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Mr. Peter Lowe

Forestry Planning Officer

Regional Office for Africa (Accra, Ghana)

Food and Agriculture Organization

of the United Nations

1. Introduction

Mr Chairman, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to participate on behalf of FAO's Regional Office for Africa in this second workshop on data collection and analysis under the FAO-EC Partnership Programme. At the outset, I should like to convey the cordial greetings of FAO's Senior Forestry Officer in Africa, Mr. Pape Kone, who wishes us a week of hard but fruitful work.

The first workshop was held in Nakuru, Kenya, 12-16 October 1998, and was attended mainly by member countries of IGAD. Two further workshops are planned for next year; in Libreville, Gabon in May, and in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire in July.

2. Why Forest Statistics are needed

The needs for information about forestry in Africa, as in other regions, are expected to increase in the future for Africa's own use and for the international community. Broadly speaking, forestry information is used in three main areas:

Without hard facts and analysis, foresters cannot expect to convince political leaders that their forestry concerns should receive more consideration vis á vis other sectoral priorities. Thus, it is not enough to assert that forests should be conserved. Whereas, from our perspective, an average annual deforestation rate of 0.7% for Africa may be deplorable, this may seem to others a small price worth paying for expanded agricultural production or cooking of food. Not only do foresters need access to incontestable facts, they need also to ensure that there is full awareness of the likely consequences of policy options.

When it comes to competing for development funding, foresters need to be able to present economic arguments based on quantifiable costs and benefits. Therefore, in addition to facts, there is a need to assess analytically the impacts on beneficiaries. Thus, rather than be content to assert that, during the "hungry season", many rural people depend on the forest to supplement their diets, there is a need to quantify how many families and to what extent.

Following the Rio Summit in 1992, there has been an ongoing discussion by the international community concerning sustainable forest management. The Africa participation in identification of internationally agreed criteria and indicators was facilitated through an FAO/UNEP Workshop on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Dry-Zone Africa held in Nairobi in November 1997, in follow-up to the Expert Meeting held on the same subject in November 1995.

However, Africa's voice has not been heard as clearly as it should, particularly in regard to the conservation and utilisation of its own sovereign forest resources. The major impediment has been the lack of a commonly adopted negotiating position. For this to be achieved, policy makers need harmonised data aggregated on a sub-regional and regional basis, which FAO is mandated to assist.

3. What Forestry Statistics are needed?

Statistics and outlook studies are both central to the mandate of FAO which includes compiling, analysing and disseminating information on all aspects of agriculture and rural development, including forestry, at regional and global levels.

Most of the information about forestry in the Africa region currently compiled by FAO falls broadly into two areas:

Forest Resources:

Forest Products:

Yet, in view of the broad scope of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management, these data series do not fully satisfy the needs. In addition to the forestry statistics, FAO also compiles a wide range of extra-sectoral information relating to land-use, policy, institutional, social, economic and environmental factors and developments that have a strong bearing on the forestry sector.

Undoubtedly, the key development issue for Africa as a whole is Food Security. Food security is defined by FAO as access by all people at all times to the food needed for a healthy and active life. Achieving food security means ensuring that sufficient food is available, that supplies are relatively stable and that those in need of food can obtain it.

Although over the years governments, with support from FAO and other development agencies, have addressed food security and its related elements in many ways, today more than 800 million people in developing countries - about 20 percent of their total population - do not have sufficient food to fulfil their basic nutritional needs, despite worldwide increases in food supplies. In Africa, things are twice as bad, with more than 40% of people unable to enjoy food security and, unlike other regions, the absolute number of Africans affected is projected to worsen by the year 2010.

Studies undertaken by FAO, the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Policy Institute (IFPRI) all indicate that while global food supplies will be sufficient to meet the growth in global demand, sub-Saharan Africa may buck the trend; that is, the rate of increase in demand for food in this region is expected to outstrip the supply. The solution must be found in the ability of individual countries to pay for imports not covered by food aid. That is why, when we speak of Food Security, we do not mean Food Sufficiency at the country level, nor on the household level because of the pressure of urbanisation.

