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DVD on forests and climate change

Forests and climate change: a convenient truth. 2008. Rome, Forestry Commission, UK & FAO. ISBN 978-92-5-006019-4.

Rainfall patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, glaciers are retreating and Arctic Sea ice is thinning. The twentieth century was possibly the hottest in the past thousand years. Forests and climate change: a convenient truth, a 17-minute video presentation produced by FAO and the Forestry Commission of the United Kingdom, shows how much forests can contribute to the mitigation of climate change, stressing the importance of reversing forest loss.

The video reveals the tree as the perfect “machine” to soak up and store carbon. It points out, however, that although forests store more carbon than all the world’s remaining oil stocks, continuing deforestation and forest degradation account for almost one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transport sector. Yet some regions have managed to reverse negative trends.

A section entitled “Managing to mitigate” explains how society can combat climate change by conserving and managing existing forests, by tackling causes of deforestation and by planting new forests. The presentation stresses the use of wood as a renewable energy source and as a raw material, pointing out that wood products store carbon for their entire lifetime, until they decay or are burned. A section on adaptation notes how the world’s changing climate will affect the health and composition of forests and stresses the importance of adapting and planning ahead for the changes.

This informative DVD provides concise and accurate insight into the many important services provided by forests and the perilous implications if the current trend of forest loss continues. With striking imagery and simple language, it is suitable for classroom, conference hall and individual viewing by all who care about the future of the planet. The multilingual DVD includes the presentation in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. An Italian version is also available on request (

Introduction to forests and energy

Forests and energy: key issues. 2008. FAO Forestry Paper No. 154. Rome, FAO. ISBN 978-92-5-105985-2.

Rising energy consumption and fossil fuel prices combined with increasing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and energy import dependence are driving the research agenda for fossil fuel alternatives for energy production. Forests are key in the global quest for alternative energy sources. Woody biomass offers high levels of energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. This publication considers the present and future contribution of wood in the production of bioenergy as well as the potential effects of liquid biofuel development on forests.

Following an overview of global energy supply and demand with projections to 2030, the publication considers the contribution of wood energy within a broader discussion of the various bioenergy crops used to produce first- and second-generation biofuels. It assesses the benefits of different sources of bioenergy and the dangers of forest conversion. It also discusses market forces and ongoing technological innovations for wood energy production. Policy options and recommendations for bioenergy development are provided, emphasizing the importance of integrated land use and the transfer of advanced wood energy technologies to developing countries.

This publication will be useful to both specialized and general audiences interested in learning more about the role of forests in energy production. It is also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

A personal face to forest management in the Philippines

Forest faces: hopes and regrets in Philippine forestry. 2008. RAP publication 2008/04. Bangkok, Thailand, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific & Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC).

Forest management in the Philippines has shown dramatic successes and failures. A high rate of forest loss, together with extensive civil society and media attention to deforestation, to forest governance problems and to indigenous people’s rights, testify to the complex relationship between Filipino people and their forests.

Forest faces: hopes and regrets in Philippine forestry, offers a collection of personal stories and reflections to improve understanding of the hardships and misfortunes associated with loss and degradation of forests in the country. More than 50 interviews with Filipinos from many sectors and different generations provide a picture of the hopes, fears, satisfactions and frustrations of a population deeply connected to the forest.

The faces in this beautifully designed book, richly illustrated with photographs, include (among many others) policy-makers, scientists, tribal leaders, furniture makers, schoolchildren, urban professionals, forest nursery workers, farmers, forest guards, gatherers of wood and non-wood forest products, religious leaders, historians, sociologists and community workers. Issues discussed include upland poverty, flawed implementation of well-intentioned policies and the challenges of controlling illegal activities. Reflections on the past meet perspectives on what needs to be done today.

As noted at the outset, this publication supports Jack Westoby’s well-known comment that “Forestry is not about trees, it is about people”. It will be of interest well beyond the Philippines, to all those who are concerned with the relationship of forests and people.

