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III. National Reporting to Forest-related International Instruments: Mandates, Mechanisms, Overlaps and Potential Synergies

by Susan Braatz


Ten international conventions and agreements (or instruments) are identified as being most relevant to forests. National reporting requirements to these instruments, including report periodicity and content, both in general and in regard to forests in particular, are reviewed. In most cases, reporting on measures taken to implement commitments under the instrument consists of qualitative information on activities and means of implementation, such as policy, legislative or institutional measures. In a few cases, however, quantitative biophysical and socio-economic data on forest resources or resource use is required. Most instruments have provisions for information collection, analysis and exchange and for monitoring and assessment. In recognition of the need for quantitative data to assess impact of the measures taken, many of the instruments are working to develop impact indicators. Several of the instruments with a strong sustainable development dimension, are using or considering use of criteria and indicators developed under regional or international processes for sustainable forest management. These indicators represent a potential pivot point around which efforts for harmonization of information and data needs on forests can be focused. Efforts that are under way on harmonization of reporting on sustainable development, biological diversity, and forests are reviewed.

International conventions and agreements related to forests

In the absence of a global forest convention, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) serves as the main forum for international policy deliberations on forests. The work of the UNFF has been defined by the agreements made on forests at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)59 and by the proposals for action agreed upon by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) between 1995 and 2000. The UNFF is part of a broader process of UNCED follow-up, supported by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD is a functional commission of the United Nations set up in 1993 to review progress, elaborate policy guidance, promote dialogue and build partnerships to facilitate the implementation of commitments made at UNCED.

In addition to the UNFF, which is a "soft-law" instrument, there are a number of legally binding international instruments that include articles and decisions that address forests or forest resources. They are as follows:

• Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
• Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
• Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
• Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention)
• International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA)
• Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention - WHC)
• United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
• United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The table in Annex 1 provides information on the nine instruments and the CSD, including the year of entry into force/establishment, number of Parties/members, and objectives and relevance to forests of each instrument.

Some distinguishing characteristics of the nine conventions are as follows:

• UNFF and ITTA are the only instruments focused specifically on forests and forest resources. The other instruments address forests in the context of environmental conservation (i.e., conservation of biological diversity, mitigation of climate change and combating desertification).

• CITES, CMS, Ramsar and WHC are concerned primarily with the conservation of biological diversity. CITES and CMS focus on conservation at the species level. Ramsar and WHC address the ecosystem level through the conservation of sites of international importance. The conservation of biological diversity is a major objective of the CBD, but the Convention's other objectives (sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits of biological diversity) give CBD a strong sustainable development dimension.

• UNFF, CBD, UNCCD, ITTA, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, UNFCCC, have a sustainable development emphasis. The wider scope of these five instruments gives them greater relevance to overall forest policy than the other four instruments.

National reporting to key forest-related international instruments and to the CSD

Parties or members are committed to report on measures that they have taken to implement their commitments under the instrument and, in some cases, information and data related to progress in achieving them. The instruments' texts provide the mandate for reporting by Parties/members to the decision-making body of the instrument. Annex 2 provides the reference article mandating reporting under the nine instruments and the CSD, as well information on the periodicity of reporting, reporting guidelines, and more detailed information on the content of national reports. The forest-related content of national reports under the various instruments is summarized below.

CITES, CMS, Ramsar and WHC

National reports to CITES and CMS contain information related to the status of, and conservation efforts targeted at, species on their respective Appendices, which list species that are endangered, threatened or have an unfavourable conservation status. National reports to CITES consist of statistical information on trade in those species on the CITES Appendices. The CITES secretariat maintains the Appendices lists and quantitative time-series databases of species trade statistics. CITES Appendices include 15 timber or woody species, some of which are commercially important. National reports to CMS provide information, mostly qualitative, on steps taken to protect species on CMS' Appendices, raise awareness of the role of CMS, provide financing, and implement resolutions of the Conference of the Parties (COP). Forests are relevant in that they are habitat to some of the species listed on the CMS Appendices. At its sixth session, the COP in 1999 approved the launching of an Information Management Plan. This includes the development of a database on listed species (COP 6 Resolution 6.5).

Ramsar and WHC focus on the conservation and management of specific protected areas. Ramsar is concerned with internationally important wetlands, a third of which are forested wetlands (1999 figure). The List of Wetlands on International Importance ("Ramsar sites") is a database of site information, mainly in narrative form. WHC focuses on sites of cultural and natural significance, including many forest sites. The WHC maintains the World Heritage List, compiled from member States inventories. When a country becomes a member State of WHC, it is obliged to submit an inventory of property (location and significance) situated on its territory and suitable for inclusion on the list. National reports to Ramsar provide information on measures taken to promote membership, implement the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines, increase institutional capacity, promote international cooperation and mobilize financial assistance. Parties to the WHC must report on steps taken related to identify national heritage properties, legislative and administrative provisions and other actions taken for the application of the WHC, and the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties located on its territories.


