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Addressing the challenges

12. The Commission considered the challenges confronting forestry in a changing world on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2008/3, presentations from a panel of experts offering perspectives from the private sector, international agencies and non-governmental environmental organizations (NGOs), and a discussion report prepared by the Secretariat, elaborating the situation and prospects for forestry in the Asia-Pacific region.

13. The Commission noted the growing influence of climate change, threats to food security, escalating energy prices, and increasing demands for water and forest products in shaping forest management policies and land use. Delegates recognized that emerging forestry challenges pose the greatest threats to vulnerable, impoverished, forest-dependent people.

14. The Commission appreciated society’s aspirations for growth and development, but acknowledged that such development can have major impacts on forests. It also noted increasing regional and urban-rural disparities that sometimes lead to conflicts over forest management objectives and priorities. The Commission noted that utilization of forest resources to support national development and to alleviate poverty can result in improved forest conservation.

15. The Commission noted that rapid change and the emergence of new forestry challenges require new responses from within and outside the forestry sector. The importance of developing multi-sectoral approaches and holistic policies was emphasized as necessary to avoid inconsistencies and conflicts among sectors and within the forestry sector itself.

16. The Commission agreed that effective engagement of a wide range of stakeholders through participatory processes is necessary to develop practical solutions for the emerging challenges at global, regional, national and local levels.

17. The Commission recognized the potential that forest carbon offers for attracting financing for sustainable forest management. Delegates stressed that emerging forest carbon funding mechanisms must reward countries for retaining forests and reducing damage to existing forests, and that “perverse” incentives encouraging forest loss must be avoided. Some delegates expressed concern that the complexity of existing and emerging climate change and forest carbon accounting mechanisms may constrain some countries from participating in forest-based responses to climate change.

18. The Commission recognized that sustainable forest management, as a dynamic and evolving concept, is intended to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental values of forests for the benefit of present and future generations. Delegates reiterated the importance of capacity-building in the use of tools such as criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and certification as important for encouraging sustainable forest management.

19. The Commission highlighted the emergence of the biofuels sector in increasing land-use pressures. Delegates noted linkages among biofuels production, escalating food prices, demands for increased agricultural production, and commensurate pressures on forest lands. The Commission requested FAO to provide policy support to member countries in assessing the potential social, economic and environmental implications of biofuels production.

20. The Commission noted that payments for environmental services could be one of the options for promoting sustainable forest management, noting recent activities in Viet Nam and other countries in this regard. Delegates recognized significant difficulties in valuing ecosystem services, and in implementing practical systems of payment for environmental services, as appropriate for respective member countries.

21. The Commission requested FAO to give high priority to building and strengthening capacities for the transfer of skills and information, and to promote international and inter-sectoral cooperation and collaboration in developing responses to emerging forestry challenges.

Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study

22. The Commission received a report outlining progress in implementing the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS). The Commission appreciated the objectives of the APFSOS: (i) to assess emerging socio-economic changes impacting on forests and forestry; (ii) to analyze probable scenarios for developments in the forestry sector to the year 2020; and (iii) to outline priorities and strategies to address emerging opportunities and challenges. The Commission expressed appreciation that satisfactory progress had been made in implementing APFSOS activities.

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