Over the course of the past fifty years, forestry policy and practice have developed in tandem with an unprecedented multiplication of forestry-related institutions. Soon after the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was created, a series of regional FAO conferences gave rise to the Regional Forestry Commissions (RFCs) as fora for the review and coordination of forestry policy and technical issues. With the growth of FAOs field activities, the RFCs also assumed a key role in communicating the regions priority needs and ambitions to FAO and its governing bodies.
The aim of this document is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) by providing an account of its evolution. The APFC held its inaugural session in Bangkok in 1950. Since then, its original membership of 12 has grown to 29, making it the regions largest and most inclusive inter-governmental body in the field of forestry. Numerous APFC sub-committees and working groups have dealt with a wide range of issues, continuously expanding the state of information about forests and options for development in Asia and the Pacific.
During its 50 years of existence, the APFC has been shaped by periodic landmark events, such as the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Collectively, these events have broadened the field to forestry to include the full spectrum of economic, social and environmental goods and services at local, regional and global levels. As a result, the need for reviewing progress, exchanging experiences and synthesizing lessons learned through institutions like the APFC has never been greater.
This account of the APFCs evolution is aptly subtitled "the first fifty years." It is hoped that readers will be inspired to draw from the experiences of the Commission in their own present and future contributions to the continued unfolding of the APFC and forestry policy and practice in Asia and the Pacific.
Ram B. Singh
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok