1. At the invitation of the Government of Fiji, the twentieth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) was held in Nadi, Fiji, from 19 to 23 April 2004. Representatives of 29 member countries participated in the session, along with observers and representatives from 7 international organizations and 5 international non-governmental organizations. A list of participants is given in Appendix B. The Commission welcomed Timor Leste and Tonga as new members.
2. Mr. M. Hosny El-Lakany, Assistant Director-General and Head of the Forestry Department of FAO, welcomed participants on behalf of the Director-General of FAO. He thanked the Government of Fiji, and especially the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests for hosting the meeting and for the excellent arrangements. He noted that the Commission provided both FAO and participating countries an excellent opportunity to discuss emerging forest policy issues in the region, identify common problems, seek solutions and build collaboration.
3. Reflecting on current challenges in Asia-Pacific forestry, Mr. El-Lakany cited concerns over invasive species, illegal logging, forest fires, forest degradation, weak institutional capacity and the need for more effective implementation of participatory forestry. He highlighted the need to strike a balance between economic growth and equity, emphasizing the critical role forests play in alleviating rural poverty. He further stressed that forestry must be fully integrated with other sectors in policy development, particularly agriculture.
4. Mr. El-Lakany concluded by highlighting FAO’s efforts to enhance international dialogue and cooperation in forestry, through support to the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), and through leadership of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). He also emphasized the important role that the regional forestry commissions provide in linking the interests and concerns of countries at the regional level to the broader international dialogue.
5. His Excellency Konisi T. Yabaki, Minister of Fisheries and Forests of Fiji, welcomed participants and presented the inaugural address. He urged the Commission to remain sensitive to the vast diversity of the Asia-Pacific region and give due consideration to the needs and challenges faced by the small island nations of the South Pacific. At the same time, he observed that the current rapid pace of globalization and technological development demanded more international and regional cooperation than ever before. He applauded the efforts of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission in supporting the exchange of information and knowledge on best management practices, devolution of forest management, improved forest harvesting, rehabilitation of degraded lands, participatory approaches and implementation of national forest programmes.
6. Highlighting the objectives of Fiji’s forestry sector policies, His Excellency described the country’s efforts to develop appropriate forestry institutions and infrastructure, manage forests sustainably, create and manage community-owned plantations, establish locally owned and managed processing facilities, and promote the export of value-added timber products. He concluded by expressing optimism that the APFC session would give rise to solid recommendations for regional cooperation and improved management of the region’s forests.
7. Under the guidance of Ms. Oyundar Navaan-Yunden (Mongolia), on behalf of the outgoing Chair of the Commission, the provisional agenda (FO:APFC/2004/1) was reviewed and adopted (see Appendix A). Documents submitted for consideration by the Commission are listed in Appendix C.
8. The Commission unanimously elected the following individuals to hold office until the commencement of the twenty-first session:
|Chairperson:||H.E. Konisi T. Yabaki (Fiji)|
|Vice-Chairpersons:||N.K. Joshi (India)|
Sohn Chan-Joon (Republic of Korea)
Thang Hooi Chiew (Malaysia)
|Rapporteur:||David Rhodes (New Zealand)|
Mr. Patrick Durst (FAO) served as Secretary of the Commission.
9. The Commission considered agenda item 3 on the basis of national reports and Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/2, which presented an overview of forestry conditions and developments since the last session of the Commission. Several country delegates provided useful summaries of recent developments and issues in their countries.
10. Delegates cited several common threats to the region’s forests, including continued deforestation and degradation of natural forests, illegal and uncontrolled logging, invasive species, forest fires, unmanaged recreation and competition from alternative land uses. The Commission noted that countries were tackling these problems through a variety of measures, but were sometimes constrained by weak institutional capacity, insufficient budgetary resources and inadequate political will.
11. The Commission concluded that members were making progress toward sustainable forest management as a result of re-orientation of policies, decentralization and devolution of forest management, application of best management practices and codes of practice for forest harvesting, expansion of protected areas, acceleration of plantation development and rehabilitation of degraded areas. Several countries reported that deforestation had been curbed or even reversed, although the loss and degradation of natural forests were still a widespread problem. Countries generally reported increased use of criteria and indicators, certification, reduced impact logging, and participatory approaches in forest management.
