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The forestry experts participating in the meeting on Environmentally Sound Forest Operations for Countries in Transition to Market Economies (Ort/Gmunden, 20–27 September 1998) appreciate the initiative taken by FAO, and express their gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Austria and the Austrian Freedom From Hunger Campaign (FFHC) for their hospitality, the opportunity to organize the meeting and the use of the Forestry Training Centre in Ort/Gmunden.

This meeting of experts offered the opportunity to study achievements registered in the Austrian forest sector and to exchange experiences and information on current issues in the forest sector, in particular in the fields of forest harvesting and engineering.

The experts recognize the differences in methods and levels of transition among the countries undergoing this process, but note a number of shared problems: privatization, restitution, compensation, forms of forestry administration, forestry legislation, sources of financing, the need for forest owners' associations, the roles of the state and private forestry in a market economy, the market situation for small size timber forests and forest accessibility. World-wide concern for the environment, the process of transition and processes caused by transition significantly influence the environmental aspects of forest harvesting and engineering, but at the same time represent a platform for progress towards environmentally sound forest harvesting and engineering.

The most important issues for future expert activity should be: privatization, certification, renewable energy sources, road network planning, forestry training, education and extension, and the development and introduction of environmentally sound and human-friendly forest machines and operations.

The experts recommend that FAO should:

  1. Support the training, extension and education of forest workers, contractors, enterprises and owners in environmentally sound forest operations

  2. Support and coordinate international cooperation in forest resource assessment related to the impact of forest use

  3. Organize case studies of environmentally sound forest machines and operations

  4. Support the setting up of a certification system for forest contractors, and environmental assessment of forest management

  5. Support seminars on road network planning and road construction methods in difficult terrain

  6. Organize regular experts' meetings in countries in transition

  7. Invite representatives of forestry administrations, forestry owners' associations, researchers and NGOs to participate in meetings

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