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32. During a special in-session seminar, the Commission reviewed preliminary results from an APFC initiative to identify some instances of exemplary forest management in the region. Background information was provided in Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/5 and presentations were offered by eight speakers from throughout the region. The agenda of the in-session seminar is attached as Appendix D.

33. Delegates were informed that the In Search of Excellence initiative had resulted in more than 170 nominations of forests considered to be well managed, covering 20 countries. The nominations represented a broad range of forest types, management objectives, scale of operations and ownership patterns, reinforcing the premise that there is no single definition of exemplary forest management. However, it was still possible to distil common elements contributing to excellence, such as societal consensus on management objectives and approaches, attention to livelihoods for forest-dependent people, application of best management practices, and strong commitment to attaining excellence.

34. The Commission appreciated the approach and process used in undertaking the initiative, particularly the emphasis on recognizing and accentuating positive experiences in forest management. Delegates noted the potential for the initiative to help counter the preponderance of negative publicity on forests and to serve as a catalyst in motivating further improvements in forest management. They recognized that the initiative had stimulated healthy debate among stakeholders on what constitutes good forest management and how to achieve it.

35. Delegates acknowledged the potential to transfer lessons and experiences from case study forests to similar situations throughout the region. Similarly, they recognized that the model of common elements of good forest management, based on analysis of the case study forests, provided a valuable summation of issues that could guide forest management in a variety of contexts.

36. The Commission noted that strong bonds tend to link exemplary forest managers to their forests. It further recognized the importance of discernable “champions” in promoting excellence in forest management. An additional key to successful management was related to ensuring the extensive involvement of all stakeholders in establishing the parameters and goals for forest management, especially at local levels.

37. The Commission was informed that a publication featuring the 28 case studies and supporting analysis would be published in the near future. The Commission recommended that the results of the In Search of Excellence initiative be widely distributed and promoted through media briefings, workshops, and the preparation of materials to help managers of nominated forests to promote a common message. The Commission also suggested that FAO consider organizing a side meeting at the next session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) to feature the initiative.

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