12. The Commission recommended that member countries take further action to implement internationally agreed actions related to forests, especially the IPF/IFF proposals for action. It further recommended that FAO help convey member country experiences in working toward sustainable forest management, including successes and impediments, to the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and UNFF.
13. The Commission urged FAO to expedite its efforts to help countries build capacity for sustainable forest management, especially by facilitating interaction among countries and by organizing workshops and training sessions at the regional, sub-regional and national levels.
14. Concern was expressed by a number of countries over declining investments in the forest sector. The Commission urged member countries and FAO to explore new avenues for obtaining finance for sustainable forest management, including through partnerships with the private sector.
15. Delegates reported increased regional and bilateral cooperation in addressing illegal logging and associated illegal trade of forest products, but the Commission recommended still more collaboration among member countries in dealing with these problems. FAO was urged to provide additional technical support to help member countries control illegal logging and associated illegal trade, and to assess the costs and impacts of illegal logging.
16. The Commission acknowledged the importance of conserving biological resources effectively and recommended that FAO continue promoting this as a priority among its efforts to help countries achieve sustainable forest management.
17. The Commission recognized the significance of effective watershed management to ensure reliable supplies of clean water and acknowledged the complex links between forests and water. It requested FAO to continue providing sound scientific information on relationships between forests and water, including flooding, and on successful watershed management approaches.
18. On the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/3, the Commission reviewed APFC and FAO-supported forestry activities carried out during the past two years, including follow-up to recommendations of the nineteenth session of the Commission, and considered priorities for future work. Delegates also considered global and international activities and initiatives of interest to the region on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/4.
19. The Secretariat clarified that many regional activities supported by FAO were carried out within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission to take advantage of the Commission’s positive opportunities for multi-country and multi-organization collaboration. The Commission acknowledged the relevance of recent APFC and FAO-supported activities in the region and noted with appreciation the follow-up actions that had been taken on the recommendations of the nineteenth session.
20. Activities had generally concentrated on four areas: (a) ensuring sustainable supplies of wood and fiber; (b) continuous improvement in forest management; (c) devolution of forest management responsibilities; and (d) cross-cutting initiatives. Delegates noted the synergy between FAO’s Regular Programme and Field Programme activities, and efforts to work in partnership with other organizations in the region.
21. Despite much positive work initiated by member countries, the Commission stressed that further efforts were needed to develop and implement national forest programmes. The Commission urged member countries, FAO and the National Forest Programme Facility to strengthen support for implementing national forest programmes.
22. Delegates stressed the need for accurate and relevant data to support forest management planning and decision making. The Commission acknowledged the value and usefulness of the information disseminated under the Global Forest Resources Assessment, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study, and the State of Forestry in Asia and the Pacific—2003. FAO was requested to regularly collect and disseminate such information in collaboration with APFC member countries.
23. The Commission requested FAO to continue efforts to enhance national capacities for conducting forest resource assessments, including assessment of tree resources outside forests.
24. Member countries agreed to continue promoting the development and use of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and requested FAO to support this work. The Commission recommended that the seven thematic areas of sustainable forest management, as acknowledged by the International Conference on Criteria and Indicators in Guatemala (February 2003), the sixteenth session of the Committee on Forestry (March 2003) and further discussed at the recent FAO/ITTO Expert Consultation in the Philippines (March 2004), be used as globally agreed criteria for sustainable forest management, for harmonizing purposes.
25. The Commission recommended that FAO develop practical guidelines for the sustainable use of non-wood forest products, and work to improve marketing of such products.
26. Delegates noted the positive advances of many member countries in formulating and implementing national codes of practice for forest harvesting, consistent with the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific developed by APFC. FAO was requested to continue providing support for the implementation of codes of practice and the application of improved forest harvesting.
