January 1997




Item 11 of the Provisional Agenda


Rome, Italy, 10-13 March 1997


Secretariat Note


1. The purpose of this note is to inform the Committee of those decisions which are of interest to it taken by the FAO Governing Bodies (Conference, Council) since its twelfth session. Views and recommendations of the FAO Regional Conferences pertinent to the work of the Committee are also summarized in this note. Action taken in response to recommendations made is reported to the respective bodies. However, if delegates so request, the Secretariat is prepared to report orally on progress made.


2. The report of the twelfth session of the Committee on Forestry (Rome, 13-16 March 1995) was considered by the FAO Council at its hundred and eighth session (June 1995). In endorsing the report, the Council:

Commended the Director General for calling the first Meeting of Ministers responsible for forestry in conjunction with this session of COFO, and welcomed his initiative to launch a process of broader consultation on forestry matters, including with representatives of the private sector and NGOs.

Agreed with the continued need to strengthen partnerships through cooperation and joint initiatives with other agencies and organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and others.

Endorsed the concern expressed by COFO that, while the budget allocation to the Forestry Department had been increased by the hundred and sixth session of the Council (June 1994), there was a need for continued increase of resources within the 1996-97 Regular Programme to face the complex and important responsibilities of FAO in forestry. Drew attention to the importance of non wood forest products, and the linkages between forestry and other sectors.

Requested FAO to continue its role as Task Manager for Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, within the United Nations System and, as requested by CSD, to participate fully in the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Forests including support to the Secretariat in its substantive tasks.

Recognized the importance of the criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and of the initiatives which had been taken in their respect. Requested FAO to continue to support and facilitate them. Called for FAO to give continued priority to support for national forestry action plans within the framework of UNCED agreements, and the enhanced role of the Regional Forestry Commissions.

The Council considered the offers made by member countries and decided to accept the offer of Turkey to host the eleventh World Forestry Congress.

In reviewing the Programme Evaluation Report 1994-95 (C95/4), the Council expressed strong support for the sub-programmes covered by the Report as high priority areas of FAO including Community Forestry Development (



3. The Conference passed the following resolution:

Resolution 3/95

The Broadening of the mandate of the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources to cover genetic resources relevant to food and agriculture

Recognizing that the approaches to plant, forestry, animal and fisheries genetic resources are different and require specialized expertise in each field, best supplied through a number of intergovernmental technical sectoral working groups.

Decides to broaden the mandate of the Commission to cover all components of biodiversity of relevance to food and agriculture.

Further decides that the Commission shall be known hereafter as "Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture".

Further decides that the implementation of the broadened mandate1 of the Commission shall be carried out through a step-by-step approach, beginning with animal genetic resources, in a manner that will not adversely affect the important processes under way within the Commission for the preparation of the fourth International Technical Conference to be held in mid-1996 and for negotiating the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, which are the pressing priority activities of the Commission.

Requests the Council, at its hundred and tenth session, to adopt suitable statutes for the broadened mandate of the Commission, on an interim basis, and, if necessary, to review them at a future session in light of the relevant developments.


Medium-term Plan 1996-2001

4. In examining the Medium-Term Plan, particular reference was made, among other issues, to:


FAO's work in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, covering plant, animal and aquatic resources, in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; and


the usefulness of the information on partnership arrangements on which the continued search for complementarity of action with other organizations and institutions, as well as broader contacts with the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), was encouraged.

Programme of Work and Budget 1996-97

5. The conference welcomed the increase in resources for forestry activities and underscored the importance of further work on forest resources assessment, support to national forestry action plans, and community forestry. The expected contribution of the Major Programme: Forestry to UNCED follow-up, including support to the Commission on Sustainable Development and its Inter-governmental Panel on Forests, was underlined.

6. The Conference approved a total effective working budget of US$650 million for the financial period 1996-97, representing a real reduction in the budgetary resources of the Organization.


7. At its hundred and ninth session (October 1995) and its hundred and tenth session (November 1995), the FAO Council made no recommendation of specific relevance to the Forestry Programme.


