COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY
Item 10 of the Provisional Agenda
Rome, Italy, 10-13 March 1997
MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY (1998-2003) AND
PRIORITIES FOR THE
1. The purpose of this document is to present proposed priorities for Major Programme 2.4 Forestry in the 1998-99 biennium, in the context of a medium-term strategy for the six-year period 1998-2003. The programme of work in forestry will continue to be guided by the assessment of prospects and problems made by the Forestry Department on the basis of decisions and recommendations of the Organization's statutory bodies. Particular attention is given to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the Plan of Action adopted by the World Food Summit (WFS) held in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1996, as well as to conclusions reached in other fora on forestry matters, especially the Inter-governmental Panel on Forests (IPF).
2. How to conserve the world's forests, while also using trees and forests to contribute to the economic, social and environmental well-being of the world's rapidly expanding population, is one of the most important, complex and controversial issues of modern times. Increases in population and incomes are placing ever growing demands on forest resources for goods and services.
3. In 1995 the world population was 5.7 billion people. It is likely to reach 7.0 billion by 2010, with 96 per cent of the 1.3 billion increment being in developing countries. FAO's Forest Resources Assessment estimated the total forest cover in 1995 at 3.44 billion ha, while deforestation between 1980 and 1995 amounted to 200 million ha, compensated by only 20 million ha of forest plantations. Deforestation is likely to continue for some time and, according to the FAO study Agriculture: towards 2010, another 85 million ha may be cleared for agriculture alone by that year.
4. While forests shrink in size, the demands on them to produce products for human consumption are rising. Demand for total roundwood and industrial wood is expected to grow at 1.1 per cent and 1.2 per cent per annum, respectively. Similarly, the demand for fuelwood and non-wood products, including wild foods and medicines, and for associated rural employment, will increase.
5. Increasing demands are also being placed on forests for environmental services. There is greater insistence, for example, to protect the roles of forests in absorption of atmospheric carbon, conservation of biological diversity, soil and water conservation, recreation, and as a home for indigenous people.
6. A number of international conferences have called upon the world community to develop appropriate responses to the many pressures placed on the world's forests. In particular, the UNCED Forest Principles and Agenda 21 call for the implementation of sustainable forest management as the primary means of reducing deforestation and forest degradation and of contributing to the economic, social and environmental well-being of the world's people. Similarly, the Cairo Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Conference on Women stressed the importance of incorporating population aspects and gender issues into forest conservation and development programmes.
7. In preparation for WFS, FAO analyzed the food security situation in the world and called attention to the alarming fact that some 840 million people - one-fifth of the population of the developing world - are without adequate access to food, even though average availability of food had improved since 1970. The target set in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security adopted by WFS is to "reduce the number of undernourished people by half their present level not later than 2015". The WFS Plan of Action called on forestry to contribute to improving food security under its seven commitments (see document COFO-97/4). Forests and forestry are thus expected to contribute to the fundamental goal of "food for all", while also fulfilling other functions related to sustainable development and human well-being.
8. Bringing the world's forests under sustainable management and utilization in ways which are consistent with and responsive to the international commitments adopted at WFS and the other conferences mentioned above will remain a high priority on international and national agenda for forestry. This is a daunting task which requires a consensus on the balance between the environmental and developmental roles of forests in specific situations as well as adequate human and institutional capacities and financial resources. It requires that existing forests be managed effectively, additional ones created and the developmental and environmental roles of all forests appropriately combined. The magnitude of the tasks and the complexity of the challenge at local, regional, national and international levels justifies a sense of urgency and a lasting commitment by all groups, governments, the private sector and inter-governmental (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
9. In this context the economic dimension is critical to ensure lasting benefits and sustained efforts. In a world characterised by increased globalization and competition for limited funds there is a need for systematic efforts to raise the economic value of forests and to capture the non-market values in financial terms. The long-term sustainability of forests and of their socio-economic contribution to development will ultimately depend on the validity of their management and utilization as a land use and investment option.
