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9. The Commission considered agenda item 3 on the basis of national reports and Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/2, which presented an overview of forestry conditions and developments since the last session of the Commission. Several country delegates provided useful summaries of recent developments and issues in their countries.

10. Delegates cited several common threats to the region’s forests, including continued deforestation and degradation of natural forests, illegal and uncontrolled logging, invasive species, forest fires, unmanaged recreation and competition from alternative land uses. The Commission noted that countries were tackling these problems through a variety of measures, but were sometimes constrained by weak institutional capacity, insufficient budgetary resources and inadequate political will.

11. The Commission concluded that members were making progress toward sustainable forest management as a result of re-orientation of policies, decentralization and devolution of forest management, application of best management practices and codes of practice for forest harvesting, expansion of protected areas, acceleration of plantation development and rehabilitation of degraded areas. Several countries reported that deforestation had been curbed or even reversed, although the loss and degradation of natural forests were still a widespread problem. Countries generally reported increased use of criteria and indicators, certification, reduced impact logging, and participatory approaches in forest management.

12. The Commission recommended that member countries take further action to implement internationally agreed actions related to forests, especially the IPF/IFF proposals for action. It further recommended that FAO help convey member country experiences in working toward sustainable forest management, including successes and impediments, to the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and UNFF.

13. The Commission urged FAO to expedite its efforts to help countries build capacity for sustainable forest management, especially by facilitating interaction among countries and by organizing workshops and training sessions at the regional, sub-regional and national levels.

14. Concern was expressed by a number of countries over declining investments in the forest sector. The Commission urged member countries and FAO to explore new avenues for obtaining finance for sustainable forest management, including through partnerships with the private sector.

15. Delegates reported increased regional and bilateral cooperation in addressing illegal logging and associated illegal trade of forest products, but the Commission recommended still more collaboration among member countries in dealing with these problems. FAO was urged to provide additional technical support to help member countries control illegal logging and associated illegal trade, and to assess the costs and impacts of illegal logging.

16. The Commission acknowledged the importance of conserving biological resources effectively and recommended that FAO continue promoting this as a priority among its efforts to help countries achieve sustainable forest management.

17. The Commission recognized the significance of effective watershed management to ensure reliable supplies of clean water and acknowledged the complex links between forests and water. It requested FAO to continue providing sound scientific information on relationships between forests and water, including flooding, and on successful watershed management approaches.

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