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COFO considers FAO's Tropical Forestry Action Plan

The Eighth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) of the FAO Council was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, from 21 to 25 April 1988. The session was attended by delegates from 88 member countries, by observers from four other FAO Member Nations and from the Holy See, by representatives of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and EEC, as well as by observers from four other organizations.

The attention of the FAO Council was drawn by COFO to the Committee's support for FAO's Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) and its recommendation that the TFAP be accepted by all countries and agencies concerned as a framework for harmonizing international action. It requested FAO to play the central coordinating role in the implementation of the TFAP and the Director-General to report to the Council on the financing requirements for action to protect and conserve the world's forests, with particular reference to the TFAP.

The Committee approved the Tropical Forestry Action Plan and recommended its acceptance by all countries and interested agencies as a logical and coherent framework for harmonized international action. The Committee recommended that it be reviewed biannually and updated in the light of experience gained in its implementation.

The Committee noted that forestry was now a subject of international concern and that the TFAP had gained widespread support and acceptance. It was necessary, however, to maintain this momentum by a dynamic approach to the implementation of the TFAP.

The Committee stressed the need for harmonizing TFAP with the national forestry plans currently under way or envisaged for the future. In many cases country missions to support forestry sector reviews and programme preparation will be required as a tool to promote speedy implementation of the TFAP. Flexibility on the need for and scope of missions was required in this regard. The Committee recommended that FAO take the necessary initiative to expedite the execution of multidisciplinary and multidonor country missions undertaken at the express request of the recipient countries and to ensure that the country studies were of the required quality.

The success of the TFAP depended primarily on the interest and willingness of all interested parties to support it, particularly the commitment of the recipient countries themselves. In this context, the Committee recommended that FAO promote the education and training of national personnel to ensure that they participate fully in the TFAP and in the local action plans.

While emphasizing that the implementation of the TFAP should basically be country-oriented, the Committee at the same time recommended that regional and subregional approaches also be adopted to address common problems and to facilitate regional exchange of knowledge and group participation by donors.

The Committee emphasized that the implementation of the TFAP required increased financial resources from national, bilateral and multilateral sources. It was informed of the results of the meeting of forestry advisers from the donor countries, which had taken place in Rome on 18-19 April 1986. The Committee noted with satisfaction the reiteration of intent by several delegates from donor countries and financing agencies to provide increased support to forestry programmes in developing countries in the context of the TFAP.

The Committee recommended that FAO's programme priorities be reexamined, considering the importance of the TFAP, and that every possible effort be made to accord higher priority to the forestry programmes. Certain delegates felt that this could mean offsetting savings in other FAO programmes in future bienniums. In so far as Regular Programme resources proved insufficient for FAO to provide the necessary support for the TFAP the Committee recommended that the Director-General seek voluntary extra-budgetary contributions for this purpose.

The Committee welcomed the interest of other UN agencies in the TFAP, particularly of the World Bank, UNDP. UNEP and of non-governmental organizations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the World Resources Institute, and supported further cooperation of these bodies and greater involvement of non-governmental organizations.

The Committee agreed that the proposal for the establishment of a world forest fund reflected the urgency for action. It recommended that the Director-General, taking into account the views expressed during the debate on this item, submit a report to the Council on the financing requirements for action to protect and conserve the world's forests, with particular reference to the TFAP.

In addition to the Tropical Forestry Action Plan, three other major items were drawn to the attention of the FAO Council by COFO:

· the Committee's review of forest industries and trade of forest products and their role in socioeconomic development. The Committee recommended that FAO strengthen its programme in the marketing and trade of forest products and that FAO and the donor community assist developing countries in upgrading existing forest industries and in investing in new ones, including those that process non-wood products;

· the Committee's deliberations on heightening public and political awareness of the importance of forests. While expressing its satisfaction with the activities undertaken at the national and international levels in celebration of 1985 as the International Year of the Forest, the Committee stressed the need and urgency for improving public awareness of the importance of forests in human welfare. It recommended that FAO and member governments continually address the issue of effective communication in forestry and strongly supported the inclusion of communication components in forestry development projects;

· the Committee's review of the current state of forest conservation. The Committee welcomed the decision of the FAO Council that forest conservation be included as a regular agenda item at sessions of the Committee during the present decade and addressed several recommendations to FAO.

VILLAGE OF SIRAKELE IN MALI TFAP aims at both dry and wet tropics

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