COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY
Item 9 of the Provisional Agenda
Rome, Italy, 10-13 March 1997
REVIEW OF FAO'S REGULAR AND FIELD
1. This Secretariat Note presents on a selective basis major achievements under the Forestry Programme to facilitate the task of the Committee in advising the Council on progress made in implementation, including eventual problems encountered during this process. The document covers both the main achievements and priority areas under the Regular Programme and activities of the field programme. Annex A provides references to specific requests and recommendations of the twelfth session of the Committee.
2. There were a number of special circumstances in respect of programme implementation in the 1996-97 biennium. In the first instance, the Conference approved at its last session (October 1995) an overall budget level for the current biennium of US$ 650 million against the zero-growth proposals in the Programme of Work and Budget document totalling nearly US$ 707 million, entailing the need for identification of reductions worth US$ 57 million. Adjustments to the Programme of Work and Budget were considered and approved by the Programme and Finance Committees at their joint meeting in May 1996, as mandated by the Conference itself. The larger part of the required reductions was met by efficiency savings - not affecting the substance of the programme - and cuts under non-technical areas. Limited cuts also had to be made to technical and economic activities, but the forestry programme was protected to the maximum feasible degree.
3. Following the organizational measures approved by the Council at its hundred and sixth session (1994), five new sub-regional offices were established in Zimbabwe, Samoa, Barbados, Hungary and Tunisia, and technical teams in the Regional Offices were strengthened. At the time of writing, action is under way to fill the remaining vacant posts. Decentralization of operations staff has been effected as regards the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), whereas the other operations groups will be deployed in respective regions in a phased manner during 1997.
SELECTED ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE REGULAR PROGRAMME
4. The Programme of Work and Budget for 1996-97 concentrates on major priority areas, i.e. forest resources assessment, statistics and outlook studies, community forestry, capacity building, formulation and implementation of national forestry action programmes and FAO's task manager role in follow-up to UNCED, including support to IPF. Due to the above-mentioned overall reduction in the FAO budget approved by the Conference, the budget for Major Programme 2.4 Forestry could not be increased and the initial proposal was, in fact, subject to a programme reduction of 7.8 per cent mainly reflecting its share of the efficiency savings, as staff resources were fully protected.
5. International initiatives on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management were actively supported through promoting exchange of information, providing links between initiatives and furthering a common understanding of the issues at stake. This included co-sponsoring, with the Government of Finland, an inter-governmental seminar on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (August 1996) in support of the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Forests (IPF).
6. In collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), FAO organized two expert meetings on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (i) for dry-zone Africa (November 1995); and (ii) for the Near East (October 1996). Furthermore, an expert meeting and three implementation workshops are being organized within the framework of an FAO/TCP project, covering the seven countries of the Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo (CCAD) in Central America.
7. The incorporation of additional information on environmental and human resource aspects into future Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) was considered in several expert meetings held in preparation of FRA 2000. These included the FAO expert consultation on global FRA 2000 (Kotka, Finland, June 1996) which reviewed methodologies, data content and core definitions, and agreed on a global framework for FRA 2000. Issues related to biological diversity were additionally reviewed inter alia in a recent country capacity building exercise in south-east Asia.
8. Following such meetings and detailed planning a preliminary decision was made on qualitative and environmental variables to be included in FRA 2000 (see Secretariat Note COFO-97/2).
9. An important contribution to the understanding of the processes of vegetation degradation and deforestation, as well as the direction of land cover change, was made through the publication of FAO Forestry Paper 130, Survey of tropical forest cover and study of change processes - Based on multi-date high resolution satellite data (FAO 1996).
10. The ninth session of the FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Genetic Resources was held in October 1995 (see Secretariat Note COFO-97/5). FAO collaborated in the holding of three sub-regional workshops on forest genetic resources (boreal zone, temperate North America, Europe), and provided inputs to the preparatory process of the fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources and the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
11. The programme collaborated with national institutes in the collection, exchange and testing of provenance seedlots of neem species; and the initiation of networking activities for mahogany genetic resources in the neotropics. Technical guides were elaborated for field use on the in situ and ex situ conservation of forest genetic resources, in collaboration with national and international institutes active in these fields. Development of a database and information system on country-derived information on forest genetic resources was initiated. In the Near East region, an expert consultation on biodiversity (Cairo, Egypt, October 1995) was organized in cooperation with other institutions.