National reporting to the CSD on implementation of the chapters of Agenda 21 provides a comprehensive picture of progress made in sustainable development since UNCED a decade ago. This provides a wider context for the four forest-related instruments that arose from UNCED: UNFF, CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC. Countries are asked to provide national reports each year on specific topic areas. They submitted national reports on forests in 2000. Country Profiles, providing an overall picture of progress in sustainable development across all chapters of Agenda 21, are compiled from the national report. The first Country Profile was prepared in 1997. It was updated in 2002 for the purposes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (the WSSD or Rio +10), to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in August/September 2002.


National reports to the CBD provide information on the implementation of commitments under the Convention, as defined in its Articles. The first national report (1997) focused on Article 6 -- conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The second National Report (submitted in 2001 for discussion at COP 6 in April 2002) consists of a series of questions based on the Articles of the Convention and related decisions of the COPs addressed to Parties of the CBD. While several of the articles have some relation to forest biological diversity, those with the most direct relevance to sustainable forest management are: Article 8 (in-situ conservation); Article 8j (traditional knowledge), Article 9 (ex-situ conservation); and Article 10 (sustainable use of biological diversity).

In addition to the national reports, Parties were invited to submit a thematic report on forest ecosystems for consideration at COP 6. The thematic report provides information on the implementation of the three programme elements of the work programme on forest biological diversity, specifically: 1) the application of the ecosystem approach, 2) analysis of human influence on forest biological diversity and assessment of means to minimize negative influences, and 3) elaboration of the implementation of criteria and indicators for forest biological diversity. An expanded programme of work on forest biological diversity was approved at COP 6, and Parties have been invited to report through a voluntary thematic report to COP 7 in 2004 on their implementation of this programme (Decision VI/22).


Each Party to the Convention is required to communicate to the COP the measures undertaken to implement the UNCCD. The content of the reports differ slightly depending on into which category(ies) a Party falls:

Information provided in these reports have relevance to sustainable forest management, in particular on measures taken in the NAP to improve natural resource conservation, monitoring and assessment of effects of drought and participatory processes used in NAP.


Each Party to the UNFCCC is to submit initially and at certain intervals thereafter a National Communication, including:

In addition, each developed country Party and each other Party included in Annex I of the Convention should report on:

Each developed country Party in Annex I and developed country Party included in Annex II, report on measures taken related to technology transfer and provision of financial resources.

Since 1996, all countries listed in Annex 1 of the Convention must also provide an annual national inventory of GHG sources and sinks.

The methodology for the calculations for the inventory figures is provided by the Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In order to carry out the national inventory, very specific data on forests and forest resources are required, mainly for the calculations of GHGs in the land-use change and forestry section but also for some in the energy section. Data are needed on forest area and biomass stocks, changes in area and biomass, non-forest trees, removal of wood by timber harvesting and for fuelwood consumption, conversion of forest to other uses, CO2 emissions/removals from soils, as well as GHG emissions from combustion of woody biomass and from the pulp, paper and print industries.


Modalities for national reporting to the UNFF do not yet exist, although the elements constituting the monitoring, assessment and reporting (MAR) function of UNFF have been identified. At the first session of UNFF in 2001 (see E/2001/42/Rev.1), it was agreed that the MAR function would consist of the following:

Furthermore, UNFF 1 invited countries, regions, organizations and processes to report to the UNFF, on a voluntary basis, on their progress in implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action. It also stressed the importance of the use of regional and national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (SFM) as a basis for reporting on SFM.

Many of the IPF/IPP proposals for action address monitoring, assessment and reporting and related activities, such as a common understanding of forest-related concepts, terminology and definitions; streamlining reporting; and resource assessment and information management.

An ad hoc expert group is expected to be established after the third session of UNFF (May/June 2003) and will develop proposals for UNFF's consideration on the MAR function of UNFF. In the meantime, the UNFF Secretariat will develop a reporting format for the purposes of national reports on implementation of proposals for action related to the agenda of UNFF 3.


Parties to ITTA, 1994 are to provide statistics and information on timber, timber trade and activities aimed at achieving sustainable management of timber producing forests. Members are asked to submit data annually on their national production, trade, supply, stocks, consumption, and prices of tropical timber for the "Annual Review and Assessment of the World Tropical Timber Situation" of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

Members are to supply other statistical data and specific indicators, as requested by the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), and to report on activities aimed at achieving sustainable forest management and on progress towards ITTO΄s Year 2000 Objective.60 At its 24th session (May 1998), the ITTC strongly urged member countries to apply the (revised) ITTO Criteria and Indicators for reporting in relation to the Year 2000 Objective (Decision 3 XXIV). At its 30th session the ITTC encouraged Member countries (Decision 9 XXX) to submit their first National level report by the end of 2001 using the ITTO reporting format (ITTO, 2001). ITTO will publish the "Status of Tropical Forest Management Report", largely based on the national reports provided.