27. The Commission endorsed the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network, under the auspices of APFC. It urged FAO and member countries to support the network as a mechanism for sharing information on existing and potential forest pests and approaches for combating such pests. FAO was requested to work with member countries to mobilize funds to effectively manage the network.
28. Delegates acknowledged the importance and relevance of the international dialogue on forests for its member countries, but observed that many countries were unable to fully participate due to limited resources and capacity.
29. FAO was commended for its leadership in supporting the work of the CPF. The Commission urged FAO to continue providing strong support for the CPF, particularly its collaborating and coordinating functions.
30. The Commission appreciated the efforts of CPF members to streamline forest-related reporting and encouraged FAO and other CPF members to further simplify reporting in order to reduce the burden on countries.
31. The Commission urged FAO, in collaboration with other CPF members, to continue work to harmonize concepts, terminology and definitions used in assessing, monitoring and reporting on sustainable forest management.
32. During a special in-session seminar, the Commission reviewed preliminary results from an APFC initiative to identify some instances of exemplary forest management in the region. Background information was provided in Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/5 and presentations were offered by eight speakers from throughout the region. The agenda of the in-session seminar is attached as Appendix D.
33. Delegates were informed that the In Search of Excellence initiative had resulted in more than 170 nominations of forests considered to be well managed, covering 20 countries. The nominations represented a broad range of forest types, management objectives, scale of operations and ownership patterns, reinforcing the premise that there is no single definition of exemplary forest management. However, it was still possible to distil common elements contributing to excellence, such as societal consensus on management objectives and approaches, attention to livelihoods for forest-dependent people, application of best management practices, and strong commitment to attaining excellence.
34. The Commission appreciated the approach and process used in undertaking the initiative, particularly the emphasis on recognizing and accentuating positive experiences in forest management. Delegates noted the potential for the initiative to help counter the preponderance of negative publicity on forests and to serve as a catalyst in motivating further improvements in forest management. They recognized that the initiative had stimulated healthy debate among stakeholders on what constitutes good forest management and how to achieve it.
35. Delegates acknowledged the potential to transfer lessons and experiences from case study forests to similar situations throughout the region. Similarly, they recognized that the model of common elements of good forest management, based on analysis of the case study forests, provided a valuable summation of issues that could guide forest management in a variety of contexts.
36. The Commission noted that strong bonds tend to link exemplary forest managers to their forests. It further recognized the importance of discernable “champions” in promoting excellence in forest management. An additional key to successful management was related to ensuring the extensive involvement of all stakeholders in establishing the parameters and goals for forest management, especially at local levels.
37. The Commission was informed that a publication featuring the 28 case studies and supporting analysis would be published in the near future. The Commission recommended that the results of the In Search of Excellence initiative be widely distributed and promoted through media briefings, workshops, and the preparation of materials to help managers of nominated forests to promote a common message. The Commission also suggested that FAO consider organizing a side meeting at the next session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) to feature the initiative.
38. The Commission considered the challenges of securing adequate financing for sustainable forest management on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/6. Several member countries shared their experiences in developing innovative funding approaches to support forest management.
39. Some countries had established special funds to support forest management and conservation, which were being financed by voluntary contributions, taxes and fees, donor grants and other sources. Others countries were testing mechanisms for compensating the provision of environmental services and developing markets for previously non-marketed goods and services.
40. The costs of fully implementing sustainable forest management were recognized to be significantly above current expenditure levels. FAO was encouraged to strengthen its work with donor countries and financial institutions to help facilitate the efforts of developing countries to implement sustainable forest management, especially during their transition to sustainable forest management.
41. Delegates recognized that countries with valuable commercial forest resources could potentially finance sustainable forest management by improving pricing and taxation systems, strengthening measures for collecting royalties and fees, and controlling illegal activities. Success depended on effective policies, sound measures for collection and supportive legal systems. FAO was requested to continue providing information and advice related to these needs.
42. Delegates acknowledged the potential to generate income and employment from non-wood forest products, environmental services (e.g., carbon sequestration, provision of clean air and water) and ecotourism. The actual realization of such benefits was currently limited, however, and their significance as a source of funding for forestry was still to be determined. The Commission requested FAO to facilitate the exchange of information and experience related to the valuation and the development of markets for these products and services.