Efforts to achieve food security in Africa will have an impact on forests, and will draw increasing attention to the supportive role that forests play in attaining food security. Increased production of food in developing countries is likely to be achieved through both intensifying food production on existing agricultural lands, and increasing the area of land available for agriculture. The conversion to agriculture is unstoppable. Whether this might be a positive contribution to Sustainable Development will hinge on the criteria by which forest lands are selected, their suitability for cultivation and the net economic and social profit over time associated with the new land use.

By adopting Food Security as a thematic approach for data collection, foresters can mount a powerful case for sustainable forest management. Consider, for a moment, the roles of forests, and of forests and trees outside forests, in providing the following benefits:

(i) Forest Protective Functions

(ii) Maintenance of Soil Fertility and Structure

(iii) Forest Foods

(iv) Fuelwood for Cooking

(v) Commercialisation of Forest Products

4. African Challenges

Many of the forest goods and services listed above are more important regionally, to Africa, than they are globally. Certainly, the underlying driving force of agriculture and the quest for food security are inescapable.

With regard to forest products statistics, it is recognised that in Africa much production, consumption and exchange occurs through informal channels so that the forest products data FAO receives and publishes are valid mostly for the monetised part of the region's economies. This inevitably means under-reporting the full extent to which demands are being exerted upon forests by demand for forest products.

Statistics on non-wood forest products (NWFP) production and trade are very weak. For key products, such as gum arabic, customs statistics can be accessed through the international trade database (COMTRADE) of the UN Statistical Office, but production information is incomplete and is not systematically collected. Due to the wide array of NWFPs and problems of definitions, reporting cycles and units of measurement used for NWFPs in different countries, compilation of international statistics is quite challenging. A general weakness is that FAO does not publish NWFP statistics due to their being relatively insignificant at global level; current thinking is to promote regional statistical publications in which products of regional importance can feature.

The fact that this series of FAO-EC Workshops of forestry data have been organised on a sub-regional basis is based on a recognition of the diversity of Africa. The various sub-regions are characterised by widely differing ecosystems, forest types and richness. Not only do they differ in natural endowments. Even within sub-regions, the countries may have inherited different administrative systems which overlay a rich diversity of customary practice in regard to land and forest use.

Although the collection of forestry data may be shared with non-governmental entities, it is a primary responsibility of government administration. Generally, statistics may be generated at a local level but the manner of their collation and national reporting is heavily reliant on the degree of decentralisation in government structure, and the flow of revenues associated with primary statistics. But, even disregarding this hierarchical aspect, foresters are may be hampered by the unnatural divisions imposed by the line ministries involved. Thus, wildlife - to which the forest habitat is an integral part of the ecosystem - may commonly be the responsibility of another ministry. Similarly, production and trade statistics may be collected by ministries completely removed from the sector.

No sub-region of Africa has been immune to the disruptions arising from internal strife, natural calamity or collapse of political order. Most countries are relatively poor in world terms and many are struggling with the obligations incurred under Structural Adjustment to reduce administrative capacity. Although most countries in the region have achieved a degree of institutional maturity in their forestry services, the loss of experienced and talented professional and technical staff represents an unaffordable loss in human talent and institutional memory.

Yet, the International Community is engaged in a continual process of increasing complexity involving heavy additional burdens on national governments in terms of data requirements.

5. Future Prospects

Although the realities described above will continue to impede and limit the availability and quality of forestry statistics - particularly at field level - the prospects for regional and sub-regional co-operation have improved beyond recognition with the potential of internet access.

A major improvement in the dissemination of international forestry and related statistics has been the development and updating of forestry statistics databases on the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) available on the FAO INTERNET site. WAICENT carries information on forest resources as well as forest products; forest products data on WAICENT is now updated four times a year as new or revised data are received from countries.

For the entire range of data from resources to products, the long-term solution to statistical quality lies in capacity building in all countries for data collection techniques but also for equipment and skills in identifying and appraising information needs and in analysing and interpreting it. This workshop will play its part in that process. FAO's Regional Office for Africa has prepared draft Methodological guidelines for improving Forestry statistics in Africa which are currently being reviewed; your comments on these during the week would be welcomed.

FAO has identified the need for as Forestry Outlook Study for Africa (FOSA), similar to that for the Asia and Pacific Region which has just been completed. The study would build upon ongoing studies and activities - particularly, the series of data collection and analysis workshops in which we are participating. FOSA would go further, however, to provide an overall prognosis on a regional and sub-regional basis to assess the prospects for sustainable development in the forestry sector to a horizon year of 2020.

