Friends and Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and on my own behalf to the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP). I would like to congratulate my colleagues from FAO Headquarters and RAP’s Forestry Group for jointly organizing this Regional Review and Training Workshop for the National Correspondents for Asia and the Pacific Region. I would also like to thank our partner institution in holding this workshop, the International Network of Bamboo and Rattan or INBAR.
As I mentioned in my invitation letter, FAO has been conducting Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) on a regular basis for more than half a century. This important task is mandated by the FAO member countries and it is carried out in close collaboration with the countries through a network of national correspondents (NCs) – including those present in this conference room. Your active participation and contributions form the cornerstone of these Forest Resources Assessments.
During the past several years, I have been observing that the expectations placed on the FRA programme by the international community have increased phenomenally. In part, this is because it provides the most updated forest resources information to various international processes, such as the Inter-governmental Forum on Forests (IFF), United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), etc. These international forums and conventions are already waiting for the latest forest resources information as of 2005. In addition, there is also an increasing global demand for forest information by international communities and governments, to support their policy decisions. The private sector is eager in getting precision and updated forest information to support investment, operational, and marketing decisions. Therefore this regional review and training workshop has a significant role to play to improve and expedite the preparation of country reports for their submission to FAO by the end of December 2004. I would like to thank you for your valuable contributions to this process.
At the same time, I am informed that the set of tables that you have to complete for FRA 2005 has presented some difficulties because some of the required information, such as the tree resources outside forest lands, total biomass, and carbon stocks in the forests, have seldom been investigated and systematically collected in most countries. Such information is, however, more and more required in domestic forest policy and development and conservation programme development and implementation as well as by the international community for monitoring progress in the implementation of international conventions. This looks to me to be a new challenge that is likely to necessitate the broadening of the scope of conventional national forest inventory systems.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, I wish to acknowledge the generous financial support from the Green Fund of Japan through the Ramsar Center Japan, the International Seminar Support Scheme, AusAID of Australia, and INBAR. It is this partnership and joint action that has made this workshop possible.
I wish you all a very successful and fruitful workshop and look forward to seeing the results of your deliberations.
With this short note, I now declare this Workshop open.