The reporting format for the national level report is extremely detailed, calling for both qualitative and quantitative information on the ITTO indicators of the following criteria for sustainable forest management (SFM):

Information and indicators in the forest-related instruments

As indicated above, national reporting on implementation of commitments under these nine forest-related instruments is diverse in approach, content and degree of detail. What is apparent is that the information requested is most often descriptive and is focused on measures taken related to policy, legislation, capacity building, financing, or other "means of implementation." Only a few instruments require Parties to provide, on a regular basis, quantitative information related to forests or forest resources. Those that do are CITES (on species trade), ITTA (on timber trade and indicators of sustainable forest management) and UNFCCC (on GHG emissions and removals from forests and forest resource use).

The information provided by national reports on measures taken to implement the instrument is essential for making an overall assessment of progress in the implementation of the instrument. Several of the instruments have identified implementation indicators for this purpose. This information, however, is not sufficient to assess the impact of the measures taken in achieving the goals of the instrument. For that kind of assessment, quantifiable data, such as on the status and trends in resources, are needed.

Most of the instruments have provisions for information and data collection, analysis and exchange (e.g. Article 4 of CBD, Article 16 of UNCCD, Article 4 of UNFCCC), for, among other purposes, monitoring and assessment. However, what data to be collected and how to fulfill international data needs is in most cases not defined.

In order to provide for global assessments of the state and change of the resource (forest, land affected by desertification, biological diversity) and to assess the impact of a convention or agreement, commonly agree impact indicators are needed. Several international instruments addressed here are now working to define indicators.

There is a risk that, as work continues under the various instruments to identify indicators for monitoring and assessing impact, that if different indicators are chosen countries' reporting requirements will be compounded and complicated, increasing the burden of complying with them. The important role that sustainable development indicators can play in helping countries make informed decisions and the need for harmonization of efforts to develop such indicators was internationally recognized at UNCED and embodied in Chapter 40 of Agenda 21. The United Nations has recently published a set of indicators of sustainable development that can help harmonize efforts to assess progress toward sustainable development goals (UN, 2001).

Many of the forest-related instruments discussed here are working on indicators. The work of the UNCCD and CBD is summarized below.

The UNCCD began working to develop benchmarks and indicators even before it entered into force. It has identified implementation indicators, but work is still underway to identify: a) the type of data needed to assess the status and trends of desertification and b) impact indicators to monitor biophysical, socio-economic and institutional impacts of the NAPs. To date, 14 primary impact indicators have been identified that are relevant in the African context. These were discussed by the Committee on Science and Technology in October 2001 (see report ICCD/COP(5)/CST/7). The CST recommended that these indicators be further defined and also considered by other regions, with a view to developing common sub-regional or regional indicators.

The CBD has been working for several years to develop a set of indicators that can be used to monitor and assess biological diversity. A core set of indicators was considered at the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Science, Technology and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in 1997 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/INF.13). A second set was developed and presented to SBSTTA 7 in November 2001 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/7/12). COP 6 decided that an ad hoc expert group should be convened to refine the indicators further (Decision VI/7). COP advised that regional approaches to indicator development be promoted and that these processes are taken into account in the development of the CBD's indicators. Specifically, the COP 6 decision on forest biological diversity:

Recognizes existing criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management including forest biological diversity at the national and regional levels, and agrees that these should be applied where criteria and indicators are needed for the purposes of the expanded work programme, and recognizes the need for further development and selection of criteria and indicators for the assessment of the status and trends of forest biological diversity at the national and regional levels (Decision VI/22, para. 34)

Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management

Criteria and indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest management (SFM) were developed to provide countries with a framework for defining SFM and assessing progress toward this goal. Criteria and indicators are tools to help identify trends in the forest sector, determine the effects of forest management interventions over time, and facilitate decision making in national forest policy processes.

Criteria define essential elements against which the sustainability of forest management is judged. Each criterion is defined by indicators, which are monitored periodically to provide an indication of whether a country is moving towards or away from sustainability.

ITTO began work on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in 1990. Today there are nine major C&I processes, involving approximately 150 countries and covering most of the world's forested area.61

The processes are similar in objectives and approach, but differ somewhat in content and structure. They have all developed criteria and indicators for use at the national level. The criteria identified by the processes correspond fairly closely, all incorporating, in some fashion, the following fundamental elements of SFM:

As discussed above, national reporting to ITTO Year 2000 Objective is based on the ITTO Criteria and Indicators. UNFF has recognized criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management as a basis for reporting on SFM. CBD has also recognized criteria and indicators for SFM as useful to its work on forest biological diversity.