12. In watershed management and sustainable mountain development, support was given to the implementation of UNCED Agenda 21 Chapter 13: Sustainable mountain development, for which the Organization is the task manager. As a whole the programme of international and regional meetings on the mountain agenda was implemented as planned except for the North American region; a number of sub-regional and national initiatives, especially from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), were also supported.
13. Important related meetings have been held, most of them in relation to Chapter 13 of UNCED; these include the twentieth session of the EFC Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds (Lillehammer, Norway, July 1996); the African inter-governmental consultation on follow-up to UNCED Agenda 21 Chapter 13 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 1996); the two sessions of the European inter-governmental consultation on sustainable mountain development (Aviemore, Scotland, April 1996, and Trento, Italy, October 1996); meetings of the ad hoc inter-agency working group were also held to monitor progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 Chapter 13 taking the opportunity of the European inter-governmental meetings. Support was also provided to international networking on mountain issues through an electronic conference convened by the Mountain Forum on "Paying for Mountains: Innovative mechanisms and promising examples for financing conservation and sustainable development". Results have been incorporated in a more comprehensive document Principles and best practices for sustainable mountain development planning.
14. In arid zone forestry and desertification control, publications were issued on the role of acacia in the rural economy in Africa and the Near East and on the use of fire as a management tool in subsaharan Africa. Implementation of the Mediterranean Forestry Action Programme has started with the support of the Governments of France and Italy to assist countries to formulate or update their national forest policy or programmes. Support was provided to IPF through regular reporting on its Programme element I.4. "Afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded forest eco-systems in countries facing drought and/or desertification" and servicing of related country initiatives such as the Cape Verde/Portugal/Senegal-sponsored expert consultation on the subject.
15. Under wildlife and protected area management, preparation started for the holding of an international technical consultation on conservation and sustainable rural development. In the Latin American/Caribbean region a number of activities were carried out within the framework of an FAO/UNEP project concerned with conservation of biological diversity in protected areas and a project concerned with planning and management of protected areas in the Amazon. A series of technical workshops and training courses on planning and management of protected areas in the Amazon was carried out. The first Latin American Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas, organized by FAO and the Latin American Technical Cooperation Network on National Parks and Protected Areas, will be held in Colombia in 1997.
16. The Global Fibre Supply Study (GFSS) with an outlook up to 2010 was initiated and is expected to be completed by the end of 1997. The information provided in the study will serve as a policy instrument for use by governments, industry, NGOs and academia. In addition, it will stimulate a process to improve data collection and analysis in the field of potential raw material supply by the forest services of member governments.
17. In relation to collaboration with the private forest industry sector, the hundred and eleventh session of the FAO Council (October 1996) adopted a resolution to broaden the mandate of the Advisory Committee on Pulp and Paper to include wood-based panels and sawn timber, in addition to pulp and paper. The Committee's title has been changed to Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP) and its membership extended to not more than 26 leading experts. It will hold its first meeting in April 1997.
18. Technical information and statistical data on non-wood forest products (NWFPs) was gathered, analyzed and disseminated in order to assist countries to improve their forest utilization practices and forest policies. Activities included the analysis of the contribution of NWFPs to provide better income and employment opportunities at local and national levels; the assessment of the relationship between NWFPs and non-destructive forest harvesting; and the impact of sustainable NWFP utilization on forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
19. Information exchange on NWFPs has been improved through the recently-created NWFP series. Eleven reports have been published so far, six of which deal with the compilation of data on key NWFPs, such as flavours, naval stores, colorants, edible nuts, gums, and tropical palms. Efforts have been stepped up to build partnerships with other governmental organizations (GOs) and NGOs, including strengthening regional NWFP networks and newsletters. Important NWFP development issues were covered by the following reports in the same series, namely, NWFPs for rural income and sustainable forestry; Report of the international expert consultation on NWFPs; Trade restrictions affecting international trade in NWFPs; Domestication of NWFPs, and Medicinal Plants.
20. Wood energy activities focused on the preparation of regional studies entitled Wood energy today for tomorrow (WETT) for Asia, Latin America, Africa and OECD countries, with the active collaboration of IEA, EU, ECE, regional energy organizations and field projects. These studies aim at: assessing the consumption of fuelwood and charcoal by different categories of users (households, industrial, commercial and public) in different developed and developing countries; analyzing national wood energy situations; and describing the interrelations between forestry, energy and other socio-economic sectors.
