The State of the World's Forests reports every two years on the status of forests, recent major policy and institutional developments and key issues concerning the forest sector. This is the fourth edition of the publication, the purpose of which is to make current, reliable and policy-relevant information widely available to policy-makers, foresters and other natural resource managers, academics, forest industry and civil society. Our hope is that it will facilitate informed discussion and decision-making with regard to the world's forests.
As we approach the benchmark year of 2002, the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), it is an opportune moment to take stock of the progress made over the past decade. UNCED sparked a decade of change, characterized by new thinking and fresh approaches to forest management, as well as questioning as to what its objectives should be and who the beneficiaries should be. A vision of sustainable forest management emerged, commitment was strengthened and innovative alliances forged with the aim of achieving common goals in forestry.
Over the past ten years, the sector has moved in two seemingly opposite directions simultaneously, towards "localization", on the one hand, and "globalization", on the other. At the national level, forest planning processes, policies, legislation and field programmes have taken on new emphases, including increased decentralization and participation. Internationally, it has been a time of intense debate, with discussions over the past five years resulting in agreement on several proposals for action, including - very recently - the establishment of an international arrangement to promote the sustainable management, conservation and development of all types of forest, to strengthen long-term political commitment and to promote the implementation of the proposals for action. At the technical level, a wide variety of international initiatives on forests have been launched through various mechanisms, and regional cooperation in forest-related issues has been strengthened.
The State of the World's Forests 2001 examines these developments, focusing mainly on the past two years. Part I provides an overview, briefly highlighting some of the recent key developments in the sector. Part II comprises four chapters, each focusing on a selected topical issue that merits an in-depth review. The first reports on the findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, the most recent and comprehensive assessment of the status and trends of forest resources worldwide; the second chapter discusses climate change and forests, a topic of particular interest that stems from concern about possible climate-induced changes and from the recent negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. The conservation of forest biological diversity in protected areas - the topic of the third chapter - is an area that has developed and evolved markedly over the past ten to twenty years. This, together with the prominence of forests in upcoming discussions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, makes forest protected areas a subject of current interest. The fourth chapter of Part II addresses illegal activities and corruption in the forest sector, which was considered a taboo subject until recently but is now openly discussed in international fora. Part III provides an update on the international dialogue on forests and global and regional initiatives for forests, and Part IV provides forest-related information on major regional economic groups.
Advance copies of the State of the World's Forests 2001 were made available to
the delegations attending the fifteenth session of the Committee on Forestry, FAO's highest policy forum on forests, held in March 2001. The final publication incorporates feedback from countries and includes national forest resource data provided to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 after the Committee on Forestry meeting was held.
The FAO Forestry Department trusts that the State of the World's Forests 2001 will succeed in increasing awareness of key issues in the forest sector today and in providing valuable information that contributes to the achievement of sustainable forest management. FAO would be pleased to hear from readers and welcomes comments, ideas and information that may be useful for the next issue, the State of the World's Forests 2003.
M. Hosny El-Lakany
FAO Forestry Department