2. THE WORKSHOP AT PORT-OF-SPAIN (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO)
2.1. The organization of the workshop
The Caribbean Workshop on Data Collection and Outlook Effort for Forestry was held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources with the support of FAO and the EU through the EC-FAO Partnership Programme and the Netherlands-funded Regional Project "Support to National Forestry Programmes".
This workshop focussed on FAO member countries in the Caribbean, namely: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago.
With the exception of Antigua & Barbuda, all of the above countries were able to send at least one participant. In the case of Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname, two participants from each country came, and the host country, Trinidad & Tobago, had four participants. There were four FAO staff members present. Two participants came from the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF). The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the University of West Indies and the University of Maryland (Global Land Cover Facility), sent one participant each. A list of participants is attached as Appendix I.
The workshop took place in the Kapok Hotel in Port-of-Spain, by kind invitation of the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources (MALMR) of Trinidad & Tobago. A half-day field visit to the Arena forest reserve and a Caribbean pine nursery and plantation was sponsored by the host government.
The workshop, which lasted 5 days, had two parallel groups (Forest Resources and Forest Products). Each group dealt with current status and outlook for 3½ days. A copy of the agenda is attached as Appendix II. A senior officer of the host country, Mr. Narine Lackhan, Director of Forestry Division, MALMR, was invited to chair the plenary sessions. The two working groups were chaired by Mr. Oswald Sabido (Belize) and Ms. Marilyn Headley (Jamaica), respectively.
The participating countries were provided with several background documents related to the forestry sector together with presently available information on the forest resources and products of the region. This information had been sent to each country approximately one month before the workshop, through their FAO Representatives. Various other Secretariat papers were distributed during the meeting (see list of documents provided in Appendix III).
Useful additions to the agenda were:
a review of the draft report on forest management and conservation with the national consultant with a view to incorporating information, conclusions and recommendations of the workshop;
a summary of the main trends and outlook (by chair) arising from the country presentations and reports, as a contribution to the parallel sessions;
a review of the parallel session reports as a contribution to the final plenary session in which the recommendations were drafted.
2.2. Introductory addresses and highlights
The Opening Ceremony started with the national anthem and was chaired by Mr. Devendra Dugal, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources, Trinidad & Tobago.
Mr. Don E. Robinson, FAO Representative for Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, welcomed the participants to the workshop on behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Mr. Jacques Diouf, the Directorate-General for Development, European Union and the Forestry Department of FAO, Rome. He also thanked the Honourable Trevor Sudama for gracing this function with his presence and for his keen participation in the opening ceremony, and underscored the valuable support of the Netherlands for financing the FAO regional project on national forestry programmes that made possible the participation of two national experts from Cuba.
Mr. Robinson recalled that the workshop was a direct and concrete follow-up action to conclusions and recommendations of the Expert Consultation on Forestry Policy in the Caribbean, held here in Port of Spain, in May 1998, which was also organized in close collaboration with the Commission of European Communities.
In conclusion, he thanked the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for its generous offer to host the workshop and organize a field trip on Wednesday afternoon, and FAO's partners, the Commission of the European Communities and the Netherlands, for supporting this activity. He also invited the ideas and suggestions of participants as to how best FAO, in close collaboration with other regional partners, could assist their respective countries in improving their data collection and analysis effort in forestry towards reaching our goal of sustainable forest management.
Mr. Ronald M. Gordon, Deputy Programme Manager, Agricultural Development, Caribbean Community Secretariat, welcomed the opportunity to be associated with this EC-FAO Workshop on "Data Collection and Outlook Effort for Forestry in the Caribbean." He mentioned that the thrust of the Workshop is all the more significant as the countries of CARICOM and CARIFORUM redouble their efforts to diversify the base of their economic output and, in the process, effectively utilise all available resources.
Mr. Gordon had asked the CARICOM Statistical Unit for information on the percentage share of forestry in the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of CARICOM countries. Of the 11 countries which published this data, Guyana (34.85%); Jamaica (7.9%), Trinidad and Tobago (3.11%) and Belize (2.25%), were those in which forestry's share of GDP had averaged in excess of 1% over the four-year period 1994-1997. But he asked if this figure told the entire story? For example, disaggregated data were not available for some countries and others did not separate the forestry sector, preferring instead to group forestry with agriculture. Consequently, information was not available on forestry's contribution for example, to employment.
Other questions he also raised, including the economic value of forestry to tourism in the region and its role as the habitat for important flora and fauna in the region. He suggested that these data are also critical in assessing the impact of and projecting the outlook for the forestry sector, and urged that countries make provision for the collection of such data in their primary databases. He recommended that, in so doing, national experts forge close cooperation with their colleagues in their national statistical offices as they design and develop their databases so that the primary data recorded could allow meaningful disaggregation of the analyses to reflect a more comprehensive picture of the economic and social contribution of the forestry sector.
