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INTRODUCTION

1. The Twenty-Second Session of the North American Forest Commission (NAFC) was held in Veracruz, Mexico, at the kind invitation of the Government of Mexico, from 25 to 28 October 2004. The session was attended by 24 participants from the three member countries of the Commission, as well as observers representing the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat and the public and private sectors in the State of Veracruz. The agenda of the session is attached as Annex A, the list of participants as Annex B, and the list of documents submitted for consideration by the Commission as Annex C.

2. Mr. Manuel Reed Segovia, Chairperson of the Commission, welcomed participants to the session. He noted the importance of the Commission in addressing forest issues of common interest to its membership, with special reference to the contributions that the Working Groups have made to forest management in North America.

3. Mr. M. Hosny El-Lakany, Assistant Director-General, FAO Forestry Department, also welcomed participants on behalf of Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO. He thanked the Government of Mexico, in particular the National Forestry Agency (CONAFOR) and the State and City of Veracruz, for hosting the session. He stressed the important role played by regional forest commissions in helping FAO to identify issues and determine appropriate courses of action. He invited the participants to the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) to be held in Rome from 15 to 19 March 2005. He also informed the participants that the Director-General would be inviting Ministers responsible for forests to Rome for a high-level meeting on forests on 14 March 2005.

4. The Commission welcomed representatives from the state and local governments, noting in particular the ecological diversity of the Veracruz area and the importance of forest resources to the local economy.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA (Item 1)

5. The Commission approved the Provisional Agenda.

Douglas Kneeland (Secretary of the Commission, FAO) assisted the Committee.

STATE OF FORESTRY IN THE REGION (Item 3)

Canada

6. Canada's report included reference to the adoption of a new National Forest Strategy reflecting the vision and objectives of all elements of Canadian society with a direct interest in forests, including industry, all levels of government, local communities, and Aboriginal peoples. The Report also noted that Canada has produced a new national forest inventory and described the impact of insect pests such as the mountain pine beetle and the Asian long-horned beetle.

7. In his presentation to the Commission, Brian Emmett, head of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS), gave two examples of how CFS is addressing issues confronting Canada's forests. He described how CFS is seeking to work with Canadian industry on innovation and research, and the analysis underlying questions associated with fire management.

Mexico

8. Mr. Manuel Reed Segovia, Executive Director of CONAFOR, presented an overview of forestry in Mexico. He summarized advances in forestry in Mexico since it launched its new focus on sustainable forest management in 2001 when CONAFOR was established. He discussed the advances that Mexico has made in forestry, such as innovative programmes for the payment for environmental services provided by forests. Mexico continues to provide technical and financial support to forest owners to improve forest management. In 2003, support was provided to owners of 2.3 million hectares. 68,000 hectares of commercial forest plantations were established, in addition to the reforestation of more than 176,000 hectares.

9. In his presentation, Mr. Reed highlighted the implementation of the new Federal Sustainable Forest Development Law, which emphasizes increased local and community participation in the management of forest resources.

United States of America

10. The United States report summarized significant shifts in the use of public lands and the public values affecting management of natural resources. In addition, it focused on current challenges facing federal forest lands in the United States: fire and the build-up of fuel, invasive species, unmanaged recreation and loss of open space.

11. In the United States, use of forests has shifted as the population has become more urban and industrialized. In addition to providing timber and water, forested lands are increasingly valued for recreation, habitat for wildlife, and a range of other cultural, economic and environmental services.

12. The current emphasis in resource management of federal forest lands in the United States is on four major areas of threat to forest ecosystems. The United States has experienced a number of devastating fires in recent years; with fire effects that are far outside the historical range of variability. The cause of the severity of the fires is a combination of several factors. Under drought conditions, dense fuels can drive fires of unprecedented severity. Exotic plants, animals and disease also present a threat to many forests. Exotic diseases have eliminated or greatly reduced several valuable forest trees, including American chestnut and western white pine.

13. Travel to recreation destinations and national forests continues to grow. Each year, hundreds of miles of forest and rangeland ecosystems are damaged through the use and unapproved creation of roads and trails. Finally, populations in the United States continue to shift towards urbanization and development along the fringe of the urban and wildland boundaries. From 1982 to 2002, more than 13.8 million hectares of natural areas were lost to development. As part of this, forest ownerships are becoming smaller, and critical corridors for wildlife and habitat for forest interior species are being lost as large working forests are sold.

14. In his presentation, Mr. Dale Bosworth, Chief, USDA Forest Service, focused on the question: Is our forest management sustainable? While overall forests in the United States are in good condition, there are serious challenges to sustainability; including declining forest health, urbanization and fragmentation and unsustainable wood consumption. The solution to these challenges lies in stronger domestic and international collaboration.

REPORT OF THE BUREAU OF ALTERNATES (Item 4)

15. Ms. Erika López, Chairperson of the Bureau of Alternates, presented a report on the work of the Bureau of Alternates (BOA). Following the previous session of the Commission, the Bureau had met twice, in Guadalajara in March 2004, and in San José, Costa Rica in conjunction with the Pan-American Conference on Wildland Fire. In addition, the BOA had a conference call in November 2003. During these meetings, the Bureau developed the agenda for the 22nd Session of the Commission and monitored the progress of the NAFC Working Groups.

16. The Bureau recommended that the following people be recognized for outstanding contributions to the Commission: Yvan Hardy, Gordon Miller and Ms. Rosalie McConnell (Canada); Ms. Laura Lara (Mexico), and Jan Engert (USA). The Commission concurred and recognized these outstanding contributions.

17. The Bureau had considered opportunities for collaboration with the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission, which resulted in a presentation on NAFC Working Modalities at the 23rd Session of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (COFLAC) and the jointly-sponsored Pan American Conference on Wildland Fire that took place in San Jose, Costa Rica on 23 October 2004.

18. The Bureau encouraged Working Groups to improve the sharing of information with other Working Groups, especially through the NAFC web-site. The Bureau presented an overview of the NAFC web- site, and the US reminded members that the web site that is maintained by the USDA Forest Service on behalf of the Commission could be better utilized. The Commission requested Working Groups to utilize the NAFC web-site by forwarding reports, meeting notices, and membership changes to the NAFC web-master: lpaqueo@fs.fed.us.

Pan-American Conference on Wildland Fire

19. The FAO Secretariat, in consultation with the Bureaux of the North American Forest Commission and the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (COFLAC), with support from the Global Fire Monitoring Centre, had organized the Pan-American Conference on Wildland Fire in San Jose, Costa Rica, on 23 October 2004. Twenty-seven heads of national forestry agencies in the Western Hemisphere had participated in the Conference, which was the first time that the two Commissions had held a joint meeting. All members of the Commission and the Bureau of Alternates had participated in the Conference.

20. The Commission recommended that the “San Jose Declaration on Wildland Fire” be considered by the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Forests on 14 March 2005, and the 17th Session of the Committee on Forestry. The Commission also recommended that additional joint meetings could be planned in the future on matters of mutual interest to the two Commissions.

FAO FORESTRY ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST TO THE REGION (Item 5)

21. Several examples of collaboration between FAO and NAFC member countries were highlighted. Mexico and FAO are collaborating on a review of Mexico´s strategic forestry plan, as well as the national forestry programme. In addition, a visiting expert from Mexico assisted FAO with the development of a new global database on wood fuels. FAO and Canada jointly organized the successful XII World Forestry Congress held in Quebec City in September 2003. In addition, Canada and FAO are working on the International Model Forest Network in Africa and Asia. The United States of America and FAO jointly sponsored a global workshop on monitoring and reporting on the implementation of IPF/IFF proposals for action, as well as a regional workshop on implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action in Africa. The US recently became the first non-European donor country to join the National Forest Programme Facility, an independent mechanism hosted by FAO. The Facility is now supporting national forest programmes in 30 developing countries.

22. FAO continues to chair the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which had increased to include 14 members. FAO requested members to consider supporting the development of a new CPF Information Framework, noting that the US had already agreed to support this project which aims to streamline and harmonize forest-related reporting to CPF member organizations.

23. A representative of the UNFF Secretariat reported on recent developments and thanked all three NAFC member countries and FAO for supporting a country-led initiative planned for Mexico in

January 2005. She also noted that UNFF-5 in New York in May 2005 would include a high-level ministerial segment.

24. A report was presented on behalf of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) on an initiative to promote the use of science to support policy, an issue that has long been of interest to NAFC. A IUFRO task force is working on this issue, which will be discussed at the IUFRO World Congress in Australia in August 2005.

REVIEW OF WORKING GROUP ACTIVITIES (Item 6)

25. The Commission has seven active Working Groups that carry out activities in areas agreed to be high priority for collaboration among the member countries in the region. Representatives of each Working Group reported to the Commission on progress.

26. The Atmospheric Change and Forest Working Group met with members from the Forest Insects and Diseases Working Group in Banff, Canada, in September 2003 to discuss areas of collaboration and to share information on the relationship between forest inventories, forest fires and forest health. The Working Group also coordinated a project to examine the impact of carbon dioxide and methane emissions on the atmosphere in North America. The Working Group translated and revised a pamphlet on the effects of ozone on the atmosphere and forest resources. The Working Group has expressed interest in developing a center that can provide and develop atmospheric models to study the effects of atmospheric pollutants on forests of the region. The Working Group will reconvene in February 2005 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

27. The Fire Management Working Group reported that it had been very active in the past two years, and it made a number of recommendations, including a request for support for regional fire networks and support for the "Framework for the Development of the International Wildland Fire Accord" proposed by the Fire Working Group of the International Strategy for Disaster Relief. Mexico stressed the need for communication among the Commissioners and the need for the Working Groups to ensure that their activities are consistent with the national priorities of the three member countries. The Commission commended the Working Group for carrying out scientific work of a very high standard, noting that its work was of continuing relevance to each member country in its policy and planning work on wildland fire management.

28. The Commission endorsed the continuing participation of the NAFC Fire Management Working Group in Regional and Global Wildland Fire Networks. It also agreed that the Working Group should continue the dialogue and cooperation already under way at the Pan-American level. With respect to the proposals relating to endorsement of the "Framework" and support for proposals for a global agreement, the Commission felt that some further reflection was necessary. The Commission requested the Bureau of Alternates to further analyze the "Framework" and proposals for an international agreement, and to make a recommendation to the Commission in this regard. If the Commission were to arrive at a position satisfactory to all three member governments, the position of the Commission would be communicated to the Ministerial Meeting and to COFO by Canada in its capacity as the Chair of the Commission. The Bureau of Alternates was also requested to consult with the Fire Management Working Group on the Group's work plan.

29. The Forest Genetics Resources Working Group had organized several symposia, study tours and workshops. In addition, the Working Group had published several articles and was planning the release of a second edition of the book, Management of Forest Genetics Resources. The Working Group has created a web-based directory of training opportunities in forest genetics resources for Mexican professionals and students in North America. The Commission advised the Working Group to submit requests for funding future training, information transfer and related activities to the Bureau of Alternate. The Commission requested the Working Group to provide more detailed information on a proposal to create a North American center for the preservation of germ plasm to the Bureau of Alternates.

30. The Forest Insects and Diseases Working Group held a meeting in Canada in September 2003; the next meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in November 2004. The Working Group continued to develop the Exotic Forest Pest Information System for North America (EXFOR); sponsored the book Forest Diseases in Mexico; and completed a field investigation on oak mortality in Central Mexico. For the future, the Working Group is considering the positioning of traps in Japanese ports to monitor movement of the Asian Gypsy Moth. The Working Group requested US$8,000 to translate the EXFOR records from English into Spanish and French and US$18,000 to investigate the Western Pine Blister Rust. The Commission requested the Working Group to provide more details on its funding request for consideration by the Bureau of Alternates. The Commission recommended that the book Forest Diseases in Mexico be made available on CD-ROM for wider distribution. The Commission encouraged the Working Group to contact the appropriate agencies responsible for port inspections in order to improve the monitoring of the Asian Gypsy Moth.

31. The Invasive Plants ad hoc group plans to meet in February 2005 in Washington, D.C. to identify priorities, and to consider if they should merge with the Insects and Diseases Working Group or recommend the establishment of a new Working Group. Robert Mangold (USA) will chair the meeting. The following representatives were identified to participate in the meeting:

32. The Commission was informed by the FAO Secretariat that Invasive Species would be the topic of a side meeting of the 17th Session of the Committee on Forestry, with the discussion to be led by the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission. The NAFC Invasive Plants ad hoc group was invited to participate in the side meeting; if they are interested, they should contact Mr. Douglas Kneeland, Secretary of COFO, douglas.kneeland@fao.org.

33. The Forest Inventory, Monitoring and Assessment Working Group had met on an annual basis, most recently in Denver, Colorado, USA, and it had also participated in Expo Forestal 2004 in Mexico. The next meeting of the Group will be hosted by Canada in 2005, with Mexico as Chair. The Working Group held successful discussions with FAO on the issue of inconsistencies with respect to eco-regions and regarding regional approaches to the global Forest Resource Assessment 2005, on which work is well under way. All three countries are reviewing their own National Forest Inventories. The Working Group had invited members of other Working Groups to draw on the work on inventories as a way of facilitating their respective activities. The Commission appreciated the rapid progress that the Working Group had made in terms of sharing information and developing common standards and methodologies since it was established three years ago.

34. The Bureau of Alternates in March 2004 had reviewed the Forest Products Working Group and concluded that its work was important. It was noted that the non-wood products sub-committee had continued its activity over the years, but the other three sub-committees had not been very active. The BOA accepted the offer of Canada to chair the group. The first action of the new group was to reduce the number of sub-committees from four to two: one on wood products, and one on non-wood forest products. The group also recruited new members. The Working Group saw no need to change either its Mandate or its objectives. The Working Group has planned a number of activities for 2005, including a one-day workshop in June 2005 in Quebec City to discuss the market for North American wood products. The non-wood forest products sub-committee has planned a conference for August 2005 in Victoria.

35. The Silviculture Working Group had held a meeting in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico in October 2004, in which they had organized a joint symposium with the Forest Genetics Resources Working Group on “Potential effects of global warming on silviculture and forest genetic resources.”

The group had previously met in Quebec City in September 2003. They had published Silviculture and the conservation of genetic resources for sustainable forest management edited by Jean Beaulieu. For the future the working group was considering the publication of an article for the Forestry Chronicle, “Synthesis of silviculture priorities for sustainable management of mountain forest in North America.” Future activities include a workshop as a follow-up to the publication; additional collaboration with the Forest Genetic Resources Working Group and other Working Groups of the NAFC; updating the web-site; attracting university scientists to serve as members to the group; and requesting funds from the BOA to support the publication, translation, and distribution of the report on mountain forests. The Commission recognized the efforts of the Working Group to expand its scope to include temperate and boreal forests.

36. At its 21st Session, the Commission endorsed the establishment of a new Working Group on Watershed Management. However, the group had still not met. The Bureau of Alternates considered the situation, and each member agreed that watershed management remained an area in which all three countries were interested in collaboration. The US offered to organize an initial meeting of the Working Group. The following representatives were identified:

TECHNICAL PAPERS (Item 7)

Forest Environmental Services (Mexico)

37. Mexico presented a paper on Forest Environmental Services. The presentation focused on the operation of an innovative programme in Mexico to reimburse forest owners for good management practices. The programme highlights the importance of recognizing that forests provide a range of environmental services that are not directly valued in the private marketplace. The paper provided an overview of criteria for participating in the programme and the location of the eligible areas in Mexico. In order to qualify for payment for environmental services, at least 80% of the land area must be covered by forest, and the owner must agree to maintain forest on the land for at least five years.

38. The Commission underscored the importance of additional research and analysis with respect to payment for environmental services, noting that the same subject had been highlighted during the recent meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission in Costa Rica. In addition, the USA mentioned that a similar programme was under way in a watershed in the Catskills area near New York City, where forest owners are compensated for the contributions that well-managed forests make to clean water; FAO recalled that the programme in New York was highlighted in the 2003 edition of the State of the World´s Forests (SOFO). The Commission congratulated Mexico for its leadership in promoting and implementing this innovative programme.

Certification of Sustainable Forest Management (United States of America)

39. The United States of America presented a paper on Forest Certification in the North American Context. The presentation focused on the emergence of forest certification in the region and at the global level, in addition to providing a snapshot of certification in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Certified forests in North America represent more than half of all forests certified globally with some of the fastest uptake in certified areas occurring in Canada. The diversity of forestland ownership, forest types and forest policy frameworks in the region also reflects common challenges and driving factors that affect forest certification opportunities globally. The authors summarized benefits, constraints and drivers of future forest certification, as well as global trends, trade linkages and environmental market-driven demand.

40. The Commission noted the importance of recognizing the full costs to landowners who participate in certification. These costs often extend beyond the direct costs of the certification process and raise the question of long-term sustainability, without price premiums, especially for small and individual owners, such as those that characterize significant forest ownerships in Mexico and the United States. An additional perspective from Canada stressed the role that forest industry can play to increase awareness and education of the end-consumer about certification and what their choices mean in the context of sustainable forest management.

41. The Commission noted that certification was not widely used in tropical countries, raising questions about its relevance as a tool to reduce deforestation. The Commission raised questions about the net impact of certification on forest management on the ground and the importance of partnerships committed to the support of forest certification among diverse forest stakeholder groups.

Forest Resources Assessments (Canada)

42. Canada presented a comprehensive paper on Forest Resource Assessments in North America. The paper highlighted the importance of forest ecosystem inventory and monitoring. This information is needed for a variety of purposes, including land use and conservation policy, valuation of forest services and benefits, and planning and implementing management activities. This information directly supports reporting on and assessing criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management.

43. The Commission noted that significant steps had been taken towards the development of standardized forest inventories in the three NAFC member countries. The result will be compatible information that will facilitate the development of regional databases and monitoring of trends over time on a regional basis.

REGIONAL ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY THE COMMISSION FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY (COFO) (Item 8)

44. The Commission recommended that the following matters be brought to the attention of the Committee on Forestry at its 17th Session:

OTHER BUSINESS (Item 9)

45. The Commissioners discussed ways to strengthen the work of the Commission and make it even more relevant to each of the member countries. The Commission requested the Bureau of Alternates to take a more active role in preparing for the work of the 23rd session of the Commission in 2006. It was decided to hold a joint meeting between Commissioners and Alternates in Rome in March 2005 on the margins of the 17th Session of the Committee on Forestry.

To prepare for this meeting, the Bureau of Alternates was requested to:

BUSINESS OF THE COMMISSION

(a) Election of officers (Item 2)

47. The following officers were confirmed by the Commission to hold office during the forthcoming biennium:

48. The Commission designated Bill Singleton (Canada) as Chairperson of the Bureau of Alternates for the forthcoming biennium. The Bureau will also include Valdis Mezainis (United States of America), Ms. Erika López Rojas (Mexico) and Douglas Kneeland, FAO (Secretary of the Commission).

(b) Date and place of the next meeting (Item 10)

49. Canada invited the Commission to hold its next session in the year 2006. The Commission thanked Canada for its kind invitation.

50. The US noted that it had offered to host the 25th Session of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission planned for 2008, which is the same year that the US would normally host the North American Forest Commission under the rotation system. The US suggested that this would provide an opportunity for a joint meeting of the two Commissions.

(c) Adoption of the report
(Item 11)

51. The report was adopted by consensus.

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