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“Lessons learnt on sustainable forest management in Africa” initiative concludes

Since regular sessions of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) offer insufficient time for in-depth discussions of complex issues, UNFF welcomes countries or organizations to organize initiatives to analyse particular issues before their scheduling for discussion in formal sessions.

As one such initiative, Sweden (through the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry), FAO and the African Academy of Sciences (through the African Forestry Research Network, AFORNET) led a study to draw lessons from experiences in forest management in Africa. The initiative, comprising a series of case studies and two workshops, sought to identify the most urgent concerns to which Africa should give priority in international processes, and to promote increased African participation in these processes.

The concluding workshop was held in Uppsala, Sweden from 18 to 22 October 2004. Seventy participants representing governments, international organizations and African regional organizations attended.

The meeting concluded that examples of successful sustainable forest management appear to have at least several of the following attributes.

The workshop recommended further study on wood energy demand and supply; forest resource inventory; and management of woodlands and dry forests. The recommendations of the workshop will be presented to the fifth session of UNFF in May 2005. A side event on the outcomes of the initiative will also be presented at the seventeenth session of FAO’s Committee on Forestry in March 2005.

How to improve forestry incentive and assistance programmes in Europe

Global and regional processes have affirmed the need to use innovative economic instruments to achieve forest-related goals – for example, creating financial mechanisms to develop new markets for environmental services. To support future policy-making and the design of new economic instruments, the project Evaluating Financing of Forestry in Europe (EFFE), coordinated by the European Forest Institute (EFI), was undertaken in 2001 to address the effectiveness and economic efficiency of European forestry incentive and assistance programmes.

To disseminate the findings, discuss future research needs and facilitate future cooperation, EFI, in collaboration with the Polish Forest Research Institute, organized the International Conference on Evaluating Forestry Incentive and Assistance Programmes in Europe – Challenges to Improve Policy Effectiveness, which was held from 10 to 12 October 2004 in Warsaw, Poland.

The meeting addressed:

The first session focused on the importance of economic issues for sustainable forest management in Europe. The need to incorporate uncertainty into the planning and monitoring of forest activities was underlined, with climate change shown as one of the most uncertain events. Participants noted that a policy environment that promotes both entrepreneurship and stewardship of land should be a focus of future development.

Participants noted that maintenance of forests might be justified by other than purely economic values – indeed the value of non-market benefits can reach substantial levels. It was suggested that auctions and trading systems be considered among the new policy mechanisms for capturing non-market benefits.

The conference presentations demonstrated the close connections between forest policy and forest economics, yet a lack of consistent and systematic evaluation of financial forest policy instruments was noted in some countries. It was noted that while the EFFE programme has developed comprehensive theories, the empirical data to test them were not always available. In this regard, research on linking spatial forest inventory data to incentive programme data, already being carried out in the United States, could be important.


Preventing unsustainable trade in endangered plant and animal species

Thousands of species around the world are endangered as a result of human activities such as habitat destruction, overharvesting and pollution. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), adopted in 1973, addresses the threat posed by unsustainable international trade of such species.

The thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to CITES drew 1†200 participants to Bangkok, Thailand from 2 to 14 October 2004. Topics on the agenda included management of annual export quotas; the relationship between in situ conservation and ex situ captive breeding; enforcement of trade regulations; cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and FAO; and 50 proposals to amend the CITES appendices.

Decisions concerning the forest sector included the listing of ramin (Gonystylus spp.), a Southeast Asian tree that produces high-value timber, and agarwood (Aquilaria spp.), whose aromatic resin is used in incense and perfume, on Appendix II (species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled). By requiring export permits, these listings will facilitate management of tree stocks and allow both exporters and importers to ensure sustainability of trade.

The conference gave more protection to 11 species of Madagascar’s leaf-tailed geckos by listing them on Appendix II. Trade rules were also strengthened for a number of medicinal plants, including Hoodia spp., used in diet pills; Cistanche deserticola, found in China and Mongolia, whose stems are used to produce a natural tonic; and four species of the genus Taxus (T. chinensis, T. cuspidata, T. fuana and T. sumatrana), commonly known as Chinese and Japanese yew, whose bark, needles, twigs and roots have been used in the treatment of cancer.

Delegates considered the results of the Bushmeat Working Group and adopted a resolution advising Parties to prohibit the offtake of Appendix I species (species that are most endangered, threatened with extinction) for consumption as food and to encourage sustainable offtake of Appendix II and III species.

