45. The Commission considered alternative forest management models, particularly those oriented towards achieving sustainability and alleviating poverty, during an in-session seminar. Background information was provided in Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/7, and presentations were provided by five resource persons from throughout the region. The agenda of the in-session seminar is attached as Appendix E.
46. Participants noted that member countries were increasingly testing and applying innovative and alternative forest management models in an attempt to deal more effectively with the pressures being exerted on forests from population growth, agricultural expansion, increasing demand for forest products, industrial development and rapid economic growth. Promising models of management typically transferred forest management authorities and responsibilities to local governments, civil society and the private sector. Increased involvement of stakeholders, secure resource tenure, innovative partnerships, increased equity and application of landscape approaches to managements were common elements of success.
47. The participants reviewed experiences with decentralization and devolution of forest management, community-based forest management, the model forest approach to sustainable forest management and transfer of forest management roles to the private sector. Delegates pointed out that extensive experience had been gained with some approaches, such as community forestry, while others, such as the model forest approach, had been introduced only recently.
48. Delegates noted that the processes of devolution and decentralization of forest management had not always been smooth, and at times had stalled as a result of conflicts between local governments and forest users. Moreover, foresters had sometimes been perceived as being reluctant to participate in, or lead, the processes of devolution and decentralization, or had even been perceived as being opposed to these trends.
49. Delegates confirmed an increasing trend in the region to involve the private sector in forest management through long-term lease arrangements, management concessions and privatization of forest resources. While the benefits of such approaches may be substantial in the long term, privatization in some cases may have negative social and environmental implications in the near term. Acceptable risk, combined with financial risk, is essential for success, and this will be heavily influenced by the operating environment within countries.
50. The Commission appreciated the positive experiences of several countries in implementing the model forest approach to sustainable forest management, with support from FAO and donor countries. Noting that existing model forests in the region still required donor support to achieve their full potential, and that several other countries were interested in applying the model forest approach, the Commission urged FAO to continue discussions with donors to secure funding for a proposed regional model forest network in Asia and the Pacific.
51. Delegates agreed that none of the alternative forest management models eliminated the need for government forestry agencies. Rather, the roles of forestry agencies may be altered under the new modalities, and the skills needed to manage forests and facilitate these new approaches may differ from those needed in the past. The Commission requested FAO to review the changing needs, demands and expectations placed on forestry agencies as a result of the transition to alternative forest management models and to assist forestry agencies in reorienting, retraining and restructuring, as appropriate.
52. The Commission recommended that FAO continue monitoring experiences in implementing alternative forest management models, disseminate information on such experiences and support efforts to strengthen capacities for effective implementation.