There is clearly strong acceptance of criteria and indicators of SFM as the basis for impact indicators related to forests. This convergence offers potential for harmonization of information across the forest-related instruments and improvement of reporting on forests. This was indicated in a proposal for action agreed upon by the IPF in 1997, which "recommended that criteria and indicators be used by FAO and other relevant organizations in order to improve consistency in reporting on forest assessment and sustainable forest management." (E/CN.17/1997/12, paragraph 115(e))

Concerns over the reporting burden on countries: efforts to harmonize reporting to international instruments

The burden on countries to fulfil the various international reporting requirements was noted in a Report of the Secretary-General to the fifth session of the CSD in 1997, as follows:

Streamlining of reporting on sustainable development

The CSD report made various proposals for the streamlining of requests within the UN context for national reporting on sustainable development issues. The focus was on streamlining the reporting process, rather than on streamlining the content of the reports, which respond to legal commitments or legislative mandates. It was agreed that countries would not need to report separately to the CSD on issues in which they report to Conference of the Parties of international conventions and other intergovernmental bodies. The country need only make these reports available to the CSD secretariat.

Another proposal made to CSD 5 was to have a UN system-wide sustainable development website developed, which would not only provide all national reports to the CSD but would have electronic linkages to reports and databases of related UN conventions. The Secretariat to the CSD is currently working on this site, with hopes to have it available in the near future. As well as linking to national reports to international bodies, it would provide links to national databases on environment and development, where possible.

Harmonization of reporting on biological diversity

Over the past few years, some major initiatives have been taken to streamline national reporting on biological diversity, in particular to the five biodiversity conventions: CBD, CITES, CMS, Ramsar and WHC.

In 1998 the secretariats of these five treaties and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) to undertake a feasibility study to identify opportunities for harmonizing information management between the treaties. In October 2000, UNEP convened a workshop in Cambridge, U.K. to explore ideas for a more harmonized approach to national reporting to international agreements and to develop pilot projects for testing the ideas at national and international levels (WCMC, 2000). Pilot project ideas were proposed for testing various approaches to information management: modular reporting, consolidated reporting, linking reporting to State of Environment reporting processes, and information management and regional support. The pilot projects are underway in four countries.

Another initiative has been taken by the Environmental Management Group (EMG). The EMG is a forum for UN agencies and secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements as a mechanism for enhancing interagency cooperation in the field of environment and human settlements. The EMG is chaired by UNEP. At its first meeting in January 2001, the EMG identified harmonization of environmental reporting, with a focus on biodiversity-related conventions, as needing additional attention. A background paper was prepared and discussed at the EMG's third meeting in October (UNEP 2001). The results of the analysis have contributed to documentation prepared for the WSSD on enhancing complementarities among international agencies.

At a regional level, the European Environment Agency is working on a project to streamline reporting systems for the 64 environmental agreements to which the European Commission is a party (EEA, 2001).

Harmonization of reporting on forests

The concern over reporting burden has also been strongly expressed in the international forest dialogue. A proposal for action (19a) of the IPF encouraged:

"countries, ITFF62 member organizations and other relevant international and regional organizations to develop harmonized, cost-effective, comprehensive reporting formats for collecting and synthesizing national forest information to meet the diverse demands for reliable and timely data by various forest-related international organizations and instruments. There is a need to incorporate information on relevant criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, including indicators on environmental, social and economic functions .... into such reporting formats in order to reduce reporting burdens on countries and increase the timeliness and consistency of reporting." (E/CN.17/2000/14)

The UNFF, at its second session (March 2002), invited "the Collaborative Partnership on Forests members to streamline reporting requests and, to the extent possible, to synchronize their reporting cycles so as to reduce reporting burden on countries" (E/CN.18/2002/14).

In April 2002, the CBD, by Decision VI/22, adopted the expanded work programme on forest biological diversity, which includes as one of its activities to "seek ways of streamlining reporting between the different forest-related processes, in order to improve the understanding of forest quality change and improve consistency in reporting on sustainable forest management" (Programme element 2, goal 1, objective 2, activity a).

A few preliminary efforts have been taken to date to on the issue of harmonizing reporting on forests, as follows:

There is strong potential to build on these efforts and those on harmonization of reporting on sustainable development and on biological diversity. The three efforts should be compatible and complementary.

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests is in the process of establishing a "CPF Task Force on Streamlining Forest-related Reporting Requirements". The CPF was established in 2001 to support the work of the UNFF and to increase cooperation and collaboration on forests among its members. The CPF consists of 13 international organizations, institutions and instruments that have substantial programmes on forests. They are: FAO (Chair), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), ITTO, International Center for Research in Agroforestry, Secretariat of the CBD, Secretariat of the Global Environment Facility, Secretariat of the UNCCD, Secretariat of the UNFCCC, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Development Programme, UNEP, the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The objective of the Task Force is to propose ways to streamline forest-related reporting requests, synchronize reporting cycles and facilitate the provision of information by CPF members in order to reduce the reporting burden on countries.


The UNFF is the international instrument with exclusive focus on forests and the most comprehensive coverage. Although its predecessors, the IPF and IFF, adopted many proposals for action related to monitoring, assessment and reporting, the modalities for reporting to the UNFF itself have not yet been agreed upon.