10. The proposed medium-term strategy and priorities for 1998-99 is predicated on FAO's ability to address in a comprehensive and integrated manner the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable forest management on a global scale. This builds on the Organization's world-wide function in data collection, analysis and dissemination; its role as a neutral forum for policy and technical dialogue; and its ability to attract investment and act as an "honest broker" for the transfer of technology. It also recognizes the Organizations's large body of interdisciplinary professional expertise, broad global membership, institutional fabric of regional commissions and advisory bodies, and its ability to conduct both normative and operational programmes.
11. The forestry major programme is geared towards the ultimate mission of enhancing the contribution of trees and forests to human well-being. "Human well-being" refers to all aspects of environmental, economic and social development, including poverty alleviation and food security.
12. Three principal medium-term objectives are proposed, all equally important and to be simultaneously pursued:
13. In pursuing the above objectives, FAO needs to implement a comprehensive, interdisciplinary programme that allows it to address the range of technical issues that link the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable forest management. The ability to address these issues on a global scale and in an integrated manner is perhaps the most important feature of the FAO forestry programme. In addition, maintenance of a comprehensive programme allows the Organization to respond to a variety of needs and gives it the flexibility to build new areas of emphasis as future opportunities arise.
14. In addition, the following general considerations will guide the development of both regular programme and field activities:
15. The proposed strategy and broad priorities for 1998-99 are contained in the following sections under the headings "forest resources", "forest products" and "forest policy and planning", corresponding to the three programmes under forestry. Special priority will be given to global forest resource assessment, statistics and strategic outlook studies, community forestry, use of national forestry programmes in capacity building, support to CSD and FAO's task manager responsibilities, forestry's role in follow-up to WFS, and strengthening the FAO regional forestry commissions.
16. Assessment and monitoring of forest resources will remain a high priority. In addition to reporting on changes in forest cover, the scope will be gradually broadened to include more information on other quantitative and qualitative parameters of forests globally. Forest resources information will increasingly be used in FAO's outlook work alongside demand projections for forest products and services. There will also be increased interpretive work on the implications of the changing forest resources situation for policy and action. Advanced technologies will be used to the extent feasible, and partnerships with other organizations which can help will be expanded. The aim will be to reduce the periodicity of global forest assessment from 10 to five years. Subregional lead centres will play increased roles, and country capacities to generate the necessary information on their own forest resources will be strengthened.
17. Emphasis in the management of forests and forest lands will be on facilitating the development and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management at national, regional and forest management unit levels, and on the formulation and execution of operational forest management plans. Special attention will be given to the sustainable management of plantations in humid and dry tropical zones. Much of the work will be carried out by promoting information exchange at subregional and regional levels, through support to pilot activities, and by technical assistance to national institutes.
18. Establishment of forest plantations, particularly of multi-purpose trees, will be promoted where they can reduce the pressure on natural forests to produce timber, fuelwood and other products and contribute to food security. Technical support will be given on tree species selection, planting and management to community and small-scale programmes. Expanded efforts will be made to collect statistical data on forest plantations in support of Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) and wood supply studies, and to review the environmental impacts of forest plantations.
19. Work in forest protection will emphasize the promotion of regional and subregional cooperation (especially through TCDC) in integrated pest and disease management, the development and maintenance of global data bases on forest fires and forest dieback, and serving as a clearing-house of scientifically-proven information on the relationships between forest/forestry and climate change.
20. In relation to forest genetic resources, a key aspect will be the development and implementation of a global plan of action that supports country-driven efforts to conserve, manage and sustainably utilize forest genetic diversity. A global information system on forest genetic resources will be maintained. Support will continue in the conservation, management and exchange of gene resources, with emphasis on networking and twinning among institutions. Promotion of new technologies, including the use of biotechnology in forest tree breeding, will be pursued.