Institutional change in forestry

Re-inventing forestry agencies: experiences of institutional restructuring in Asia and the Pacific. P. Durst, C. Brown, J. Broadhead, R. Suzuki, R. Leslie & A. Inoguchi, eds. 2008. RAP Publication 2008/05. Bangkok, Thailand, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

As the concerns of forestry increasingly extend beyond wood production to encompass social, environmental and cultural dimensions, forestry institutions must adapt. Does a great leap work better than a gradual transition? Is private involvement more important than public, and are smaller institutions better than large ones? Who benefits from devolution, and are there any losers? How can real change be distinguished from superfluous change? This study of nine forestry institutions in China, India, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United States and Viet Nam explores these and related questions.

With increasing demands for conservation and services of forests, the responsible institutions must overcome the challenges that reform entails and prove their worth to society. Through a comparative analysis, this publication will help institutions considering reinvention better understand the issues, challenges and opportunities inherent in reforming forestry agencies in a rapidly changing world.

European attitudes about wood

Europeans and wood: what Europeans think of wood. E. Rametsteiner, R. Oberwimmer & I. Gschwandtl. 2007. Warsaw, Poland, MCPFE & FAO-UNECE Forest Communicators Network. ISBN 978-83-926647-0-3.

Changes in society’s view of forests and a public orientation towards increasingly “green” economies are influencing the demands on forests as producers of raw materials, not only for increasingly sophisticated products but also for renewable energy. These changes have profound effects for forest policy-makers and forest owners and managers, who face new opportunities to engage in increasingly integrated value-added production and appropriate governance of resource use.

Europeans and wood provides a comprehensive look into public perceptions of forest-based products, based on consumer opinion polls and business surveys. The report, which complements Europeans and their forests, published in 2003 by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) and the European Forest Communicators Network, reveals that Europeans generally have a positive attitude towards wood, finding it warm, natural and environment friendly. However, despite widespread environmental awareness, most Europeans are more likely to base their purchasing choices on quality, design and price than on environmental issues. The public is more aware of environmental considerations for paper products than for other wood products. Furthermore, while the use of renewable energy is widely supported, most people think of renewable energy as solar, wind and hydropower; the current and future role of wood energy is not well recognized, and awareness of how the use of wood and wood energy can contribute to mitigating climate change is not high.

The document ends with a broader look at the image of the forest industry in Europe. Although the forest industry is not generally perceived as innovative or attractive for employment, on the whole it is deemed environmentally friendly. Perceptions vary widely, however.

This publication gives insight into the areas where further communication efforts would be valuable for a better informed public and better use of wood.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004: a preventable tragedy?

The role of coastal forests in the mitigation of tsunami impacts. K. Forbes & J. Broadhead. 2007. RAP Publication 2007/1. Bangkok, Thailand, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The role of coastal forests in the mitigation of natural disasters rapidly became an important topic of discussion following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which destroyed coastlines and left many dead. Some of the reconstruction efforts focused on rehabilitating and repairing coastal forests, an action prompted by the supposition that intact mangrove forests help alleviate the devastating impacts of tsunami events. However, because of a general lack of hard evidence the value of these efforts eventually came into question.

FAO produced The role of coastal forests in the mitigation of tsunami impacts to address the questions and to assemble scientific knowledge on the physical aspects of tsunami mitigation by coastal forests. It notes that the protection provided by these forests is related to the size and force of the tsunami, the forest characteristics (width, height, density and distribution of vegetation) and the soil substrate. The diameter, height and elasticity of the trees are also factors. Coastal trees and forests may provide protection at lower costs than engineered coastal protection structures, while supplying additional benefits and services.

This small publication presents the current facts surrounding this topic. Although it cannot cover all of the issues related to the establishment of coastal forests, the information it contains, integrated with economic, social and environmental considerations, may contribute to improved coastal tree and forest management worldwide.

What trees mean to people

Between earth and sky: our intimate connection to trees. N. Nadkarni. 2008. Berkeley & Los Angeles, USA, University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24856-4.