Finally, Mr. Gordon, on behalf of the Chairman, the CARICOM Secretariat, commended the FAO for leading in this exercise and the European Commission for providing support.
Mr. Paul Reiner, Rural Development Counsellor, Delegation of the European Commission, Trinidad & Tobago, recalled that tropical forests have been a major concern of the international community for the last two decades and that a major impetus was given to international commitment to forests in 1992, when the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio adopted the Rio Declaration, the Agenda 21 and the so-called statement on Forest Principles. Since then, many countries have signed the `Framework Convention on Climate Change' and the `Convention on Biological Diversity'.
The European Community's policy statements on forests in the context of cooperation with developing countries are well in line with the international commitments concerning forests in these countries. Environmental issues were first formally presented in EC cooperation policy statements in the mid 1980's (the then Lomé III convention). A basis for EC development assistance for tropical forest conservation was established in 1990 with the development council resolution on tropical forests. This was followed in 1991 with the creation of a budget line `on operations to promote tropical forests'. It is under this budget line that the present project has been supported.
He noted that one of the problems identified in the field of forest management was the lack of adequate and transparent information on the state and use of forest resources. Information on forests is often incomplete and the statistics tend to focus on commodities, rather than on the state and potential of forest resources. In all the international fora mentioned before, the FAO was an active participant and a main contributor through its technical know-how on matters related to environment and development. He noted that the EC had found in the organization a competent partner and a frontrunner in the field of SFM. That is how and why, together with the ACP countries, a joint FAO-EC project was set up aiming at the improvement and expansion of data collection, improvement of skills necessary to analyse the data and to shape them in a format on which policy options can be based.
Finally, Mr. Reiner expressed the gratitude of the EC to the government of Trinidad and Tobago to have accepted to host the workshop.
The workshop was officially opened by the Honourable Trevor Sudana, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources, Trinidad & Tobago. The Minister was pleased to report that in the forestry sector in Trinidad and Tobago, data collection and analysis is not only limited to the forest, but also includes the collection of data about wildlife, wetlands and national parks. For example, when hunting permits are sold, purchasers are given a questionnaire requiring information on the number and species of animals which have been harvested. Bird counting is also another significant exercise practised by staff members of the Wetland and Wildlife Sections to estimate populations of local and migratory species and the effects of hunting and the overall environmental health of a swamp or forest habitat.
Data collection and analysis is also not only confined to plants and animals, but also include people when they visit parks and other protected areas. Trinidad and Tobago has already established a number of parks of recreational and historical significance.
While a certain degree of competence exists for data management in the forestry sector in Trinidad and Tobago, there are many constraints which mitigate against a more significant contribution to national planning and development. The necessity for collecting current data continues to be the greatest challenge. The Forestry Division has not yet acquired the required technology, hardware or software for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or Global Positioning Systems (GPS), although such technology exists in other agencies. It continues to rely on data which are 20 years old from the last National Forest Inventory completed in 1980, and there still exists a lack of sufficiently qualified technicians, computer programmers and statisticians dedicated to the required task. It is recognised that in order to obtain accurate and timely data, a significant financial investment would be required for transfer of technology and for training. Technical assistance in the above areas would be very welcome.
The Minister then went on to note that the Government was aware of the integral role and function of forests in watershed management, the timber industry, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism and in poverty alleviation, especially among the rural population. As a consequence, several policy, planning and budgetary strategies had been developed to address programmes and projects in these and related areas, based upon the perceived needs. During the last five years Trinidad and Tobago had made strides in the field of forestry and the environment through the efforts of this Government. Some of the significant achievements included:
the development of a National Environmental Policy;
the revision of the 1942 Forest Policy and creation of a new policy for the 21st century;
the reinstatement of membership in the International Tropical Timber Organization and the imminent adoption of its Year 2000 Objective;
the appointment of a National Wetland Committee and preparation of a National Wetland Policy;
participation in the Ramsar Convention and designation of the Nariva Swamp as a wetland of international importance;
the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the execution of a national biodiversity planning project, and
participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In spite of these achievements, though, he noted that the forestry sector locally and internationally, continued to attract less recognition for its importance than expected, one of the reasons for this being a dearth of scientific data on its roles and effects.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Agricultural Sector, which includes Forestry and Fisheries, is deemed to contribute less than 3% to GDP. However, in terms of the Forestry sub-sector contribution to water production, recreation, the environment and clean air, there has been little or no quantification to demonstrate its true worth. The European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organization have seen it fit to undertake this training workshop for sustainable forest management in African and Caribbean countries of the Lomé Convention. The growing world-wide interest in Sustainable Forest Management, based on economically, environmentally and socially balanced forest policies, provokes the need for good, reliable and timely data on forest resources, forest products and trade. The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is happy to host the Caribbean Workshop for members of the CARICOM fraternity and renews its commitment towards fostering cooperation in producing and sharing data regionally and internationally.
