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Guidance for drafting forest fire legislation

Forest fires and the law – guide for national drafters based on the Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines. E. Morgera & M.T. Cirelli. 2009. FAO Legislative Study No. 99. Rome, FAO. ISBN 978-92-5-106151-0.

Forest fires can threaten livelihoods, ecosystems and landscapes. Fire management is the discipline of using fire to achieve land-management and land-use objectives, while safeguarding life, property and resources such as forests and other vegetation in rural areas. It encompasses prevention, preparedness, early warning, detection and mobilization, suppression and restoration (including research and technology transfer). It entails the appropriate use of natural or human-caused fire in maintaining ecological values and the integrity of certain ecosystems, and the use of fire to reduce the accumulation of natural fuel and residues from commercial and non-commercial activities.

Starting in 2003, FAO coordinated a multistakeholder process to develop Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines as part of a global strategy for international cooperation in fire management. The guidelines set out non-legally binding principles and internationally accepted strategic actions to address the cultural, social, environmental and economic dimensions of fire management at all levels. They can serve as a checklist to strengthen and implement policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, plans and procedures, and provide a basis for their development where these do not exist. Principle 8 of the voluntary guidelines clearly recognizes the role of legislation in supporting and institutionalizing forest fire management. Indeed fire prevention and suppression are often hampered by unclear lines of institutional responsibilities and by conflicting policies and legislation.

Using the Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines as a foundation, the present publication systematically identifies the elements of a coherent national legal framework on forest fires, capitalizing on the experience gained by FAO in advising
member countries on how to improve their forest legislation. It identifies emerging trends and singles out best practices and innovative legal solutions, taking as examples national and subnational legislation in a representative group of countries from different regions, having different ecosystems and different legal traditions.

The study concludes with key recommendations designed to help drafters of national legislation ensure that legal measures on forest fires are supportive of a holistic approach to fire management.

The publication is also available online at:

Bees – not only for honey

Bees and their role in forest livelihoods – a guide to the services provided by bees and the sustainable harvesting, processing and marketing of their products. N. Bradbear. 2009. Non-wood Forest Products No. 19. Rome, FAO. ISBN 978-92-5-106276-0.

Bees are a fantastic resource: they are essential for sustaining the environment because they pollinate flowering plants; they sustain agriculture by pollinating crops; and they provide honey and other products that sustain the livelihoods of forest-dependent people in almost every country on earth. In many parts of the world, significant volumes of honey are still obtained by plundering wild colonies of bees, while elsewhere beekeeping is practised as a highly developed skill.

This book provides insight into the many ways in which bees and beekeeping contribute to people’s livelihoods, and considers how to strengthen this contribution. It provides basic information on managing wild bees and on the use of their products. Its aim is to promote more sustainable beekeeping practices which will better sustain forest-dependent livelihoods in the developing world.

After describing the main bee species and introducing their importance in nature, the publication outlines the importance of apiculture for rural livelihoods and describes considerations in honey hunting and beekeeping. It reviews the impact of beekeeping on management and conservation of forests and the value of bees for crop pollination.

Next it turns to the products from bees – honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and others – considered at both subsistence and commercial levels. It examines their production, value addition, trade and marketing, as well as constraints to their development.

Particular attention is given to further development of the potential for managing wild bee species in developing countries.

The text is supplemented with case studies from around the world, 12 pages of colour plates and a glossary of apiculture terms.

The publication is available online at:

Graphic overview of forest issues

Vital forest graphics. 2009. Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP; Rome, FAO; New York, USA, UNFF. ISBN 978-92-807-2903-0 (UNEP); 978-92-5-106264-7 (FAO).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Vital Graphics series presents critical environmental issues in a simple and immediate way through the use of extensive graphics. To help communicate the value of forests to policy-makers and the wider public, UNEP, FAO and the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) joined efforts to produce the present volume in the series, which analyses, synthesizes and illustrates two dozen topical forest issues, mostly presented as two-page spreads.

Vital forest graphics first sets the stage by looking at what defines a forest. It provides an overview of global trends in forest cover and challenges in forest conservation and management, then focusing in on the world’s four largest forest ecosystems: the tropical forests of the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia, and the boreal forests.

The publication scrutinizes some of the key drivers behind forest loss and reviews some of the best practices for sustainable forest management, including participatory management and economic incentives. It reviews the importance of forests for people’s livelihoods, examining topics such as forests and food security, forests and conflict, and forests and indigenous people.

The book also analyses the role of forests with regard to today’s most pressing environmental issues, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, land-use pressure, trade, air pollution, energy and biofuels. It reviews the main environmental functions provided by forests in support of human well-being, including regulation of the hydrological cycle and microclimate.

Finally Vital forest graphics highlights legal and economic tools that have been implemented to help conserve the forests and secure the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities.

This book is of general interest and will be especially useful to those seeking graphic evidence for key forest concepts. It is available electronically at:

Adaptation panel’s assessment

Adaptation of forests and people to climate change – a global assessment report. R. Seppälä, A. Buck & P. Katila, eds. 2009. IUFRO World Series Vol. 22. Helsinki, Finland, IUFRO. ISBN 978-3-901347-80-1.

The Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests is a new mechanism for providing objective and independent scientific assessments of key forest-related issues to support international processes and decision-making at the global level. It is led and coordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change is its first product, prepared by an Expert Panel on Adaptation of Forests to Climate Change comprising 35 scientists and experts from different forest-related disciplines and different parts of the world.

The publication is divided into two main parts. The first analyses past and future impacts and vulnerabilities, both environmental and socio-economic. The second assesses adaptation options; it includes a chapter on current adaptation measures and policies, and another on management for adaptation.

The assessment notes that climate change over the past half-century has already affected forest ecosystems and could cause them to be lost entirely if carbon emissions are not reduced substantially. In a vicious circle, the loss of forests releases great quantities of carbon to the atmosphere, causing further climate change. The publication notes that climate change could increase the supply of timber in some regions, but elsewhere its negative impacts on forest goods and services will have social and economic consequences for forest-dependent people, especially those living in poverty.

The authors emphasize that sustainable forest management is essential for reducing the vulnerability of forests and people to climate change. Since there is no universally applicable measure for adapting forests to climate change, forest managers must have sufficient flexibility to deploy the adaptation measures most appropriate for their local situations. Secure land tenure and forest user rights and sufficient financial incentives are important. Finally, the authors stress that unmitigated climate change could exceed the adaptive capacity of many forests during the course of the present century. Large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation are therefore needed to ensure that forests retain their capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

There are still major gaps in knowledge about the impacts of climate change on forests and people and about how adaptation actions can best be tailored to local conditions. This book provides a solid basis for discussion and further research, thus contributing to the development of effective adaptation strategies.

The assessment also forms the basis of a policy brief entitled Making forests fit for climate change – a global view of climate-change impacts on forests and people and options for adaptation, prepared especially for policy- and decision-makers. Both publications are available at:

A compendium of principles and knowledge in forestry

Manuel de foresterie – nouvelle édition entièrement revue et augmentée. 2009. Quebec, Canada, Éditions MultiMondes. ISBN 978-2-89544-138-0.

The forestry profession covers a large variety of disciplines. Today’s foresters must master a more diversified field of knowledge and deal with a greater breadth of issues than their predecessors, traditionally concerned for the most part with the tending and harvesting of forests.

The Manuel de foresterie is a unique – and uniquely large – book. This revised and expanded edition of the 1996 original covers in 36 chapters and about 1 500 pages a large cross-section of subjects and disciplines of great use to the modern forester. Although written for the Canadian forestry context, and more precisely for Quebec, it also contains many sections that will be of interest to an international audience of forestry professionals, such as excellent chapters on forest biometeorology and hydrology, a significant ensemble of chapters on different aspects of forest measurement and monitoring, and many texts of interest on technical aspects of forest harvesting. The last section on wood technology starts with a chapter on the management of the value chain, an industrial management principle that clearly transcends national boundaries.

This massive storehouse of information will be useful as a teaching tool and a reference work, and is a worthwhile addition to a forester’s library. It is available only in French.

How to reduce the impact of logging on biodiversity

ITTO/IUCN guidelines for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in tropical timber production forests. 2009. ITTO Policy Development Series No. 17. Yokohama, Japan, ITTO & IUCN. ISBN 4-902045-41-9.

Natural tropical forests are enormously important for the conservation of biodiversity, containing perhaps 80 percent or more of the world’s terrestrial species. This publication is concerned with the 90 percent of tropical forests that are outside protected areas and may be used for the cyclical extraction of timber and other products. It sets out the specific actions that policy-makers, forest managers and other stakeholders should take to prevent logging in tropical forests from posing a threat to biodiversity.

The International Tropical Timber Council first adopted guidelines on conserving biological diversity in tropical production forestsin 1993. This updated version, produced through a consultative process, takes account of the great changes that have taken place since then in public awareness, practice and policy related to biodiversity.

These changes include developments in scientific knowledge of conservation biology; the adoption of large-scale, landscape approaches to conservation; better technologies for observing changes in forest systems and greater knowledge of species distribution and ecology. They include international policy developments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Expanded Programme of Work on Forest Biological Diversity and CBD’s adoption of the ecosystem approach; and developments in certification, land rights and benefit sharing, payment for ecosystem services, forest law and governance, trade liberalization and the sourcing of wood from planted forests. The physical environment has also undergone change, for example from changing climate. One of the most important messages in the guidelines is that forest managers must be capable of monitoring changes in both biodiversity and society’s requirements for biodiversity and of adapting their management accordingly.

Part I provides background and introduces key concepts. The heart of the book is Part II, which gives 11 principles, 46 guidelines and numerous related priority actions for biodiversity conservation, consistent with the principles of sustainable forest management. Part III gives advice on implementing the guidelines, addressing for example training and incentives. A glossary defines key terms. Annexes include specific cases from Central Africa, Cameroon, Indonesia, Guyana, Brazil, the Philippines, Malaysia and Ghana.

The revised guidelines were drafted by a core team of biodiversity specialists and then evaluated in the field among timber companies, forest agencies and local communities in four producer countries. An expert panel met in 2007 to further revise the guidelines in light of the field evaluation.

This publication will provide forest policy-makers, owners and managers with excellent guidance on how best to reduce their impacts on biodiversity in tropical timber production forests. The application of these guidelines will help countries implement their obligations under CBD.

The publication is available online at:

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