The African elephant was the subject of extensive debate. The conference agreed to an action plan for suppressing unregulated domestic markets that serve as outlets for poached ivory, particularly in a number of African and Asian countries. Namibia’s request for an annual quota for ivory from its national elephant population was not accepted, but Namibia did receive permission for the strictly controlled sale of traditional ivory carvings as tourist souvenirs.

The meeting agreed that Namibia and South Africa may open up trophy hunting of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) for the first time in many years, with an annual quota of five animals each. Swaziland may also open up strictly controlled hunting of its population of white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) and may export some live animals. These decisions are intended to allow the countries to manage their rhinoceros herds more effectively and earn income for their conservation.

A resolution on the conservation and trade of great apes outlines measures to prohibit commercial trade, deter poaching and protect habitats.

The meeting also adopted a resolution recommending that Parties consider the problems of alien invasive species in developing national legislation and regulations dealing with trade in live animals or plants, and that exporting countries of potentially invasive species be aware of domestic measures established by importing countries to regulate such imports.

COP-14 will be held in 2007 in the Netherlands.

Raising global awareness about the potential of agroforestry

Agroforestry is a natural resources management practice that integrates trees on farms and ranches and in other farming landscapes to diversify and increase production and promote social, economic and environmental benefits.

The congress adopted the Orlando Declaration, which recognizes that agroforestry can assist in achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by improving household incomes and human health and promoting gender equity and environmental sustainability. To raise awareness among policy-makers, natural resource professionals and farmers regarding the potential of agroforestry, the Declaration calls on:

For more information, see:

Global Women’s Assembly on Environment

With the theme “Women as the voice for the environment” (WAVE), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held the first Global Women’s Assembly on Environment from 11 to 13 October 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 150 participants from 60 countries attended, including environment ministers from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland and Sweden and representatives from remote indigenous communities and small island developing States.

The assembly highlighted the crucial role of women in environmental leadership and decision-making; local-global linkages; the relationship between environment and health; the importance of capacity building and education for women; and connections between women’s rights, the environment and peace. It addressed challenges of gender and environment for indigenous and rural women as well as for urban situations.

The keynote speaker was Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources and recent Nobel Peace Prize (see Box on next page). She stressed the need to make women’s voices heard and the need for persistence in pursuing a holistic approach to achieve sustainable development.

The assembly stressed the importance of addressing gender considerations in the follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and international environmental agreements, and emphasized the ten-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Millennium Development Goals.

The WAVE Assembly adopted a manifesto which calls for urgent action from all stakeholders, especially the United Nations system, to achieve sustainable development “which requires harmony between economic policies, human rights, gender equality and environmental conservation and management”. The manifesto lists specific issues of concern and spells out actions to address them. The concerns include among others:

“I think heaven is green” – 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recognizes interconnectedness of environmental conservation, gender issues and peace

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 was awarded to Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. Born in central Kenya in 1940, Maathai is the first African woman to win the peace prize since it was first awarded in 1901.

The first woman from East and Central Africa to obtain a doctoral degree, Maathai became an active member of the National Council of Women of Kenya. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots non-governmental organization focused on environmental conservation and community development in Kenya. The initial goal was to organize poor women to plant millions of trees to combat deforestation and to replenish sources of fuelwood, so that women would not have to spend so much time traveling far from their villages in search of fuelwood for cooking. Composed primarily of women, the organization has planted almost 30 million trees in Kenya and throughout East Africa.

While tree planting has always been the focal activity, the organization has expanded to include projects in areas such as education, advocacy, food security, nutrition and eco-safaris. Through these projects the Green Belt Movement has succeeded in promoting environmental consciousness, volunteerism, conservation of local biodiversity, self-empowerment, community development and accountability.

Wangari Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She has refused to compromise her belief that local people are the best caretakers for their natural resources. During the 1970s and 1980s, her campaign against deforestation was frequently the target of criticism from the government and she was repeatedly imprisoned. In January 2003, she was elected by an overwhelming margin to the Kenyan Parliament, where she is the Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

Forest Stewardship Council is ten years old

More than 250 people joined in the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) three-day conference to celebrate its first ten years and define its next decade. Held in Bonn, Germany, from 10 to 13 September 2004, the meeting provided an opportunity for FSC’s stakeholders to consider strategies and targets, and stressed the importance of making progress with forest certification in tropical forests and increasing the market share for FSC certified products.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry. Founded in 1993, FSC’s mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Today, FSC is a global network with an international centre in Bonn, regional offices covering all parts of the globe, national initiatives in 34 countries and certified forests in 62 countries.

Further information is available at:

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