21. Considering the high demand for wood energy experts in both developing and developed countries, the preparation of a wood energy textbook for university students was initiated (in close collaboration with the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean). A seminar on dendroenergy for participants from different Central American countries was held in Managua, Nicaragua (April 1996), organized within the framework of the Latin America Technical Cooperation Network on Dendroenergy. Wood energy demand studies have also been initiated in the Africa region.
22. Within harvesting and engineering, FAO has produced a model code of forest harvesting practice, undertaken a number of research-oriented case studies on best forest practices, and organized three international meetings on improved forest utilization with the aim of strengthening capacity building and transfer of knowledge to enhance the conservation and wise utilization of the forest resource base.
23. In the Asia-Pacific region, support has been provided for the ad hoc working group on sustainable forest management established by the sixteenth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission with the priority activity of developing a regional code of forest harvesting.
24. Trade activities focused on the analysis of trade trends, assessment of the relationship between trade and environment and trade issues connected with the use of certification and labelling of forest products. Two reports were published on the likely impact of the GATT Uruguay Round (Trade barriers affecting non-wood forest products, and Impact of the Uruguay Round on international trade in forest products). Data were updated on tariff and non-tariff barriers faced by forest products, and various inputs, including the preparation of papers, were provided to a number of meetings, expert working groups and international conferences, including some related to IPF.
Forest policy and planning
25. Under policies for sustainable forest development, a regional survey of forest policies is being conducted in Latin America. It complements those already done for Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The first group of countries under study include the five Central American countries and Panama. The activity is being carried out in partnership with the Central American Council on Forests and Protected Areas and other international organisations (UNDP, IICA, IUCN, GTZ, FINNIDA, WRI). The results of this study will be used for the identification of external factors affecting forestry, improving national accounting of the forestry sector and for promoting the updating of policies and the adoption of new processes for policy formulation and implementation. The Review of forestry policies in selected countries of Africa is being issued and widely distributed.
26. Under forestry institutions, a reference document on designing and administering contractual and institutional arrangements, between the government and communities, local organizations and private national and international entrepreneurs, covering operations to be carried out by them in forests on public lands will be completed in 1997. An assessment of the institutional and technological transference capacity for promoting sustainable development in five Amazonian countries was completed and an expert consultation was held in preparation for a mid-term strategic orientation (1998-2003). An action plan for the Commissions on Environment and on Technology Transference of the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty will be held in 1997. Budgetary constraints resulted in the cancellation of an expert consultation on contractual arrangements for the use of public forests and the planned analysis of investment mechanisms for forestry development.
27. Under forestry extension, material on new approaches to forestry extension, including a Trouble shooter's guide to forestry extension, was produced, as well as a review on forestry extension in countries in transition. A number of cooperative initiatives including workshops to review extension methodologies and trends in extension in Africa and countries in transition are under formulation.
28. In forestry research support continued to be given to networking in the Asia-Pacific region with the Forestry Research Support in Asia Pacific project (FORSPA) and the newly-established Asia-Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions (APAFRI); similar arrangements are being worked out for Africa and Latin America.
29. Extensive support was provided to UNCED follow-up as task manager for Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and to IPF. This support included the secondment of a senior staff member to the IPF secretariat in New York (partially funded by Denmark), participation in IPF meetings and in meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force and authorship of four of the IPF secretariat papers. Extensive contribution has also been made in a number of subject areas, including support to the discussion and meetings surrounding the identification of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest development, reviews of trade, forest resource assessment and policy issues among others. While this activity could not be specifically planned in the Programme of Work and Budget for 1996-97, FAO contributed significantly to the work of IPF.
30. Under analytical studies, three main outputs will have been completed: the State of the world's forests will be published in 1997; a report Asia-Pacific forestry - towards 2010 on the regional outlook study, which was implemented under the aegis of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, will be ready for discussion by this Commission early in 1998. This constitutes a concrete example of a more active role of such Commissions in undertaking activities of common interest. A new set of global projections for forest products consumption, supply and trade to 2010 is being released in provisional form in late 1996 and definitively in 1997.
31. Resource limitations caused postponement of the planned regional yearbook statistics publication. Unless extra-budgetary resources are secured, planned training workshops may have to be postponed indefinitely.
32. Under forestry sector development planning, guidelines for integrating sustainability, participatory and environmental considerations into forestry sector planning were issued in 1996 for field testing. A draft review of forestry in national income accounts accompanied by guidelines for carrying out forestry income accounting will be issued for field testing in 1997. An FAO André Mayer Fellowship report on valuation of forests (with focus on the investment preparation context) prepared in 1996 will be issued in 1997.
