalf of FAO, I would like to thank all of you for your participation, contributing you time, resources and knowledge to these important tasks. I wish you the very best as you contribute to the success of FRA 2015 and the Collaborative Forest Resources Questionnaire and enjoyable stay in Chiang Mai.