Strong working partnerships are being forged with other international, regional and sub-regional organisations. Already the EU is supporting the key component relating to data collection and analysis. The African Development Bank has expressed its concrete desire to be associated with FOSA, and FAO has recently strengthened its regional presence in Accra and Harare with the out-posting of four Regional Officers.

The proposed outlook study has been welcomed and endorsed and afforded high priority by African Governments at the 11th Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) in Dakar, April 1998. Furthermore, the AFWC commended FAO to work closely with sub-regional organisations, such as SADC, in carrying out FOSA.


Forest Resources

· Forest Resources Background Information,

· Country Briefs,

· Note on data collection for the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000,

· NWFPs statistics paper,

· Maps of Protected Areas of each countries, prepared by WCMC,

· Vegetation map prepared by EROS data Centre,

· Terms and Definition of FRA2000

· Guidelines for Assessment in Tropical and Sub-Tropical Countries, FRA2000

· Working Paper on Trees Outside the Forest.

Forest Products

· Objective and functions of economic and statistical information for the forestry sector,

· Organising Forestry Statistics, Collection Processing Dissemination,

· Using Information Technology for Forest Products Data Processing and Exchange,

· Forest Products: Production, Consumption, and Trade (1996, Africa)

· Measurements of Forest Products,

· Collecting Production Statistics,

· Collecting Trade statistics,

· Statistics on Woodfuel, an introduction,

· A Forestry Statistical Office,

· Synopsis on Country brief on Forestry Statistics,

· FAO Yearbook of Forest Product country data, for revision 1961-1996,

· State of the Art of the information on Woodfuel in East-Africa countries.

FAO Electronic media:

· FAOSTAT/PC Forest Products (2 floppies + installation manuals),


· Yearbook of Forest Products 1992-1996, publication in Acrobat format (1 floppy),

· Pulp and Paper Capacity Survey 1997-2002, publication in Acrobat format (1 floppy),

· FAO Yearbook of Forest Product country data, for revision 1961-1996 (1 floppy),

· FAO Yearbook of Forest Product questionnaire(a prototype in Excel).

FAO Publications:

· Yearbook of Forest Products 1992-1996,

· Pulp and Paper Capacity Survey 1997-2002,

· Pulp and Paper Mill List,

· Statistics Today for tomorrow, 1945-1994, 2010,

· State of World's Forests, 1997,

· Proceedings, FAO Working Group on Forestry Statistics, Rome, 1996,

· Report of the Internat. Expert Consultation on NWFP, Yogyakarta, 1995.

C) Note on data collection for FRA 2000

This note briefly describes the interrelation between the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 and the EC-FAO Programme "Data collection and Analysis for Sustainable Forest Management: Linking National and International Efforts".

The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000)

The FAO, in cooperation with its member countries, is currently conducting the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 for the tropical - and sub-tropical countries. Outputs will include information on forest area (status 2000 and change), ecological aspects of forests and economical potentials of forests. The assessment work depends on collecting, analysing and standardising of existing country data/information on forest resources. Data are collected in close cooperation with the countries, in the following ways:

· Organization of regional workshops, with participation of country contacts

· contributions by regional cooperators and consultants, involving country missions.

· documentation and library search.

The collected or provided country data, adjusted to a common international classification scheme, will be stored in the FAO FORIS (Forest Resources Information System) database. FAO will then estimate country forest area figures for the years 1990 and 2000 by applying enhanced and updated adjustment functions which relate forest area changes to ecological settings and human population developments. Prior to publication, the assessment results will be presented and/or disseminated to the countries for comments and agreement, also through a number of workshops.

Link with EC-FAO project in ACP countries

Currently, a joint EC- FAO Partnership Programme: is being implemented in the ACP-countries (Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean). Data are collected on forest resources and forest products, and the former will to a large extent serve the needs of the FRA 2000 programme. A number of "data collection" workshops will be organised. Prior to the workshops country data on forest resources compiled by FAO (presented in country briefs) are sent to the country participants for review and update, together with guidelines and tables for data collection.

During the workshops, FAO staff and country participants will jointly review and further complete the country data, and discuss follow-up actions on data collection. At the workshop, the Guidelines for Assessment, will be distributed and discussed.

Contact persons FRA 2000: Peter Holmgren; E-mail:

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