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The natural forests used to be the only source of commercial timber in tropical timber producing countries. In the past several years however, governments have begun implementing strict conservation policies, which have curtailed the harvest levels from this fast depleting resource base. To meet their respective wood requirements and at the same time revegetate denuded areas, most tropical countries have started to embark in tree plantation programs. As in any endeavor, there is a felt need to improve on the various aspects, e.g., technical and implementing policies on the existing tree plantation programs in the Asia Pacific Region in order to ensure success.

It is within this context that the Philippine Government held the International Conference on Timber Plantation Development on 7 - 9 November 2000 in Manila, Philippines. The Conference was organized by the Forest Management Bureau of the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the assistance from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In general, the Conference aimed to discuss, share and synthesize lessons learned from various countries on their experiences on timber plantation development. It had the following specific objectives:

The International Conference on Timber Plantation Development was composed of five sessions. Session 1 was focused on developments in plantation forestry from the global and regional (Asia-Pacific) perspective. These included current timber supply and demand scenario and trends in government interventions/policies. Session 2 provided discussions on the economics of plantation forestry including opportunities and constraints for investment consideration. Session 3 tackled technological breakthroughs in plantation forestry and will discuss latest developments in the different aspects of timber plantation management. Session 4 focused on country specific experiences on plantation forestry. Session 5 discussed the contribution of various key elements towards the attainment of a successful timber plantation program.

At the end of the Conference, a list of General Statements and Key Recommendations arising from the Conference was adopted. This document will serve as a basis in making follow-up actions for the improvement of timber plantation development programs in the countries represented.

A total of 74 delegates from 15 countries and five (5) international organizations participated in the Conference.

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