21. As a follow-up to WFS, work will be undertaken to sharpen knowledge of agroforestry systems, their tree components, and their contribution to income generation and food security. Special consideration will be given to agroforestry systems in dry areas and mountain ecosystems and to their role in conserving tree cover in fallow/cropland mosaics. Work will continue on urban forestry and the interface between human settlements and natural or man-made forests.
22. In mountain economy systems, emphasis will be on mobilizing support for the implementation of Agenda 21, Chapter 13, on sustainable mountain development, consistent with FAO's "task manager" role. The programme will focus on the role of forests and trees in diversified and sustainable mountain economy systems and on support to regional and subregional networks existing in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean and to be developed in Africa. Efforts will also include the maintenance of an information bank on the role of mountains and forested ecosystems in water conservation, particularly in support of agricultural production.
23. In wildlife and protected area management focus will be on support to the implementation of international agreements related to conservation of species and biological diversity, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and on the dissemination of methodologies for improved management of protected areas and wildlife. In the Asia-Pacific region, particular emphasis will be given to improved management of protected areas with attention to conservation as well as income generation through eco-tourism.
24. In arid zone forestry and desertification control, emphasis will be on assisting countries in implementing the Convention on Desertification, on the use of indigenous multipurpose tree species/genera in farming systems, and on the rehabilitation of fragile or degraded ecosystems.
25. Work on appropriate wood industries will focus on technology transfer for improved resource utilization with the aim of deriving a higher economic value from available raw materials. Special attention will be given to small- and medium-scale industries in developing countries and to utilization technologies for small diameter logs from industrial or community forest plantations. The process of updating information on the availability of fibre supply for the wood and paper industry will be maintained, as a complement to the FAO Forest Resources Assessment and to outlook studies for the forest sector.
26. FAO should aim at becoming a "centre of excellence" on non-wood forest products (NWFPs). Emphasis will be on development of global and regional statistical information on the production and trade of NWFPs and on strengthening partnerships with other agencies for the collection, analysis and dissemination of such information. Assistance will be provided to countries to develop policies for sustainable development of NWFPs.
27. Wood energy activities will promote the use of sustainable wood energy systems as a component to food security. Attention will be placed on assessing wood fuel flows in high and critical consumption areas of developing countries; assessing alternative energy solutions that reduce the depletion of existing resources; promotion and dissemination of methodological tools and the establishment of national and regional wood energy information systems.
28. Work on forest products trade will focus on its role in enhancing the value of forests in an environmentally sound manner. Special attention will be given to the impact on trade of policies directed at environmental improvement, especially the question of whether these policies act as trade barriers, and the promotion of policies that ensure that trade and the environment are mutually supportive. The aspects of certification and eco-labelling will continue to be monitored and analyzed.
29. In the area of forest products marketing, emphasis will be given to increasing awareness of the importance of marketing to forest value, improving access to marketing information and strengthening human and institutional capacities in forest products marketing.
30. In the area of forest engineering and harvesting, the main focus will continue to be on the promotion of efficient forest utilization systems which meet socio-economic and environmental needs, involve local populations and provide employment and income. Particular attention will be given to the collection and distribution of information, the exchange of experience and the enhancement of new forest engineering and harvesting techniques and systems.
Forest policy and planning
31. The thrust of work in forest policy will be towards increasing national capacities for policy analysis and adaptation, securing people's participation in forest policy formulation and implementation, promoting the forestry sector to a higher position in the political agenda of member countries, and stimulating international dialogue on forest policy. Advice will continue to be provided to countries on policy developments, particularly on the basis of comparative studies of policy changes, and on problems arising from the processes of economic liberalization.
32. In relation to strengthening forestry institutions and human resources and capacity building, emphasis will be on assisting countries in improving the effectiveness of government institutions, the private sector and rural organizations as their respective roles change. This will include the identification of major causes of low institutional performance and the development of more effective mechanisms to improve it. Work on extension will focus on dissemination of new concepts and institutional approaches and the development of pedagogic aids on environmental and forestry subjects for primary and secondary school teachers. Strengthening national forest research capabilities will be pursued through the development and support of regional networks, in collaboration with other international organizations and by promoting better use of research information systems. Increasing attention will be given to the application of science and research in the design and execution of sustainable forest management programmes and in policy decision-making.
