Many Asian countries are currently involved in developing and implementing criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. Involvement is generally proceeding in collaboration with existing international initiatives, including those supported by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Montreal Process, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), FAO, and UNEP.
In several countries of the region, however, there is still poor understanding of criteria and indicators and their potential usefulness in supporting sustainable forest management. Moreover, until recently, there was no specific initiative to focus explicitly on the development and implementation of criteria and indicators for the dry forests in the region, which have unique characteristics and management requirements.
The seventeenth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), convened in 1998, recognized the progress of many countries in the region in developing and applying criteria and indicators. At the same time, however, the Commission noted that several countries in the region remained outside the recognized international processes working to implement criteria and indicators. Therefore, the Commission requested its ad hoc Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management to assess issues pertaining to the development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in the region. The FAO Council and the Committee on Forestry endorsed this recommendation at later sessions.
Subsequently, FAO, ITTO, UNEP, USDA Forest Service, and the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) collaborated to promote greater understanding of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, and to integrate Asian countries with dry forests into the international dialogue on criteria and indicators. A major activity was a Workshop on National-level Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Dry Forests in Asia, convened 30 November to 3 December 1999, in Bhopal, India. The report of the Bhopal workshop has been published as a separate publication (RAP Publication 2000/XX).
Several technical background papers were prepared for the Bhopal workshop and help to highlight the special issues associated with managing the dry forests of Asia, and to advance ideas for the development of criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of these forests. This publication is a compilation of those technical background papers.
FAO was privileged to work together with ITTO, UNEP, USDA Forest Service, and IIFM in organizing the workshop, and in preparing these publications. These efforts provide a positive model for cooperation among international, regional, and national forestry organizations. FAO is particularly grateful to Dr. Ram Prasad, Director of IIFM, and his staff, for the outstanding support provided in hosting the workshop.
The workshop in Bhopal gave rise to the Regional Initiative for the Development and Implementation of National-level Criteria and Indicators for the Sustainable Management of Dry Forests in Asia. It is hoped that through this initiative, countries in the region - with continuing support from FAO, ITTO, UNEP and other international organizations - will equip themselves with new and effective means for monitoring progress toward the sustainable management of the important dry forests of Asia.
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative