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1. Introduction

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission Mandate
Objectives of the study
Scope of the study
Study methods and approaches
Evolving perspectives on the value and use of forests

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission Mandate

During the Sixteenth Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), held in Myanmar, in January 1996, the Commission endorsed the implementation of a comprehensive Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS). The Commission recognised that the impressive recent growth of the forestry sector in the Asia-Pacific region, together with the importance assigned to forestry on the international scene, made execution of the study a potentially important aid for decision-making on national, regional, and global issues. The Commission also considered the study to be an appropriate initiative in the context of current efforts to strengthen its own work between sessions and to see greater focus on regional issues.

The Commission underlined the importance of analysing the forestry sector in the context of the broader macro-economic and social environment, with due attention to relationships with closely-linked sectors such as agriculture and energy, and taking into account such parameters as substitution and price developments. The Commission further directed that the study should reflect a proper balance between environment and development issues, and that special emphasis should be given to the future perspectives of the forestry sector. It called for the incorporation of member country experiences, particularly with regard to successes in sustainable forest management, and careful consideration of non-wood forest products, recent developments in research and technology, and inter-linkages between regional and global developments.

The Commission encouraged FAO to actively involve member countries in conducting the study and to maximise the use of local expertise. It also recommended that the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific be fully and actively involved in carrying out the study. The Commission further urged FAO to seek support from the private sector, given the importance of the study for industry. The Commission directed that a comprehensive report and recommendations for follow-up be presented at its Seventeenth Session in early 1998.

Objectives of the study

The objectives of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study have been: a) to collect, review and interpret existing and specially-commissioned information on the status and trends of key aspects of the forestry sector (and developments that affect it) from a regional perspective; and b) to present possible paths for future development of the forestry sector through the year 2010.

In pursuing these objectives, the study has sought to:

· place both the internal and external driving forces influencing the development of the sector in context;

· pay particular attention to the roles of forests in supporting livelihoods, principally through modem industry and trade, but also through small-scale enterprises and subsistence-level activities of forest-dependent communities;

· provide complete thematic coverage of the forestry sector, with the exception of wildlife management which is only referred to in terms of protected areas habitat;

· fully consider protective, productive (or economic) and social functions of forests within the context of sustainability; and

· address the implications of possible policy decisions and directions, including requirements for institutional development and investment.

An important element of the study has been to draw attention to the implications of expected future development and variations of the future for policy and action, including for regional co-operation and for investment. The approach has been not so much to recommend specific policy or action initiatives but to provide decision-makers with insight into the likely implications of important developments within and outside the sector.

Scope of the study

Core elements of the study include reports on the status, trends and future prospects of the following items:

· services of forests including aspects of environment, protected areas, and conservation;

· production, consumption and trade of industrial wood products, wood energy, non-wood forest products and services;

· extent and management of forest resources and trees outside forests;

· growing global concerns for environmental, social, and sustainability dimensions of forestry development, and possible implications for future industrial raw material supplies and for trade;

· interactions between people and forests and various social issues arising from these interactions;

· evolution of policies and institutions and future directions and priorities; and

· implications of policy choices on the future of forestry in the region.

The development of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study has been closely co-ordinated and linked with other FAO studies, including the Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA2000), the Global Fibre Supply Study (GFSS), and the Global Outlook for Forests and Forest Products. FRA2000 has provided foundation data on forest area, key characteristics of the forest resource base, and forest cover changes. The GFSS has been the source of estimates on supply potential for industrial fibre. Likely developments in the consumption, production, and trade of forest products have been projected using a general equilibrium Global Forest Products Model initially used by FAO for global projections. These components provide the analytical foundation necessary to provide the historical base and the projections used in this study.

Countries and collaborating organisations have provided vast amounts of information, in the form of country and thematic reports, in support of the APFSOS. These country and thematic studies have provided the basis for interpreting and explaining what drives change in individual countries. They have also helped to illustrate the rich variety of situations throughout the region.

For purposes of the APFSOS, the "Asia-Pacific region" is defined to encompass all countries and territories from Pakistan in the west to the International Dateline in the east; and from Mongolia, the People's Republic of China and Japan in the north to the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand in the south (Figure 1.1 and Box 1.1). The study did not specifically include the Russian Far East or any of the Americas. However, considering the close relationships between Asia and these areas, various study components (particularly those dealing with trade issues) paid careful attention to developments in these regions. Out of a total of 33 countries and territories in the Oceania sub-region, 10 were included in the study, based on relative size and the availability of data. A full listing of the countries and territories included in the study is given in Box 1.1, along with the economic and geographical sub-regional groupings used. Taiwan Province of China and the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hong Kong have been analysed separately from the People's Republic of China due to the significant differences in levels of economic development and individual significance in forest products trade.