National reporting to the other eight instruments and the CSD vary in their nature and content. The forest-related content of CITES, CMS, Ramsar and WHC, while relevant, is limited in scope.

The other five instruments - UNFF, ITTO, CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC - all have considerable forest content and a strong sustainable development dimension. These five are most relevant to the issue of comprehensive international reporting on forests. National reports to UNFCCC and ITTO are strongly quantitative, whereas the content of national reports to CBD and UNCCD are qualitative, focusing on the means of implementing commitments under these conventions. Perhaps because of the difficulty of assessing the impact of their actions without quantitative measures, both CBD and UNCCD have been working to identify impact indicators, or biophysical and socio-economic indicators on which quantitative data can be collected.

There seems to be a very promising convergence of acceptance of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management as the basis for assessing the state and trends in forests, forest resource use and the equitable sharing of the benefits of that use. UNFF, ITTO and CBD have all accepted the criteria and indicators of SFM as the basis for assessing progress in their forest-related work.

Various important efforts are under way on streamlining and harmonizing reporting on sustainable development, biological diversity, and forests. The work to develop proposals for the streamlining of forest reporting anticipated to be undertaken by a CPF Task Force, can build upon similar efforts carried out for sustainable development by the CSD and on biological diversity by the five biodiversity conventions.

Literature cited

CSD. 1997. Proposals for the streamlining of requests for national reporting. E/CN.17/1997/6.

European Environment Agency. 2001. EEA support to the European Community in reporting obligations within the framework of international environmental conventions. EEA Technical report 62.

Forestry Agency, Japan. 2002. Proceedings of the International Expert Meeting on Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting on the Progress toward Sustainable Forest Management, Yokohama, Japan, 5-8 November 2001.

Harrison, J. and Collins, M. 1999. Harmonizing the information management infrastructure for biodiversity-related treaties. Paper prepared for the "Interlinkages-International Conference on Synergies and Coordination between Multilateral Environmental Agreements, UN University, Tokyo, Japan, 14-16 July 1999.

ITTO. 2001. Reporting formats for the ITTO criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management of natural tropical forests. ITTC (XXX)/12, 20 April 2001. Available electronically at

Tarasofky, R.G. and Oberthuer, S. 2000. Forest-related multilateral environmental agreements: a survey of provisions and interactions. Paper presented at the Workshop on Finding Synergies between Forest-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements, Berlin, Germany, 7-8 December 2000. (

UN. 2001. Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies. NY, UN.

UNCCD. 2001. Benchmarks and indicators. Note of the Secretariat on the Report of the Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) on their initiative on the development of benchmarks and indicators. (ICCD/COP(5)/CST/7).

UNDP. 1997. Synergies in National Implementation: the Rio Agreements. NY, UNDP.

UNEP. 2001. Harmonization of information management and reporting for biodiversity-related treaties. (Prepared for the third meeting of the Environmental Management Group, 10 October 2001)

WCMC. 2000. Towards the harmonization of national reporting. Report of a workshop convened by UNEP. Cambridge, UK, 30-31 October 2000. (see

Annex 1

International conventions and agreements related to forests


Date: entry into force or establishment

Status of participation


Relevance to forests

Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)


53 members elected for terms of three years. All UN member States may participate in sessions, but without voting rights.

    To review progress in implementation of recommendations and commitments made at UNCED, elaborate policy guidance and options for future activities to follow up UNCED and achieve sustainable development, and to promote dialogue and build partnerships for sustainable development.

Commitments made at UNCED include Chapter 11 ("Combating deforestation" of Agenda 21) and the "Forest Principle" (i.e., the "Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests".

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals


1 November 1983

79 Parties (as of Feb. 2002)

To conserve wild animal species that migrate across or outside national boundaries by developing and implementing cooperative agreements, prohibiting taking of endangered species, conserving habitat, and controlling other adverse factors.

Forests are important habitats to some migratory species listed on the appendices of the CMS (i.e., endangered species and species with an unfavourable conservation status). Range States for these species are to conserve and restore habitats critical for the species' survival.

Convention on Biological Diversity


29 December 1993

183 Parties (as of March 2002)

The conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.

Many of the articles of the convention relate to the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources, including forest resources. Those most relevant to sustainable forest management are:

• Article 7, which requires Parties to identify and monitor components of biological diversity important for conservation and sustainable use, and to identify processes and activities with adverse impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

• Article 8, which address in situ conservation, including within and outside protected areas, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, and actions to minimize negative impacts of alien species

• Article 8j, which addresses the roles and rights of traditional and local communities related to forests

• Article 10, which addresses sustainable use of biological diversity.

At COP 4 in 1998, a work programme on forest biological diversity was adopted. An expanded programme was adopted at COP 6 in 2002.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

1 July 1975

158 Parties (as of June 2002)

To prevent the overexploitation, due to international trade, of species listed in the Convention's appendices. Various levels of control or restrictions are placed on the trade of these species.