43. FAO was urged to continue raising awareness of the contributions that forests make to the environment, rural development, poverty alleviation and other economic sectors (e.g. tourism, water resources). The Commission requested FAO to maintain efforts to ensure that sound scientific knowledge on the actual benefits provided by forests and trees was readily available to policy makers and other decision makers.
44. The Commission requested FAO to distribute information on available guidelines for assessing the magnitude of environmental services provided by forests and the impacts and repercussions of unsustainable forest management and forest clearing.
45. The Commission considered alternative forest management models, particularly those oriented towards achieving sustainability and alleviating poverty, during an in-session seminar. Background information was provided in Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/7, and presentations were provided by five resource persons from throughout the region. The agenda of the in-session seminar is attached as Appendix E.
46. Participants noted that member countries were increasingly testing and applying innovative and alternative forest management models in an attempt to deal more effectively with the pressures being exerted on forests from population growth, agricultural expansion, increasing demand for forest products, industrial development and rapid economic growth. Promising models of management typically transferred forest management authorities and responsibilities to local governments, civil society and the private sector. Increased involvement of stakeholders, secure resource tenure, innovative partnerships, increased equity and application of landscape approaches to managements were common elements of success.
47. The participants reviewed experiences with decentralization and devolution of forest management, community-based forest management, the model forest approach to sustainable forest management and transfer of forest management roles to the private sector. Delegates pointed out that extensive experience had been gained with some approaches, such as community forestry, while others, such as the model forest approach, had been introduced only recently.
48. Delegates noted that the processes of devolution and decentralization of forest management had not always been smooth, and at times had stalled as a result of conflicts between local governments and forest users. Moreover, foresters had sometimes been perceived as being reluctant to participate in, or lead, the processes of devolution and decentralization, or had even been perceived as being opposed to these trends.
49. Delegates confirmed an increasing trend in the region to involve the private sector in forest management through long-term lease arrangements, management concessions and privatization of forest resources. While the benefits of such approaches may be substantial in the long term, privatization in some cases may have negative social and environmental implications in the near term. Acceptable risk, combined with financial risk, is essential for success, and this will be heavily influenced by the operating environment within countries.
50. The Commission appreciated the positive experiences of several countries in implementing the model forest approach to sustainable forest management, with support from FAO and donor countries. Noting that existing model forests in the region still required donor support to achieve their full potential, and that several other countries were interested in applying the model forest approach, the Commission urged FAO to continue discussions with donors to secure funding for a proposed regional model forest network in Asia and the Pacific.
51. Delegates agreed that none of the alternative forest management models eliminated the need for government forestry agencies. Rather, the roles of forestry agencies may be altered under the new modalities, and the skills needed to manage forests and facilitate these new approaches may differ from those needed in the past. The Commission requested FAO to review the changing needs, demands and expectations placed on forestry agencies as a result of the transition to alternative forest management models and to assist forestry agencies in reorienting, retraining and restructuring, as appropriate.
52. The Commission recommended that FAO continue monitoring experiences in implementing alternative forest management models, disseminate information on such experiences and support efforts to strengthen capacities for effective implementation.
53. The Commission considered recent developments related to global, regional and bilateral forest-related agreements and arrangements on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/8.
54. The Commission commended FAO for informing member countries of the developments in international forest policy deliberations, especially the IPF/IFF/UNFF processes, as well as regional agreements and initiatives. Delegates expressed a range of views about the value and feasibility of various options for international and regional approaches, including legally and non-legally binding options.
55. The Commission recommended that member countries actively participate and provide forestry expertise in the intergovernmental negotiations related to forests, especially the UNFF and the conventions on biological diversity, desertification and climate change.
56. The Commission recognized the need for thorough regional preparations prior to the fifth session of UNFF in 2005, which will decide on future international arrangements on forests. The Commission requested FAO to examine the possibility of organizing an intersessional meeting for this purpose, or to provide other mechanisms to assist countries’ preparations.