Figure 1.1: Countries and territories included in the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study

Study methods and approaches

Although FAO co-ordinated the implementation of the ASFSOS, the principle of broad participation and involvement guided the study throughout. Shortly after the study was endorsed by the APFC, member countries nominated national focal points for the study. The focal points were instrumental in collecting and providing national-level information for the study, and in overseeing the preparation of country profile reports.1

1 The study made maximum use of existing reports and information, but numerous topics required in-depth studies or updated information. In all, more than 45 working papers were prepared, including 20 country profile reports provided by member governments (a joint profile was prepared by FAO for the Pacific Islands and some in-depth country studies were sponsored by FAO). More than 25 thematic studies were carried out by consultants, co-operating organisations and ongoing projects and programmes.


North Asia (NA)

Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Japan (AIE)
The People's Republic of China
- Hong Kong SAR, China (NIE)
- Taiwan Province of China (NIE)
The Republic of Korea (NIE)

Southeast Asia (SEA)

People's Democratic Republic of Lao (Laos)
Singapore (NIE)
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

South Asia (SA)

Sri Lanka

Pacific Islands (PI)

Australia (AIE)
Cook Islands
New Caledonia
New Zealand (AIE)
Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands

Note: Recognising commonalities between countries and territories at different stages of industrialisation, those labelled AIE (Advanced Industrial Economies) and NIE (Newly Industrialising Economies) have been grouped together in the analysis.

Evolving perspectives on the value and use of forests

The people of Asia and the Pacific have traditionally had a very close and highly dependent relationship with the region's forests. For centuries, forests have supplied a multitude of food, fibre, medicines, fodder, construction materials and environmental services. The rejuvenative powers of the moist tropical forests have helped sustain large numbers of shifting cultivators, while temperate, swamp, alpine and other types of forests have all provided sources of food, fuel and other necessities to indigenous peoples and more recently to migrants. Societies throughout the region developed well-defined customary laws governing the protection, allocation, and use of forests and forest products.

The twentieth century, particularly after the Second World War, brought rapid economic expansion and large population increases to many countries in the region. These forces greatly hastened the exploitation of forest resources and conversion of forestlands to other uses, particularly agriculture. The forests increasingly were viewed largely as sources of timber and quickly convertible capital and as "land banks" for further agricultural expansion.

Forest resources have helped to fuel surging economic development in some countries of the region. In particular, countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, New Zealand and Indonesia have utilised forest resources as catalysts for development. Several other forest-rich countries in the region which are moving toward market economies (e.g. Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia and Viet Nam) are striving to attain a fast-growth trajectory and may well use forest resources to fuel growth. In these countries, the transition to more open and flexible economies may, bringing greater prosperity, increase demand for forest products. This could bring new risks and threats to forest resources, and may call for new management approaches.

Recent years have brought considerable rediscovery of the broader range of values and uses of forests in Asia and the Pacific as elsewhere. These emerging perspectives include recognition of a much wider range of forest values. There has been a renaissance of appreciation for traditional and customary forest use, especially that by forest-dwelling and forest-dependent people and a distinct shift away from the custodial approaches of the previous colonial powers. Values for which appreciation has grown stronger include environmental stability, conservation of diverse biological resources, quality water supplies, food security, recreation, and manifold livelihood opportunities. An issue raised from a variety of perspectives has been how to ensure sustainable flows of these benefits. Various global, regional and local dimensions of this issue have been examined.

These broadened perspectives on forest roles are reflected in a proliferation of international initiatives designed to enhance both the management of forests and the benefits derived from them. From the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) has come a variety of conventions, fora, and initiatives that have direct implications for forest management; UNCED has also led to more assiduous application of older conventions such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Increased appreciation of the complex ecological roles played by forests is also contributing to greater understanding of critical limits to development. For example, demands for quality water supplies could well prove the determining factor leading to decisions to conserve forests and to arrest deforestation in populous countries of mainland Asia, and the smaller countries of the Pacific.

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