Mr. Narine Lackhan, Director of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources (MALMR), thanked the Minister on behalf of all participants.
Immediately after the opening ceremony and the group picture, all participants were given the chance to introduce themselves. Mr. Yves C. Dubé, FAO Forestry Planning Officer from Rome, explained the reasons for a data collection and outlook effort for forestry in the Caribbean and presented the broad components of the EC-FAO partnership programme and its objectives. He then went on to introduce the implementation strategies and activities, stressing that the ownership and leadership by the countries of the region was central to the success of the effort. Mr. Dubé mentioned that the expected results of the workshop were:
improvement of the coverage , timeliness and quality of data;
development of a framework for collecting and disseminating basic and new data;
contribution to regional forestry sector outlook; and
identification of country capacity building needs and follow-up actions.
In terms of follow-up actions after the workshop, individual country data will be finalised, assistance will be provided to finalise the data or to help develop plans and capacity for data acquisition and compilation, and a regional summary outlook document will be produced.
Dr. Eileen Heimer, International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), presented a proposal for producing a regional map of forest resources in the Caribbean. She explained that the project was only in its preliminary stage and that partners were sought to implement it. She also discussed some of the technical aspects of its production including difficulties but also advantages for policy and planning.
The morning session was completed with the presentation by Mr. Narine Lackhan, Director of Forestry, MALMR, of the summary findings of the thematic paper "Forest Management and Conservation in the Caribbean". Mr. Lackhan called for more integrated land use planning to achieve sustainable forest management in Caribbean countries. He reported that most countries have formulated and are implementing policy actions towards sustainable forest management, and underlined that water, biodiversity and tourism were of concern for a majority of the countries of the region, in particular the small island countries. He also pointed out the lack of data on services from forests and the need to get more resources to increase capacity for sustainable forest management.
2.3. Presentation of country briefs
The participants from each of the fifteen countries attending presented in plenary session a summary of their country brief according to a format distributed prior to the workshop. See Appendix V for the full Country Reports.
Some countries (e.g. Bahamas and Belize) of the region reported a tendency to move from an emphasis on forest exploitation to forest conservation. Environmental awareness campaign and public education and public participation was mentioned as an objective of forest policy (e.g. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada). In general, however, there is no data available on the informal sector. For example, for fuelwood, in Haiti, it is suspected that the supply of fuelwood through the plantation programme will be sufficient to meet the demand for wood energy.
On the other hand, countries expressed a desire to have more information on services from forests, for example on water production, watershed protection or ecotourism. It was also mentioned that there was no established methodology for estimating the production or consumption of non-wood forest products. Grenada however reported that a study on medicinal plants is being carried out.
In terms of forest policy and institutions, decentralisation of forest management responsibilities to local communities as well as co-management were indicated as emerging institutional changes. The need to diversify economy away from agriculture was mentioned by some small island countries as a result of World Trade Organization negotiations as well as a high degree of dependency on imports of wood products. An increase in demand for non-wood forest products was noted as a result of increased tourism and its implications for future forest management needs and orientations.
Deforestation activities was reported on private lands where there is no state control (e.g. Dominica). Mangrove are important for charcoal production in some countries. Urban forestry is important in some island countries and Forestry Departments produce ornamental tree seedlings for plantation (e.g. Jamaica). As regards labelling or certification, Suriname has introduced a system to track down logs from forests to markets.
The problem of access to available information was mentioned by some countries where information is managed by a different ministry (e.g. trade statistics). The lack of adequate human and financial resources was mentioned by most countries as an important constraint to the future development of the forestry sector.
2.4. Presentation of the working groups
Two working groups one on forest resources and another on forest products, were formed and were given the task of reviewing the set of documents presented by FAO and discussing the status of and outlook for the forest sector development in the Caribbean.
The Forest Resources Working Group was considering the following aspects:
review the classification, definition and structure of the core forest resources data (i.e. natural forest area, other wooded land, forest types and ecological zones, volume and biomass, protected areas, wood supply potential and changes over time);
review and validate FAO and national statistics on forest resources and document other valuable data sources made available by the participating countries;
discuss problems, constraints, and capacity needs in order to improve present methods of data collection, processing, and dissemination;
analyse existing data on Plantations, NWFPs, and TOF, and suggest improved methods for data collection, analysis and dissemination.
The Forest Products Working Group was asked to consider the following aspects of forest products:
review the classification, definition, and measurement procedures of forest products in participating countries, in order to assess their coverage and socio-economic relevance;
review of country data on production, prices, and trade of forest products, including fuelwood and charcoal, and other relevant forest products other than wood (gums, myrrh, incense, etc.); and
analyse the problems related to data collection, validation, and dissemination by using conventional methodologies and new information technologies.
The two working groups on Forest Resources and Forest Products were also asked to consider in a separate session the outlook for the sector.