Some 15 timber or woody species, some of which are commercially important, are included on CITES appendices.

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention)

21 December 1975

132 Parties (as of June 2002)

Wetland conservation and wise use, recognizing wetlands as ecosystems that are extremely important for biodiversity conservation in general and for the well-being of human communities.

Ramsar promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands considered internationally important, including mangroves and forested peatlands. As of November 1999, 306 of the 1028 sites on the Convention's List of Wetlands of International Importance were forested wetlands.

International Tropical Timber Agreement


1 January 1997 for an initial period of four years (Successor agreement to ITTA, 1983).

57 members (as of July 2001)

To provide an effective framework for consultation, international cooperation and policy development among all members with regard to all relevant aspects of the world timber economy, including international trade in tropical timber, and to enhance the capacity of members to implement a strategy for achieving exports of tropical timber from sustainably managed sources.

While primarily a commodity agreement aimed at regulating international trade in tropical timber, the scope of ITTA and the work of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) also includes forest conservation and management issues. In 1990 the ITTA Council adopted the Year 2000 Objective, which states that exports of tropical timber should be from sustainably managed sources by the year 2000. Much of the work of ITTO relates to policy development and projects.

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

(World Heritage Convention - WHC)

17 December 1975

167 Parties (as of May 2002)

To define and conserve the world's cultural and natural heritage, by drawing up a list of sites (the World Heritage List) whose outstanding values should be preserved for all humanity and to ensure their protection through closer collaboration among nations.

Of the 721 sites currently on the World Heritage List, 41 are tropical forests and many are temperate and boreal forests.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries

Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa (UNCCD)

26 December 1996

179 Parties (as of May 2002)

To combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, particularly in Africa, in an integrated approach aimed at contributing to sustainable development in affected areas.

UNCCD addresses biophysical and socio-economic aspects of desertification and the effects of drought. The aspects of the Convention that are particularly relevant to forests include vegetation conservation and traditional knowledge.

United Nations Forum on Forests


18 October 2000

Membership open to all member States of the UN

To promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen political commitment to this end.

UNFF is recognized as the foremost forum for discussion of international forest policy. The UNFF is primarily concerned with facilitating the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action, which represent an international forest policy agenda.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


21 March 1994

186 Parties (as of Dec. 2001)

To stabilize greenhouse-gas (GHG) concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, and to achieve this level within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Forest play an important role in mitigating climate change through serving as reservoirs, sinks and sources of GHGs, particularly carbon. Forests are addressed directly or indirectly in several provisions of the UNFCCC (Articles 4.2, 4.1(c) and 4.1 (d)) and its Kyoto Protocol (Article 3.4). Parties to the Convention committed themselves to carrying out national inventories of GHG emissions and carbon sinks, including forests. Sustainable forest management, reduction of deforestation, and afforestation and reforestation are all included in UNFCCC as measures to mitigate climate change. The Kyoto Protocol (not yet entered into force) identified quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments by Parties, which can be met by, among other actions, afforestation, reforestation and (avoided) deforestation. Joint implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism offer potential opportunity for financial transfers between Parties wishing to meet some of their commitments through forest-related activities in other countries.

Annex 2

National Reporting to International Conventions, Agreements and Commission on Sustainable Development


(and mandate for reporting)

Guidelines for reporting, and national reports and databases, with website addresses

Periodicity / date(s) of issue63

Content of national reports

Commission on Sustainable Development


Country profiles

(based on national reports submitted to CSD)

available at:

National reports: status of implementation of the Agenda 21 chapters and other issues to be discussed at that year's CSD session

*National reports on forests were provided for CSD 8 (2000)

National assessment reports: self-appraisal of the country's efforts to implement Agenda 21 over the 10-year period since UNCED.

Every five years

1997: Prepared for the Earth Summit +5.

2002: Updated for World Summit on Sustainable Development.




A report on each of the chapters of Agenda 21, including information on the status of cross-sectoral issues (decision-making structures, capacity building/technology issues, finance, regional/international cooperation) and statistical data/indicators

1. Brief statement of current situation of SFM and achievements

2. Progress in the implementation of IPF/IFF proposals for action

3. Policy and legal framework

4. Information: participation in criteria and indicators (C&I) processes; use of C&I for reporting and policy purposes; dissemination of information on SFM

5. Overriding issues (forestry-poverty linkages; consumption and production trends)

Policy measures taken, specific challenges encountered and constraints faced.

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals


(Article VI)

The model format provided by Resolution 4.1 (1994), has been updated for voluntary use on a trial basis for COP 7 (Sept 2002).


