4. WORKSHOP CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
On the last day of the workshop, the participants discussed and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations. These are presented for forest resources, forest products and the outlook for the forestry sector. Further details of the presentations made during this session are given in Appendix IV.
4.1. Forest resources
The assessment of forest resources on a regular and systematic basis is not institutionalised in the region. Most assessments are carried out on a case-by-case basis for specific purposes and with the support of external assistance. Institutionalised assessment of forest resources is considered essential to provide the necessary information for:
identification of the extent and location of forest cover classified by forest types;
assessment of the health and value of forests in particular with reference to environmental services;
determination of particular uses of the forest;
economic valuation of forest products and services;
forest management purposes;
improved land use planning in sectors such as urban development; tourism industry; timber production; and protected areas; etc.;
better preparedness for natural disasters in particular storms and fires;
monitoring area changes and the extraction of forest products from forest areas; and
improved monitoring and control over the extraction of forest products (through better records of forest boundaries and ownership).
It was observed that while all countries have some capacity to conduct forest resource assessment, institutional cooperation between different agencies is not fully developed.
In terms of the organization of information, the following points were made:
in general there is no organized system to collect, analyse and distribute forest resource data;
there exists informal research that needs to be systematised; and
the structure of data gathering and organization has to follow national requirements needs and capabilities.
Well defined national vegetation classification schemes will facilitate the data aggregation on regional and international levels. However, in order to facilitate regional and international data aggregations, local definitions should very clearly state their qualitative and quantitative characteristics.
4.2 Forest products
The current status of data and information about forest products and services in the Caribbean varies between countries and type of product. However, a number of common themes emerged in discussions during the Workshop about the quality, accuracy and relevance of the data that is currently collected. The most important issues raised included the following:
Data collection is often infrequent or irregular and suffers from a lack of resources in many cases. In most countries this is due to a lack of staff, but in some cases (e.g. Cuba) it is due to a lack of modern technology for data collection and processing.
In some countries, there is no central focal point for data and information about the forestry sector. This makes it difficult to maintain series of data about the sector and to disseminate information to all interested stakeholders.
Data collection often involves different agencies. For example, Forestry Departments collect information about forestry production, Ministries of Industry or Economic Planning collect information about forest products production and Ministries of Trade or Customs Services collect trade information. There is often little coordination or collaboration between the various agencies involved in this process and Forestry Departments often do not get copies of this information and do not have a complete picture of the whole sector.
In many countries, data collection is only done in the part of the forestry sector managed, owned or supervised by the Forestry Department and there is a lack of data and information about the private sector.
Measurement units are not consistent between countries or between different agencies collecting forest-related data within the same country.
Data on the collection and use of wood fuel and non-wood forest products is particularly lacking. Other important areas where very little data is available include: forest recreation and tourism; forestry's role in watershed management; forest employment; forestry's contribution to the national economy; and the social or community benefits of forestry.
More general environmental information and analysis (e.g. on hydrology, climate and forest soils) is also scarce. This information is very important in order to ascertain forest health and value.
Another important issue raised was that data is often collected but is not analysed to produce value-added information that is useful for forest management, the development of forestry policy and investment in the sector.
In order to increase the amount and relevance of data and information about the forestry sector, improvements are recommended in three main areas: the scope of the data collected; institutional arrangements for data collection; and technical aspects of data collection and analysis.
In terms of the scope of data collected, delegates agreed that more attention should be given to collecting the following types of data:
Woodfuel: in many countries wood fuel data is not available. Surveys should be implemented to collect data on the supply and demand for wood fuel, the main tree species used as wood fuel (including their energy conversion ratio) and the sources of wood fuel (forests, trees outside of forests and wood processing residues).
Non-wood forest products: in many countries very little information is available about non-wood forest products as this is treated as an informal activity. Surveys should be implemented to collect information about the production of non-wood forest products, stocks of non-wood forest products, sustainable harvesting levels and methods of harvesting, market potential, contribution to local economies and the value of non-wood forest products collected and used locally or sold on local and international markets.
Forest recreation and tourism: in nearly all countries very little information is available about the use of forests for recreation and tourism. Surveys should be implemented to collect information about demand for forest based recreation and tourism activities, carrying capacities, marketing potential and the scope for collecting revenues for these services.
Roundwood: information, whenever it is not available, should be collected on round wood production on private land where this is important. Improved control procedures (e.g. permits or licenses) were suggested as one way to do this.
Prices: for the countries with significant forest industries, information about prices should be collected and disseminated. It was noted that transfer pricing might be a problem in many cases.
A general message from the workshop was that, in the Caribbean region, services of the forest are very important and that FAO should not neglect information about these outputs by concentrating solely on wood and non-wood forest products.
In terms of institutional strengthening, three main issues were identified:
Coordination: there needs to better coordination between all agencies involved in collecting data and information about the forestry sector in countries.