33. FAO will promote national forest programmes (NFPs) as an appropriate framework for planning forest sector activities and policy formulation as well as their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Emphasis will be on assisting countries secure international support to implement NFPs; provision of technical assistance through advisers, workshops, training courses and networking, dissemination of information on NFP ongoing processes and on continued adaptation of the NFP concept to evolving contexts.
34. Strategic sector analysis and outlook studies will continue to be a high priority, serving as fundamental input to policy and planning needs for the forestry sector and for the formulation of NFPs and their integration into national development plans. Special attention will be given to improve the coverage and quality of forestry statistics and their analysis and interpretation with forest resources and commodity data being used in an integrated manner and placed in broader development context through the WAICENT system. Analytical studies of the outlook for supply and demand of forest products and services will continue and include regional and thematic reviews of the sector. The results from forest resources assessments will be analyzed to identify their implications for policy, strategy and options for action. The State of the world's forests will be issued biennially.
35. Consistent with the 1995 evaluation, the medium-term emphasis in community forestry development will be on the development of participatory approaches to improve people's food security and the sustainability of their livelihoods through locally-based natural resource management, and on promoting the use and institutionalization of these approaches at all levels. A key factor in the development of community forestry activities will be their relevance to vulnerable groups. The small-scale household management of woodlots and trees will be addressed as a strategical approach which complements communal management. The extra-budgetarily funded Forests, Trees and People Programme and its inter-regional network will continue to support Regular Programme activities. Increased attention will be given to countries with economies in transition concerning the status and development of community-based management of forestry resources.
PRIORITIES FOR 1998-99
36. Proposed priorities for 1998-99 stem from the medium-term strategy presented above and are in accordance with the priorities identified by the twelfth session of the Committee. The Committee indicated the following as specific areas of priority importance: the Global Forest Resources Assessment, technical information needed by countries to implement UNCED commitments and develop criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, the community forestry programme, strategic planning and policy formulation, national forest action plans (NFAPs) as a vehicle for capacity building and planning, inter-sectoral land use planning, and enhancing the value of forest products (cf. COFO-95/REP para. 29).
37. The detailed work programme under Major Programme 2.4 - Forestry will be progressively developed in the course of the preparation of the Programme of Work and Budget 1998-99. Preliminary indication of priorities and key activities is given below.
38. Through the high-priority Forest Resources Assessment (FRA), the global assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) will be finalized. It will include a broadened scientific and statistical database in order to understand better the ecological, economic, cultural and social functions performed by all types of forests. FRA 2000 will pursue increased cooperation from member countries, as well as more partnership arrangements with collaborating organizations and institutes. Support will be provided for country capacity building.
39. FAO will continue to analyze information and serve as an international forum for dialogue on experiences and issues on sustainable forest management at national and forest management unit levels, promote compatibility of action in line with international initiatives on criteria and indicators, and help streamline related concepts and terminology. Assistance will be provided to countries on the implementation of sustainable forest management through publication of technical handbooks on methodologies appropriate for certain ecosystems, such as mountain forests.
40. In forest protection emphasis will be on mobilizing support to integrated pest management networks and on expanding the FAO/IPGRI guidelines on safe movement of forest tree germplasm (eucalypt, pine species) to include information on poplars and willows and, possibly, woody legumes.
41. Under conservation of forest genetic resources, the development of a global plan of action for forest genetic resources will be sought, through a series of eco-regional workshops, under the guidance of the FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources and consistent with the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (see Secretariat Note COFO-97/5). The information system and data base on forest genetic resources will be updated, and the annual news-bulletin Forest Genetic Resources will be distributed in hard copy and electronically. Support to national institutions will stress regional networking. Special attention will be paid to multipurpose woody species in arid and semi-arid zones, and to socio-economically important humid tropical species, including mahoganies. The mahogany network established for the neotropics in 1996-97 will be gradually expanded to other tropical regions of the world.