57. The Commission recognized the value and practical benefits of existing regional forest-related agreements and initiatives and urged member countries to strengthen their commitment to implement them, including the Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia-Pacific. FAO and other international organizations were requested to continue support for the effective implementation of these regional mechanisms.
XII World Forestry Congress
58. The Commission was informed of the outcomes of the XII World Forestry Congress on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/INF.4. The Commission noted that the Asia-Pacific region had been well represented at the World Forestry Congress, with more than 250 participants and a high number of written contributions.
Wildland fire agreements
59. The Commission was informed of the outcome of the International Wildland Fire Summit, convened in Sydney, Australia, in October 2003, and recent developments related to the establishment and implementation of international wildland fire agreements on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/INF.5.
60. Forest fires remained a key concern of member countries. The Commission encouraged member countries and FAO to intensify regional collaboration on combating and preventing forest fires. FAO was requested to further assist member countries in the formulation and implementation of effective training programmes to prevent, control and manage forest fires.
61. The Commission acknowledged the establishment of several bilateral and regional agreements intended to facilitate cooperation in managing and combating wildland fires, including the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which entered into force in late 2003. It encouraged member countries to provide strong support for the effective implementation of such existing agreements.
62. The Commission requested FAO to examine the potential strengths and weaknesses of regional and global arrangements on forest fires, including the feasibility of developing and implementing a global agreement on forest fires, taking into account the lessons learned from the development and implementation of existing bilateral and regional arrangements.
63. The Commission was informed of the opportunity to further discuss issues related to forest fires, including options for developing a global fire agreement, at the seventeenth session of COFO, in 2005. Forest fire issues could also be discussed at the Ministerial meeting the Director-General intends to convene at the time of COFO.
64. Recognizing the Committee on Forestry’s stated desire to see the regional forestry commissions strengthened, the Commission wished to bring to the attention of COFO the renewed vitality of the APFC, as demonstrated by the large number of important inter-sessional activities in the past two years and the record level of participation in the twentieth session. The Commission considered it particularly noteworthy that these activities were achieved largely as a result of the commitment and contributions of member countries themselves.
65. The Commission drew attention to its call for FAO and other CPF members to continue supporting member countries in implementing the IPF/IFF proposals for action through effective national forest programmes, consistent with the recommendations of COFO and various other international fora. The Commission further highlighted the important role of the National Forest Programme Facility in supporting member countries in these endeavours.
66. Cognizant of the global concern over illegal logging and associated illegal trade of forest products, the Commission wished to highlight its request to FAO to provide additional technical support to help member countries control illegal logging and associated trade, and to assess the costs and impacts of illegal logging.
67. The Commission wished to inform COFO that it had requested FAO to examine the potential strengths and weaknesses of regional and global arrangements on forest fires, including the feasibility of developing and implementing a global agreement on fire.
68. The Commission wished to highlight to COFO the need to raise awareness of the serious threats from invasive species and the need to build capacities for dealing with such threats. The Commission was pleased to inform COFO of the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network, created under the aegis of APFC.
69. Recognizing that issues related to the supply and use of fresh water had become globally significant, and that the complex linkages between forests and water were often poorly understood, the Commission wished to draw to the attention of COFO its request to FAO to continue providing sound scientific information on relationships between forests and water, including flooding, and on successful watershed management approaches.
70. The Commission wished to highlight to COFO the significant progress made by many member countries in the region in formulating and implementing national codes of practice for forest harvesting, consistent with the regional code developed under the auspices of APFC. The Commission wished to suggest to COFO that the approaches and experiences of Asia-Pacific countries in developing and implementing codes of practice could provide a useful model for other regions.
71. The Commission wished to draw attention to its highly successful In Search of Excellence initiative that resulted in more than 170 nominations of forests throughout the region considered to be well managed. The initiative helped showcase positive experiences of forest management and heightened consideration of what constitutes good management. The Commission wished to highlight its recommendations for continuing activities under the initiative and further disseminating the results, including through a recommended side meeting at the next session of COFO.
