November 1996





Rome, Italy, 10-13 March 1997


Secretariat Note


This agenda item on the preparations for the XI World Forestry Congress, to be held in Antalya (Turkey) from 13 to 22 October 1997, is for information. The Congress, organized by the Ministry of Forestry of Turkey with technical and logistic assistance from FAO, is expected to bring together some 3000 participants. More than 1200 voluntary papers, 8 position papers and 50 special papers, dealing with 38 topics of the Technical Programme are being prepared.


1. The World Forestry Congress is generally organized every six years and has a long-standing tradition that goes back to the first Congress in 1926. In accordance with the guidelines agreed by the FAO Council at its sixty-fourth session (Rome, 18-29 November 1974), the Congress serves as a forum for the exchange of views and experiences and the formulation of recommendations applicable on a regional or world-wide basis. Its functions are advisory, not executive, and participants express their personal opinion and attend the Congress in a personal capacity. It provides guidance on matters pertaining to the formulation and implementation of forest policy, on standards and on main lines for future research, and assists international organizations in planning their future work.

2. The kind offer made by the Government of Turkey to host the eleventh World Forestry Congress in 1997 was accepted by the FAO Council at its hundred-and-eighth session in June 1995. The Congress will take place in the Antalya Greater Municipality Fair and Cultural Centre from 13 to 22 October 1997. The Ministry of Forestry of Turkey has established an Organizing Committee, chaired by the Undersecretary, which has five subcommittees: Scientific and technical, Social, Publications, Logistics and Exhibition, each one with Desk Officers under the supervision of the Secretary-General of the Congress. FAO assists the Organizing Committee in the preparations for the Congress. An agreement was signed between FAO and the Turkish Government for this purpose on 23 January 1996, by which FAO provides the Associate Secretary-General of the Congress, a Programme Officer and two General Service staff to assist with the development of the technical programme, the identification of invited authors and the review and processing of the documentation. Through an additional agreement, FAO will provide simultaneous interpretation services and the translation of publications and technical documentation.

3. Some 2,700 participants registered at the tenth World Forestry Congress held in Paris in 1991, and plans are being made for the Antalya Congress to receive as many as 3,000 participants. The Turkish Ministry of Forestry has been publicizing the Congress at international meetings such as HABITAT II and the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests; has sent information material to focal points in national forestry administrations and despatched the first information bulletin to more than 8,000 people in September 1996. The Minister of Forestry of Turkey also addressed an invitation to his colleagues in all countries in March 1996. FAO has promoted the Congress by providing information at the Regional Forestry Commissions which met in 1996, as well as in many other international fora. An Internet home page has been established by FAO providing the essential information.

4. The Assistant Director-General of FAO's Forestry Department consulted with heads of forestry administrations in February 1996 to obtain their views as to the possible structure of the technical programme of the Congress, and whether it should be organized by subject matter (or issues or criteria of sustainable forest management), by regions or ecoregions or by both thematic and ecological divisions. The majority of those responding preferred a thematic structure, but many indicated that a combination of both would be appropriate. The Congress, under the general theme Forestry for sustainable development: towards the XXI century, is being organized according to eight main areas encompassing 38 topics, the first seven areas corresponding to the criteria for sustainable forest management (SFM) adopted in the various ongoing international processes, and the eighth area corresponding to the review of experience in SFM in six major ecoregions.


5. The inputs to the technical programme of the Congress are of four types: (i) keynote presentations (a total of 12) to be introduced in three plenary sessions; (ii) position papers (a total of eight, one for each main area) to be prepared by invited authors; (iii) special papers (a total of 49) corresponding to themes, ecoregions and SFM processes, also to be prepared by invited authors, and (iv) voluntary papers which may be prepared by any person interested in contributing to any of the 38 topics of the technical programme. Special care has been taken to ensure a well diversified representation of regions and institutions in selecting the keynote speakers and the authors of position and special papers. By the deadline for submission of voluntary papers (31 October 1996) more than 1,000 voluntary papers had been proposed from more than 90 countries. Technical secretaries designated by the Turkish Scientific and Technical Committee and associate technical secretaries designated by FAO have reviewed the voluntary papers. Those which make a substantive contribution to the deliberations of the Congress have been taken into account in the preparation of special papers; they will be posted on Internet to stimulate pre-Congress discussion and their authors will be given an opportunity to make brief presentations at the Congress. The position and special papers for the Congress will be available in English, French, Spanish and Turkish. The voluntary papers will be available in their original language.

6. In order to involve a broad spectrum of interest groups in the Congress, the Organizing Committee is launching a number of initiatives targeted at specific groups. There will be a special session on women in forestry with one or more keynote speakers and the presentation of some 10 success stories on the involvement of women in forestry. A student award (for 10 undergraduate students), based on an essay on the general theme of the Congress, has been announced world-wide; a contest for young people aged 15-22 years - covering three areas (photography, graphic arts, posters) - offering three travel awards for each category is also being announced, and a special contest is envisaged for Turkish school children. NGO involvement throughout the programme of the Congress appears most promising. There will also be four satellite meetings immediately before the Congress which will provide inputs to the Congress - a consultation on the role of forestry in combating desertification, a session of Silva Mediterranea, a consultation on conflict management through community forestry and a meeting on technical cooperation in forestry between developing countries. Many side meetings will also take place, the main one being an informal Ministerial meeting convened by the Minister of Forestry of Turkey.


7. In addition to the Technical Programme of the Congress, participants will be offered the opportunity to take advantage of the many technical, cultural and recreational activities that the Antalya region and the Congress provide: meetings of many special groups, a forestry technology exhibition, a forestry and environment film festival, one-day study tours in areas of technical and cultural interest near Antalya, cultural programmes in the Aspendos ancient theatre and in other places and, after the Congress, four study tours covering four different ecoregions of Turkey.

8. In order to help participants, particularly from developing countries, who request financial assistance for travel expenses, a fund is being established by the Organizing Committee. The Turkish government has invited donors and the private sector to contribute to this fund.


9. The first information bulletin issued in September 1996 and the second in January 1997 (in three language versions - English, French, Spanish) provided the essential preliminary information as well as a pre-registration form. One more bulletin, with the registration form, is scheduled for distribution in April 1997. Congress documentation will be distributed in June 1997. Simultaneous interpretation during the Congress will be provided in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Turkish.


10. The XI World Forestry Congress is uniquely placed to provide technical response and give policy and strategic guidance to the forestry sector after the review by a special session of the UN General Assembly of UNCED agreements and, in particular, to follow up on the work of the CSD's Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. The Congress has therefore attracted great interest. Electronic communication through Internet and networking systems will stimulate pre- and post-Congress discussion and will ensure a very broad outreach among all those interested in forestry issues well beyond the institutions dealing with forestry matters at national and international levels.