42. In plantation development, efforts will continue to collect, analyze and disseminate information on plantation areas and yields. Attention will also be given to developing guidelines on the application of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest plantation management, in collaboration with ITTO and other international partners concerned. The potential for the irrigation of tree plantations with recycled and other low quality water will be analyzed through case studies.
43. Work in agroforestry and land use, including urban and peri-urban forestry, will cover the analysis of agroforestry systems, their functioning, productivity and economic value, and the potential for their dissemination and adoption. Efforts will be made to develop methodologies for assessing tree cover in agroforestry systems and for quantifying the production of wood from outside forest lands, specifically from agroforestry systems. Studies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, will be conducted on natural regeneration of forest fallow and similar systems.
44. Work in arid zone forestry and desertification control will be on improving the conservation, management and sustainable use of natural forest ecosystems; promoting technologies and disseminating information on dryland tree and shrub species and their use in reforestation, afforestation and soil conservation, land rehabilitation, fuel and fodder production and agroforestry systems; and providing advice and support to the implementation of UNCED Chapter 12 and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
45. In watershed management and sustainable mountain development, emphasis will be on the implementation of Agenda 21, Chapter 13, "Sustainable mountain development". With the objective of contributing to food security and integrated mountain development, support will be mobilized for regional networks and groups, especially in Africa and Latin America; documenting livelihood systems in mountain ecosystems with special reference to employment and income generation; and preparing and holding an international expert consultation on sustainable mountain development.
46. Main activities in wildlife and protected area management will be the convening of an international expert consultation on conservation and sustainable rural development; documenting technologies relating to husbandry of wild animals for food and income; promoting integration of conservation and sustainable rural development especially in buffer zones; updating publications on protected area management, including the promotion of eco-tourism; and facilitating information exchange on wildlife and protected area management, especially in developing countries. In the Latin America region, assistance will be sought to support the work of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty.
47. Under forest industry the Global Fibre Supply Study will be published, and a process to continually improve and update such information will be initiated. The newly expanded Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products will serve as a means of improving collaboration with industry representatives, especially from associations in developing countries and countries in transition. Work will also focus on technology transfer to the small- and medium-scale industry on small diameter log processing techniques and technologies for higher product yield from raw material.
48. Work on non-wood forest products (NWFPs) will stress the value of such products for food security and rural development. Statistics on key NWFPs will be compiled and disseminated, and regional surveys will be conducted. New partnerships will continue to be built and attention will be given to enhancing regional networks on NWFPs.
49. Wood energy activities will include the enhancement of wood energy information systems; serving as a reference centre on consumption, trade and production of woody biofuels; the continuation of networking activities to enhance south-south cooperation; the preparation and dissemination of methodological tools for planning sustainable wood energy systems in developing countries with special attention to arid and semi-arid areas and to local emergency situations; and the preparation of documents on technical and economic wood energy topics for training of forestry and energy experts.
50. In the trade area information on tariff and non-tariff restrictions affecting forest products trade will be collected and its significance analyzed. The effect of certification schemes on trade, and the use of trade policies as a means of achieving environmental goals, will be monitored and investigated.
51. Activities in forest products marketing will focus on case studies of current marketing practices for forest products, identification of sources for marketing information; preparation of guidelines on forest products marketing and for related training; and strengthening institutional capacities.
52. Activities in forest engineering will concentrate on the preparation of practical guidelines and audio-visual aids on road planning and surveying, aimed at promoting forest infrastructure development, improving road standards, minimizing impacts on the environment and reducing costs.
53. In forest harvesting and environment emphasis will be given to collecting and distributing information on environmentally sound forest harvesting practices and to assessing and minimizing environmental impacts of forest utilization. Special attention will be given to promoting the practical application of the FAO model code of forest harvesting practice.