Resources: countries need to attract more investment for data collection and analysis in the forestry sector from internal sources and external funding.
Training needs: several countries expressed a desire for training and assistance with methodological development in the area of data collection and analysis.
In terms of the technical aspects of data collection and analysis, countries identified two main needs:
Valuation: countries expressed a strong desire to improve the analysis of forestry data to calculate the total value of forest goods and services and their contribution to national economies.
Measurement conventions: countries agreed that it would be beneficial to standardise units and grading rules for forest products. In the case of non-wood forest products it was noted that, although a certain amount of standardisation would be desirable, this was less important for products that were largely consumed within the country.
4.3 Outlook for the forestry sector
In terms of the outlook discussion, for many countries, it was generally felt that forests would continue to be used and valued largely for their non-wood forest goods and services. In many of the countries where wood production is somewhat significant, it is expected that emphasis will shift towards non-wood outputs, especially in state owned forests and natural forests.
Main regional issues
The main regional issues or constraints identified by the participants were:
deforestation and degradation of forests (Loss of forest cover due to conversion to agriculture or urban area - e.g. Puerto Rico -; degradation due to fuelwood & charcoal production - e.g. Haiti - or timber harvesting);
forest fires and lack of control measures;
vulnerability of island states to natural disasters;
need for more effective land use policy;
need for better enforcement of existing policies and revision of legislation in countries where legislation is weak;
institutional constraints - lack of technical (human resource), financial, organisational resources,
need for active civil society/community participation in policy making;
need for accounting of environmental services from forests;
need for funding/investment.
General and specific trends
The groups identified the following general and specific trends that are shaping the future development of the forestry sector in the Caribbean:
slow but progressive move towards a more sustainable management of forests including the formulation and implementation of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management, for the benefits of citizens;
in terms of commercial timber harvesting, a general move away from natural forests towards forest plantations in many countries;
intensification of watershed management/protection for water production in particular in small island states;
continued development of conservation strategic plan to implement international agreements (e.g. Convention on Biological Diversity; Ramsar; etc.);
continued dependence on imports of forest products;
increased recognition of ecotourism, bio-prospecting and carbon credit trading as alternative forest income;
increased visitation to parks and recreational facilities will eventually necessitate improvement in infrastructure and payment of fees that should be reinvested in the sector; and
continued and increased community involvement in joint forest management.
Specific trends: Specific trends were identified separately for continental countries, large islands and small islands:
Continental countries: Belize, Guyana and Suriname
Belize: Belize is moving away from traditional forest management for timber to forest management for forest services but at the same time intensifying timber management in key areas.
Guyana and Suriname: Guyana and Suriname are expected to change their forest management progressively aiming at improved forest management for the benefits of all citizens.
For the above countries, most important areas of concern are the deforestation due to agriculture - mostly shifting cultivation on marginal lands - and institutional constraints.
Large islands: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
with the exception of Cuba and Dominican Republic, all countries expect a reduction in forest cover. In Jamaica and Haiti, this situation is due to the increased need for agriculture land while in Puerto Rico secondary forests developing on abandoned agricultural land are being lost through urban development.
Small islands: Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and OECS
as land use for commercial agriculture is expected to decrease in some countries, there is a potential of agriculture land to be reverted to forest. On the other hand, tourist development and increased urbanisation may reduced forest cover mainly around cities and villages.
the classification of protected areas, land use policy and institutional constraints are important issues for small islands and need to reflect national needs for multiple use management;
the limited land resource base highlights the imperative of an effective land use policy; and
the small size of governments lead to Institutional constraints, such as lack of technical, financial and organisational resources.
Trees outside Forest (TOF): Specific trends in the management and use of tress outside forests were also identified:
urban forest is increasing in importance in most countries. In almost all countries, there is a recognised need to increase the number of TOF;
in most countries there is a programme to encourage plantations of TOF in urban and rural settings. There is no programme to assess the quantitative and value of TOF;
TOF are mostly for social purposes: collection of fruits, landscape, and recreation, although in some particular cases are planted for fodder, fuel wood, windbreaks, etc. However, there is no programme to assess the quantitative and value of TOF.
After having analysed the issues and identified the likely future trends, the groups proposed policy options to be considered and eventually adopted by countries to achieve desirable future state of forestry in the Caribbean. these include the following:
formulate more effective land use policies;
they should collect and analyse data to provide management strategies for natural and plantation forests;
assessment of current institutional capabilities within Caribbean territories is also important and should be conducted with a view to recommending the definition of roles and responsibilities for data collection and analysis including the review of related legislation;
countries should formulate methods to access funding via private sector, donor agencies and government for capacity strengthening;
public consultation should also become a mandatory part of the planning process;
public awareness campaigns on the role of forestry in national development should be implemented;
"green accounting" should be introduced into the National Accounting System in order to serve as an indicator of the value of the natural resources in the country/region.