Every three years

New reporting format:

Appendix I species: general information on steps taken to protect species; species specific information on population size, trends and distribution, efforts in research, monitoring and habitat protection

Appendix II species: CMS agreements Party has undertaken to conserve species

Role conservation of migratory species plays in national and regional priorities

Use of satellite telemetry

Membership - steps taken to encourage non-Parties to join CMS

Actions taken to increase national and global awareness of importance of CMS

Mobilization of resources

Implementation of COP Resolutions

Convention on Biological Diversity


(Article 26)

National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Guidelines for reporting (second report)Ρ

or UNEP/CBD/COP/5/13/Add.2

Access to national reports:

Thematic Reports (on thematic programme areas of the CBD; timetable decided by COP)

Thematic Report on Forests (considered by COP6, April 2002)

Guidelines for reporting:

Access to reports:

Voluntary thematic national report on the implementation of the expanded programme of work on forest biological diversity

Every four years

    First report: 1997

    Second report: 2001

    Third report: 2005



Contents of first National Report: implementation of Article 6

Contents of second National Report:

Reporting on the implementation of the articles of the Convention and related COP decisions addressed to Contracting Parties, including on the following Articles:

5 (Cooperation); 6 (General measures for conservation and sustainable use); 7 (Identification and monitoring); 8 (In-situ conservation); 9 (Ex-situ conservation); 10 (Sustainable use of biological diversity); 11 (Incentive measures); 12 (Research and training); 13 (Public education and awareness); 14 (Impact assessment and minimizing adverse impacts); 15 (Access to genetic resources); 16 (Access to and transfer of technology); 17 (Exchange of information); 18 (Technical and scientific cooperation); 19 (Handling of biotechnology and distribution of its benefits); 20 (Financial resources); 21 (Financial mechanism); 22 (Relationship with other international conventions); 23 (Conference of the Parties); 24 (Secretariat); 25 (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice); 26 (Reports)

Reporting on implementation of the work programme on forest biological diversity (Decision IV/7):

Element 1: Ecosystem approach

Element 2: Analysis of the ways human activities influence biological diversity and assessment of ways to minimize or mitigate negative influences

Element 3: Elaboration and implementation of criteria and indicators for forest biological diversity

Decision VI/22 calls for Parties to submit voluntary reports on the implementation of the expanded work programme on forest biological diversity to COP 7, including the following information:

1. Priority actions that Parties have identified

2. Successes in implementing the programme

3. Challenge and impediment

The report format to be prepared by the CBD secretariat and approved by the Bureau of the COP.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora


(Article VIII, para. 7)

CITES Annual Reports

Reporting guidelines:

Biennial Reports



Reporting on statistics on trade of species included in the CITES Appendices, including the kind and quantity of specimens, country of origin or destination, purpose of trade, source of specimens, and permit or certificate number.

Report on legislative, regulatory and administrative measures taken to enforce the provisions of CITES.

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat

(Ramsar Convention)

National Reports

Reporting format for national reports to COP8 (2002)

Every three years

Reporting on measures taken to:

1. Increase Ramsar membership

2. Implement and further develop the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines

3. Raise awareness of wetland values and functions

4. Reinforce institutional capacity

5. Ensure conservation of all sites on the Ramsar List

6. Increase the number of Ramsar sites, particularly of under-represented wetlands types

7. Promote international cooperation and mobilize financial assistance

8. Provide the Convention with required institutional mechanisms and resources

United Nations Forum on Forests


(Ecosoc Resolution 2000/35)

Not yet available

The UNFF Secretariat to suggest a format for country reports to UNFF 3 on implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action. Thereafter, an ad hoc expert group shall provide advice to UNFF on monitoring, assessment and reporting.

To be determined

No reporting modalities have as yet been decided. UNFF 1:

a) identified the three areas for UNFF's monitoring, assessment and reporting function as:

• Progress in implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action;

• Progress towards sustainable management of all types of forests; and

• Review of the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests.

b) invited countries, regions, organizations and processes to report to the UNFF, on a voluntary basis, on their progress in implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action,

c) stressed the importance of the use of regional and national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (SFM) as a basis for reporting on SFM

International Tropical Timber Agreement


(Article 29)

ITTO/UNECE/FAO/EUROSTAT Joint Forest Sector Questionaire (for use in the ITTO Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation )

Input to Year 2000 Objective Review

Reporting format:


1. Production and trade of all timber by ITTO Producers and Consumers

2. Direction of trade in volume of primary tropical timber products between major ITTO Producers and Consumers

3. Major tropical species traded

4. Prices of major tropical timber and selected competing softwood products

5. Trade in secondary processed wood products

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

(World Heritage Convention)


(Article 29)

Periodic Reporting on the application of the World Heritage Convention

Reporting Guidelines:64

Reporting format:

Explanatory notes:

Reports not available on the Web

Each State Party reports every 6 years

(with rotation by region)

Arab States 2000
Africa 2001
Asia & Pacific 2002
Latin Am & Caribbean 2003
Europe & N. America 2004/2005