Forest policy and planning
54. Forestry policy analysis will focus on completing the regional survey of forest policies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Technical methodologies and guidelines will be developed to assist governments and forestry institutions improve their capacity to analyze and assess forestry policy formulation and implementation. The interaction between policies in the forestry sector and those for related sectors, such as environment, energy and agriculture, will be reviewed and assessed. In the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions, studies will be conducted on the trends towards decentralization and devolution of forest management practices.
55. Emphasis in national forest programmes (NFPs) will be on monitoring implementation progress, continuous updating of country briefs, disseminating information widely, establishment of an interactive communication system on funding and sources of assistance, preparation of technical guidelines, organization of regional workshop and support to NFP implementation through networking and technical assistance.
56. Work on forestry institutions will concentrate on carrying out regional comparative studies to identify the political, economic and legal causes of low institutional efficiency and performance. Methodologies for organizational analysis and assessment of institutional performance at national level will be developed. Due consideration will be given to decentralization processes and to defining strategies for institutional changes. In the African region, analysis will be conducted on self-financing mechanisms. In the Asia-Pacific region, particular attention will be given to ways to evaluate large-scale forestry concession proposals.
57. Human resources development activities will continue to support countries on updating and reorienting forestry education curricula taking into account recent changes in the forestry profession. A database and directory of educational opportunities and institutions will be maintained. The programme will also promote the development and use of flexible extension methodologies and guidelines, tools for extensionists and end-users, and modern information systems. Special attention will be given to countries in transition, particularly in Europe, Africa and the Near East.
58. In forestry research, strengthening national forestry research institutions will be sought by promoting networking and collaboration among institutions. Special effort will be given to the establishment of a Forestry Research Network in Sub-Saharan Africa (FORNESSA) in cooperation with international organizations such as CIFOR, IUFRO and ICRAF, as well as exploring similar opportunities for regional cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Near East and North Africa. Attention will also be given to bringing the newest scientific concepts to bear on FAO's work in sustainable management of forest ecosystems and to strengthening scientific input into forestry policies and decision-making.
59. Forestry statistics and analytical studies will continue to be a priority area. Special attention will be given to improving the quality and coverage of forestry statistics. The yield and related coefficients currently applied to data will be updated, in particular for fuelwood consumption and for conversion into industrial products. FRA information on potential yield of gross biomass and of usable industrial raw material from both forest and scattered tree resources will be improved as will the estimation of economically accessible forest resources. These changes will make FRA a more effective basis for strategic outlook studies. The Yearbook of Forest Products will continue to be issued with greater emphasis on regional descriptions. In the Asia-Pacific region, activities will focus on follow-up to the Asia-Pacific outlook study.
60. In forest economics and sector planning, work will proceed with the analysis of the Latin America region. The experience of the Asia-Pacific study and of revising outlook projections has revealed a trend towards direct transformation of primary into value-added secondary forest products. It will increasingly be essential to collect data which facilitate monitoring of changes at this interface between primary and secondary forest industries and to also remain abreast of shifts in consumption among wood-based panels, and the competition and complementarity between forest products and other materials particularly in construction. Work on development of guidelines for better attention to forestry in national income accounts will be completed.
61. Community forestry development will continue to promote participatory approaches in locally-based natural resource management. Work on participatory methods and tools will be reoriented towards the development of a comprehensive package of methodologies covering the various aspects of the participatory process. The training package in gender analyses and forestry will be adapted for Latin America and francophone west Africa. Conflict management will be the subject of a series of publications and activities. Cooperation with Indiana University will continue on the development of a cost effective practical strategy for policy development and planning. As a complement to activities on communal forest management, household forest management will be developed as a thematic area with special focus on potential food and income benefits.
62. The Committee is invited to review and comment on the proposed strategic direction of the FAO forestry programmes and the specific priorities identified for 1998-99.