8. The Council, through resolution, decided to authorize the Director General to broaden the mandate of the Advisory Committee on Pulp and Paper to include panel products and sawn wood. It further decided to change the title of the Committee to "Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP)", that ACPWP shall consist of not less than 15 and not more than 25 leading experts, familiar with problems of forest industries, designated by the Director-General, serving in their personal capacity and at their own expense, reflecting broadly the interests of producer and consumer countries and representative of the several regions, and to abolish the Committee on Wood-Based Panel Products.

9. The Council approved the revised calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and other main sessions 1996-97, recommending that the duration of sessions of the Committees on Forestry and on Fisheries be reduced in the light of the Council's discussions on achieving savings in meetings of Governing Bodies and related committees. This principle of achieving savings should not adversely affect the quality of the work of these committee meetings.

10. The Council approved the change of the English title of the North American Forestry Commission to "North American Forest Commission" on the understanding that this change in terminology did not necessarily constitute a precedent for the interpretation of the word "forestry" in other contexts.

11. The Council took note of the statement made by the representative of Turkey regarding preparations to date for the eleventh World Forestry Congress (Antalya, 13-22 October 1997). It thanked Turkey for its considerable efforts to provide a substantial programme of meetings and field trips, as well as the necessary facilities to help ensure the success of the Congress.


12. The twenty-third session of the Regional Conference for the Near East was held in Rabat (Morocco) from 26 to 29 March 1996. In relation to future ministerial meetings in conjunction with sessions of the Committees on Fisheries and on Forestry (COFI and COFO), the conference recommended that the Director-General, in consultation with member countries, convene future ministerial meetings in conjunction with COFO and COFI sessions whenever appropriate. Full flexibility should be given to him with regard to the 1997 sessions.

13. The nineteenth Regional Conference for Africa was held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) from 16 to 20 April 1996. In relation to future ministerial meetings in conjunction with sessions of COFI and COFO, the Conference endorsed the convening of such meetings and agreed that the Director-General be given flexibility for convening them but opined that they should be held only when major issues pertaining to the sectors needed to be addressed. The Conference also called for FAO's financial support to facilitate participation as required in such meetings.

14. The twenty-third session of the Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific was held in Apia (Western Samoa) from 14 to 18 May 1996. In relation to future ministerial meetings in conjunction with sessions of COFI and COFO, the Conference supported in principle the convening of such meetings but only when issues of enough significance and urgency to warrant the highest levels of consideration had emerged. The Director-General was urged to seek consensus from member countries on the need and timing for such meetings in the future, and on the issues to be addressed. Regarding the report on FAO activities in the region: 1994-1995, the Conference welcomed the outcome of the sixteenth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), particularly the establishment of an ad hoc working group on sustainable forest management in the Asia-Pacific region. It supported the initial priority task of the working group, which is the preparation of a code of practice for forest harvesting in the region.

15. The twenty-fourth Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Asunción (Paraguay) from 2 to 6 July 1996. In relation to future ministerial meetings in conjunction with sessions of COFI and COFO, the Conference agreed with the Director-General of FAO in the sense that it is preferable not to organize ministerial meetings jointly with those of COFI and COFO in 1997. Likewise, the Conference expects that the Director-General, in the light of the exceptional nature of these meetings, to continue consulting member countries regarding the possible holding of future ministerial meetings in conjunction with one or the other technical Committees.

16. The twentieth Regional Conference for Europe was held in Tel Aviv (Israel) from 29 April to 3 May 1996. The Conference stressed, among other items, the importance of sustainable water management and control in the Mediterranean area and the need for sound choices in the use of water between and within sectors as well as the importance of forestry and forest management in the Mediterranean area and the problem of damage caused by forest fires. In relation to future ministerial meetings, the Conference advised the Director-General to arrange future sessions in conjunction with COFI and COFO sessions only if appropriate, and in close consultation with member countries.

1. Forestry has formally been part of the Commission's work from the onset, and forest genetic resources are explicitly mentioned in the ''International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources'', which the Commission oversees.