Section 1: Application of the WHC by State Party

1.1. Introduction

1.2. Identification of cultural and national heritage properties

1.3. Protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage

1.4. International co-operation and fund raising

1.5. Education, information and awareness building

1.6. Conclusions and recommended actions

Section 2: State of conservation of specific World Heritage properties

II.1. Introduction

II.2. Statement of significance

II.3. Statement of authenticity/integrity

II.4. Management

II.5. Factors affecting property

II.6. Monitoring

II.7. Conclusions and recommended action

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification


(Article 26)

(also decision 11/COP.1)

UNCCD National Reports

First reporting

1999 - affected African countries

2000 - other affected countries

1999/2000 - non affected countries

Second reporting

2002 - all regions

Reporting will be done for each future ordinary session (2003, 2005, 2007 ... etc.), with non-affected countries reporting to every session, and affected countries reporting to every other session, alternating between African countries and countries in other regions

(a) Reports on national action programmes

    • Strategies and priorities of sustainable development plans and/or policies

    • Institutional measures taken to implement UNCCD

    • Participatory process used in national action programme (NAP)

    • Consultative process used in NAP and partnerships with developed country Parties

    • Measures taken or planned in NAP, i.a. to improve: economic environment, natural resource conservation, institutional organization, knowledge of desertification; and to monitor and assess drought effects

    • National and financial allocations and financial and technical assistance received

    • Benchmarks and progress indicators

(b) Reports on joint, subregional and regional action programmes (SRAPs and RAPs, repectively)

    • Areas of cooperation under the programme and

    measures taken or planned

    • Consultative process used in the preparation and implementation of the SRAPs or RAPs and partnership agreements with developed country Parties and other interested entities

    • Financial allocations by affected country Parties of the subregion or region in support of implementation and financial assistance and technical cooperation received and needed

    • Benchmarks and progress indicators used

(c) Reports of developed country Parties

    • Consultative process and partnership agreements in which they are involved

    • Measures taken to support the preparation and implementation of action programmes at all levels, including information on the financial resources they have provided, or are providing, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

(d) Reports of affected developed country Parties not preparing action programmes

    Strategies and priorities, within the framework of sustainable development plans and/or policies, to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought and any relevant information on their implementation.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


(Article 12)

National Communication

Guidelines for Annex 1 Parties:

(under revision: to be addressed at COP 8)

Guidelines for Annex 1I Parties:

Decision 10/CP.2 (not available on web)

Communications available at:

National Inventory (Annex 1 countries)

UNFCCC guidelines provide a common reporting format

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Guidelines for National GHG Inventories (IPFF Guidelines) provide methodology

Each Annex I Party shall make its initial communica-tion within six months of the entry into force of the Convention for that Party.

Each other Party shall make its initial communication within three years of the en-try into force of the Con-vention for that Party, or of the availability of financial resources in accordance. Least developed country Parties make their initial communication at their discretion.


Annex I Parties: report of implementation of commitments under Articles 4.1 and 12, including:

• Greenhouse gas inventory information

• Policies and measures

• Projections and the total effect of policies and measures

• Vulnerability assessment, climate change impacts and adaptation measures

• Financial resources and technology transfer

• Research and systematic observation

• Education, training and public awareness

Balance of GHG emissions and removals from:

in energy section:

• from woody biomass combustion

• from pulp, paper and print industries

in land -use change and forestry:

• changes in forest and other woody biomass stocks

- in forests, distinguishing between tropical, temperate, and boreal; plantations and other forests; various species; non-forest trees - removed in commercial harvest, traditional fuelwood consumption, other wood use

• forest and grassland conversion

- distinguishing between various types of tropical, temperate and boreal forests

- distinguishing between immediate release by fire and delayed release from decay

• abandonment of managed lands

- areas and rate of regrowth of various types of tropical, temperate and boreal forests

• CO2 emission/removals from soil

- area of cultivation of different types of soils

59 including Chapter 11 ("Combating deforestation") of Agenda 21 and the "Forest Principles"

60 ITTO adopted the Year 2000 Objective in 1991 as the strategy by which all its member countries would progress towards achieving trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed forests by the year 2000.

61 African Timber Organization (1993), Dry Forest Africa (1999), ITTO (1992) Dry Zone Africa (1995), Lepaterique Porcess (Central America)(1997), Montreal Process (1995), Pan-European Forest Process (1993), Tarapoto Proposal (1995), Near East Process (1996).

62 The Interagency Task Force on Forests established in 1995 to support the work of the IPF and subsequently the IFF. The ITFF has been superseded by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) - see text later in the paper.

63 The date indicates the year the report was/is to be submitted. In some cases the date at which the report is considered by the COP is the following year.

64 The World Heritage Committee, at its twenty-second session held in 1998 approved this format and explanatory notes, which have been used since for reporting. The Operational Guidelines of the Convention have been revised, including slight changes in the explanatory notes for reporting, and will be presented to the 26th session of the WHC in late June 2002.

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