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The future of forests: Implications of the Forestry Outlook Study for Africa (FOSA) (Item 9)

38. The Committee welcomed FOSA and applauded FAO for the high quality of the study. It noted its importance in contributing to long-term planning purposes and as a good basis for raising awareness of current and emerging issues in Africa's forest sector. The Committee particularly recognized the usefulness of the report in terms of providing a realistic analysis of the situation and of signalling the need to address problems on an urgent basis.

39. Despite indications of a pessimistic outlook, the Committee noted positive trends in policy development and implementation in Africa's forest sector, and expressed optimism for a brighter future.

40. The Committee recommended that FAO continue to support further research in institutions and agreed that follow-up activities should include regular updates of country data and information to ensure their relevance for the development and implementation of strategies. The Committee particularly noted the need to provide additional information on the informal sector where most activity in Africa's forest sector was taking place.

41. The Committee recognized that many of the problems identified in FOSA lie outside the forest sector thus confirming the need for countries to adopt multi-sectoral approaches in the development and implementation of national plans and programmes.

42. The Committee recommended that FAO and partners, including countries, promote the participation of stakeholders in national processes; continue to provide information on factors that affect poverty; and further assist countries build capacity for long-term strategic planning and sustained action to reverse negative trends.

43. The Committee requested FAO to continue assisting countries in their efforts to promote efficiency in the public sector, improve the functioning of markets, and achieve greater access to markets.

44. The Committee recognized that many activities being undertaken in Africa's forest sector can positively influence future outcomes. In this regard, it recommended that FAO continue to disseminate information and reports on progress as a potential tool for others to replicate successful approaches and experiences.

Review of FAO Programmes in the Forestry Sector, including follow-up to the requests and recommendations of the Fifteenth Session of the Committee as well as the Programme Implementation Report (2000-2001) (Item 10)

45. The Committee recognized that FAO had followed-up on priority issues contained in the recommendations of the 15th session. It expressed appreciation that several of these issues were the subject of side meetings during the 16th session, providing delegates with an opportunity to be informed of progress in detail.

46. The Committee recommended that FAO focus on its mandated role as a source of global forestry information and that FAO continue to give high priority to forest resources assessments, emphasizing the importance of strengthening national capacities to collect and analyze information about forests, and of improving compatibility between national, regional and international assessments. It recognized that this work needed to reflect the range of national circumstances in forest cover, use and management. The Committee endorsed the major recommendations of an international expert consultation on forest resources assessments (Kotka IV), including the establishment of an advisory group on global forest resources assessments; the importance of linking these assessments with criteria for sustainable forest management; and the need for an updated global FRA report in 2005.

47. The Committee stressed the importance of timely, accurate and comprehensive information about forests. It encouraged FAO to continue collaborating with other organizations to streamline reporting, to build synergies and to strengthen national capacities in this regard. The Forest Resources Assessment, the State of the World's Forests report and the FAO forestry web site are to be commended.

48. The Committee recommended that FAO continue to give high priority to supporting forestry education, extension and research. It noted that FAO has a comparative advantage in these areas and encouraged FAO to work with academic institutions to update forestry curricula related to cross-sectoral issues, including the social, economic and environmental dimensions of forests, especially in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition.

49. The Committee commended FAO for its active role in harmonizing forest-related definitions in collaboration with other organizations and recommended that the process be continued in order to address critical issues that are not yet resolved.

50. The Committee endorsed the importance of regional approaches in addressing forest issues and commended FAO for facilitating the work of Regional Forestry Commissions. It endorsed the need to strengthen these commissions.

51. The Committee recommended that FAO continue its work on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; model and demonstration forests; participatory forestry; forest fire control; wildlife management; forest biological diversity; forests and climate change; support to national forest programmes; the links between forests, forestry and poverty alleviation; trade and sustainable forest management and assistance to countries to prevent and control forest pests and diseases. The Committee welcomed the main conclusions and recommendations of the International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest management: the Way Forward (CICI 2003).

52. The Committee commended FAO for its work in the field of forestry and climate change and recommended that it strengthen its technical work in close collaboration and coordination with the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

53. The Committee commended FAO for its support to the United Nations Forum on Forests and its leadership in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. It recommended that these roles be continued and strengthened.

54. The Committee noted that the World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) to be held in Australia in August 2005 will be an important showcase for forest research and scientific underpinning of sustainable forest management. It also noted the offers of Australia and the Republic of Korea to host the World Forestry Congress in 2009.

55. The Committee recommended that FAO increase its efforts to raise the awareness of its achievements in the different field programmes.

56. The Committee recommended that FAO work on simplifying the procedures and reducing the time frame required for obtaining its support.

Defining work objectives for FAO in key cross-cutting areas identified by countries and the FAO Medium-Term Planning Process (Item 11)

57. The Committee welcomed the proposed programme of work and associated structural changes within the FAO Forestry Department and noted the important contributions of the Forestry Department to a range of 16 priority areas for interdisciplinary action within FAO. The Committee broadly agreed with the programme of work as outlined in the Medium-Term Plan 2004-2009 and in document COFO-2003/8. The Committee supported the proposed increased share of the total FAO budget allocated to Forestry in the Medium-Term Plan 2004-2009 and Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2004-2005 (SPWB), and recommended that this proportional share be protected within the budget for 2004-2005. It emphasized the importance of the SPWB in providing greater transparency and assisting members evaluate and determine the overall programme of work and supported continued provision.

58. The Committee strongly supported the additions to the work programme on forests and water; forests and climate change; and forests, poverty alleviation and food security.

59. The Committee stressed the need for an integrated approach to work programme entities and recommended that steps be taken to continue to improve linkages between the programme of work and outcomes. It emphasized that better-defined outputs, performance indicators and milestones were needed to improve future reporting on achievements and to assess programme outcomes and impacts. It recommended that FAO forestry programme outputs for 2004-2005 and beyond clearly show linkages to the IPF/IFF proposals for action and the expanded Programme of Work on Forest Biological Diversity.

60. The Committee recommended that FAO continue to focus on its core mandates in all entities of the proposed work programme. Forest information was highlighted as a priority, including work in forest resource assessments and in harmonizing forest-related definitions.

61. The Committee took note of the needs and requirements of low forest cover countries (LFCCs) and the role that the Secretariat of the Tehran Process could play in addressing related issues. It recommended that FAO, and encouraged the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNCCD and other partners, provide technical support to LFCCs for the sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests, including the rehabilitation of degraded lands, desertification control and strengthening national planning and institutional frameworks.

62. The Committee recommended that FAO continue to support forestry education, extension and research, wildlife management and valuation of non-wood forest products and services, and continue to serve as a neutral forum for discussing issues related to forest certification schemes. It also recommended that FAO support countries' efforts in forest law enforcement.

63. The Committee recommended that FAO's programme of work related to forests and climate change be expanded to continue addressing issues identified under the UNFCCC.

64. The Committee also encouraged FAO to continue its programme to strengthen national institutional capacities with its planned outputs in the areas of knowledge management and governance, models of participation and partnerships, and strengthening of institutional arrangements.

65. The Committee also recommended that FAO provide increased emphasis on socially and ecologically based fire management and foster information exchange, including at a regional level.

66. The Committee recommended that FAO continue its support to the United Nations Forum on Forests and its leadership in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and that these roles be continued and strengthened. It further recommended that FAO continue to work closely with the other members of the CPF.

67. The Committee took note of the report of the International Conference on the Contribution of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management: the Way Forward (CICI 2003) that was held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in February 2003. It recommended that FAO continue to give high priority to criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, including technical assistance and capacity building. It also recommended strengthening FAO's role in facilitating collaboration among criteria and indicators processes, noting that CICI conclusions in this area identified the following common thematic areas of sustainable forest management based on existing sets of criteria elaborated by regional and international criteria and indicators processes:

  1. extent of forest resources;
  2. biological diversity;
  3. forest health and vitality;
  4. productive functions of forest resources;
  5. protective functions of forest resources;
  6. socio-economic functions;
  7. legal, policy and institutional framework.

68. In light of the conclusions and recommendations of the CICI 2003, the Committee recommended that FAO, in collaboration with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), convene an international expert consultation to consider, inter alia, developing communication networks; improving common understanding of concepts and definitions; identifying approaches and methods for collecting, storing and sharing data; and strengthening cooperation. It urged organizers to hold this consultation in time to provide a report to UNFF4.

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