Between earth and sky: our intimate connection to trees is a personal, spiritual and poetic representation of the meaning of trees. The author has gathered perspectives on trees and forests from scientists, students, artists, clergymen, musicians, activists, loggers, legislators and indigenous people on four continents and presented them in a passionate and beautiful tribute to nature. Through anecdotes, copious scientific facts, personal reflections, poems and illustrations she explores tree biology, the goods and services trees provide, their provision of shelter and protection and their role in health and healing, moving finally into the realms of human imagination, art, religion and spirituality.

This finely written book will give pleasure to and broaden the knowledge of all lovers of trees, forests and nature.

Two forestry papers from the Convention on Biological Diversity

Conservation and use of wildlife-based resources: the bushmeat crisis. 2008. CBD Technical Series No. 33. Montreal, Canada, Convention on Biological Diversity.

In some countries unsustainable hunting of tropical forest wildlife for consumption as food, or bushmeat, is causing critical biodiversity loss. This paper presents a summary of existing knowledge on the crisis and puts forth policy options for sustainable use of wild fauna. It also examines interactions with other sectors, particularly forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

Conservation and use of wildlife-based resources: the bushmeat crisis makes clear the ecological importance of wildlife as well as the economic, nutritional, social and cultural value of bushmeat. It probes the factors surrounding sustainable and unsustainable hunting, with special attention to impacts on livelihoods and consideration of alternative forms of protein.

The publication ends with lessons learned and recommendations for action at different levels. It is intended to give impetus for coordinated responses to the increasingly urgent bushmeat crisis at international, national and local scales.

Cross-sectoral toolkit for the conservation and sustainable management of forest biodiversity. 2008. CBD Technical Series No. 39. Montreal, Canada, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Activities in many sectors can influence forest biodiversity. This toolkit looks beyond the forest sector to suggest policy approaches in agriculture, tourism, mining, land-use planning, energy and finance that will reduce negative consequences on forests and forest biodiversity. Proposed tools include laws, codes of conduct, incentives, policies and market-based instruments.

The publication demonstrates that opportunities for long-term economic development can be compatible with conservation of forest resources. The toolkit is intended to be updated regularly and to become an Internet-based instrument. It is a work in progress; additional sectors such as transportation and health will eventually be included.

The toolkit, offering practical and applicable policy guidance, builds on previous work of CBD partner organizations including FAO, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It will assist countries to devise appropriate policy responses to increasing pressure on fragile forest resources.

Participatory forest monitoring

Negotiated learning: collaborative monitoring in forest resource management. I. Guijt, ed. 2007. Washington, DC, USA, Resources for the Future. ISBN 978-1-933115-38-2.

In participatory natural resource management, how can monitoring be carried out effectively in a collaborative way? Negotiated learning addresses this question through case studies and lessons learned from researchers and development specialists operating in 11 countries across Africa, Asia and South America.

Successful collective monitoring will emphasize community participation from indicator selection to decision-making based on the information collected. The publication emphasizes the importance of local capacity building so that communities can eventually assume full responsibility for local forest resource management.

Case studies highlight best practices, focusing on four main lessons:

Throughout, Negotiated learning stresses that collaborative monitoring is a comparatively new area of practice; continued efforts will be required to improve the processes involved.

Support for forests in development cooperation

Forests sourcebook: practical guidance for sustaining forests in development cooperation. D. Chandrasekharan Behr, ed. 2008. Washington, DC, USA, World Bank.

The World Bank is the leading source of funding for forest development. Forest sourcebook provides information about all major World Bank initiatives in the forest sector. It is a comprehensive review of sustainable forest management in the context of international development cooperation.

Forests sourcebook includes contributions from leading experts in the various fields of international forestry. Forty chapters cover subjects such as forest governance, poverty, forest inventories, policy reform, information systems, decentralization, certification – in short, just about any topic related to forest development. It will be an indispensable reference for development agencies, international organizations, researchers, and university courses on international forestry.

One drawback is that the volume is so comprehensive that its usefulness for practical guidance may be limited. While the text is generally accessible, it is loaded with jargon and acronyms (the list of acronyms fills five pages) which may create a barrier to comprehension by bank outsiders.

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