72. Acknowledging widespread interest in the potential to generate income and employment from non-wood forest products, environmental services and ecotourism, the Commission wanted to draw to the attention of COFO its request that FAO facilitate the exchange of information and experience related to the valuation and the development of markets for these products and services.
73. The Commission noted that forest management approaches were evolving rapidly throughout the world, including through the use of criteria and indicators to assess, monitor and report progress toward the achievement of sustainable forest management. Recognizing that these changes necessitated new skills and capabilities within forestry agencies, the Commission wished to inform COFO of its recommendation that FAO review the changed needs, demands and expectations being placed on forestry agencies and assist them in reorienting, retraining, and restructuring, as appropriate.
74. Acknowledging the importance of the fifth session of UNFF in 2005, which will decide on future international arrangements on forests, the Commission wished to highlight to COFO its request for FAO to examine the possibility of organizing an inter-sessional meeting to assist countries of the region in preparing for the upcoming UNFF session.
Report of the Regional Workshop on Implementing IPF/IFF Proposals for Action through National Forest Programmes: Strategies, Initiatives and Tools
75. The Co-Chair of the workshop, Mr. Livo Mele (Vanuatu), presented a summary report of the workshop (see Appendix F). The pre-session workshop had been attended by 67 experts, including representatives of member countries, CPF organizations, and other international, regional and sub-regional organizations, including non-governmental organizations.
76. Workshop participants had adopted 17 recommendations, primarily addressed to countries, on the following topics:
(a) implementing proposals for action;
(b) stakeholder participation;
(c) cross-sectoral cooperation; and
(d) forests and poverty reduction.
77. The workshop had concluded that there were numerous positive examples in the region of implementing the IPF/IFF proposals for action, especially through national forest programmes, despite limited capacity to implement action and to report on progress.
78. The Commission recommended that FAO, in collaboration with other CPF members, continue to facilitate the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action; assist countries in sharing experiences; and help build capacity of countries to effectively participate and negotiate in international fora and follow their progress.
79. The Commission endorsed the workshop report and encouraged member countries to effectively implement its recommendations.
Report of the Workshop on Developing an Action Plan for Addressing Forest Invasive Species in Asia and the Pacific
80. The Rapporteur of the workshop, Mr. Robert Kiapranis (Papua New Guinea), presented a summary report of the workshop (see Appendix G). The pre-session workshop had been attended by 20 experts, including several national focal points for forest invasive species from AFPC member countries.
81. The workshop had inaugurated the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network, under the auspices of the Commission, and had identified priority areas of work in the following areas:
(a) organizational structures to support the
(b) stock-taking of national activities;
(c) awareness raising;
(d) capacity building; and
(e) database and information sharing.
82. The Commission endorsed the workshop report and encouraged member countries to effectively implement the action plan and related activities within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network.
Report of the First Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission Executive Committee
83. A summary of the deliberations and recommendations of the First Meeting of the APFC Executive Committee, convened in December 2003, was presented by Ms. Oyundar Navaan-Yunden (Mongolia), on behalf of the outgoing Chair of the Commission, on the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2004/INF.6.
84. The Executive Committee had conducted an analysis of APFC strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Recommendations had been made in the following areas:
(a) enhancing the profile of APFC;
(b) enhancing the involvement of member countries in APFC activities;
(c) increasing the participation of the private sector and NGOs in APFC activities;
(d) increasing funding support for APFC activities;
(e) streamlining and clarifying the way APFC functions;
(f) increasing the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Committee; and
(g) strengthening the APFC Secretariat.
85. The Commission endorsed the report of the meeting and its recommendations. It recognized the valuable contributions of the Executive Committee in reviewing and guiding the work of the Commission and recommended that regular meetings of the Executive Committee be convened between the main sessions of the Commission, giving due consideration to budget implications.
86. The Commission noted with appreciation offers of the delegations from India, Philippines and Viet Nam to host its twenty-first session.
87. The draft report was adopted by the Commission with minor corrections and clarifications, which are reflected in this report.
88. His Excellency Konisi T. Yabaki, Minister of Fisheries and Forests, Government of Fiji, officially closed the session.