33. As regards work on participatory activities and equity issues, the development of methodologies to analyze the socio-economic aspects of community-based management of forest resources continued. Publications on participatory planning and management are integrated into a comprehensive set of materials including a conceptual framework with separate modules focusing on the methods, tools and development of the participatory process. The materials are developed in close collaboration with field projects. Under the current schedule the conceptual framework will be completed by the end of 1997 with the modules completed during the following year.
34. A major electronic conference on addressing natural resource conflicts through community forestry was organized during the period January to May 1996, with more than 460 participants from 56 countries. This was the first e-mail conference of its kind and scope organized by FAO. Publications concerning the e-mail conference include the Proceedings and a monograph on lessons learned from organizing an e-mail conference. As an outcome and further development of the theme for the conference, a publication Alternative conflict management in community forestry will be produced in 1997 in the Community Forestry Notes series. A satellite session on conflict management is currently scheduled for the World Forestry Congress in 1997.
35. Normative activities in community forestry have benefited from multi-donor funding provided by Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands for the Forests, Trees and People Programme. The strong support by the trust fund has enabled considerable expansion of the development of knowledge and the distribution of materials focusing on participatory approaches, methods and tools needed for communities to be involved in and benefit from forestry activities.
36. The National Forests Action Programme (NFAP) was strengthened through the decentralization of the NFAP regional advisors to Bangkok, Accra and Santiago. A Mediterranean Forestry Action Programme was promoted for Mediterranean, Near East and North African countries; its implementation is being supported by trust funds from Italy and France. The dissemination of information on national forestry planning through publications such as NFAP Updates and NFAP technical notes, as well as the further development of the regional NFAP Documentation Centres, continue to contribute to the outreach of this programme. Support continues to be provided to 91 countries involved in NFAP processes.
37. The forestry journal Unasylva continues to be published on a regular quarterly basis.
FORESTRY FIELD PROGRAMME
38. This section covers developments during the 1994-95 biennium and the first six months of 1996. Delivery figures for 1996 are projected on the basis of data available as of 30 November 1996.
Overall thrust and level
39. The forestry field programme contributes to strengthening country capacities for the sustainable management and conservation of forest resources, with the aim of supporting agriculture, optimizing land use, promoting economic development and protecting the environment. Close links are maintained with the Regular Programme.
40. In the last biennium, a major structural reorganization took place, including the establishment of the Technical Cooperation Department (TCD) to serve as the hub of operational activities, covering policy advisory services, investments, the mobilization of extra-budgetary resources, the implementation of field operations and cooperation with multilateral/bilateral agencies, the private sector and NGOs. The Forestry Operations Service (FODO), formerly in the Forestry Department, is now a specialized unit (TCO5) in the Field Operations Division (TCO). This division has begun a decentralization process, transferring its staff and activities to Regional Offices, which is expected to be completed during 1997.
41. A major change also occurred with respect to the funding for the forestry field programme. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) new successor support costs arrangements were put into effect and national execution became the preferred way of implementing field projects and programmes. These factors significantly reduced the number and overall budget of forest projects executed by FAO in some regions. An important increase in the funding by donors through the Government Cooperation Programme (GCP), mainly by the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, EC, Finland and France, could not offset the downtrend in UNDP funding. Other multilateral donors such as GEF, UNO/NSO, and also the recipient countries themselves by means of UTFs, have made important contributions.
42. The most important subject matters have been community forestry, conservation and management of forests and natural resources, policy and planning mainly through NFAP exercises. The field programme naturally responds to recipient countries' priorities and donor preferences, which seldom include other areas such as statistics, forest engineering and harvesting, wood industries and wood products.
43. Strong emphasis has been placed on the strengthening of national capabilities through training, although institutional building as a concept may have lost some of its previous importance because of the diminishing role of governments and state institutions in forest administrations of many countries which are implementing structural adjustment processes.
44. A summary of the current situation of the forestry field programme on a regional basis is presented below.
45. In spite of firm national commitments to UNCED resolutions and NFAP undertaken in 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, support from the donor community to forest conservation programmes in Africa has been disappointingly low. The field programme in Africa has been steadily decreasing over the years, as shown below. Funding is mainly provided through three sources: Trust Funds (70 per cent); UNDP (18 per cent); and the Regular Programme TCP (12 per cent).
Forestry projects delivery in Africa (in US$ million)
46. Forestry programmes in Africa cover six main areas of concentration, i.e. community forestry, participatory forest management; desertification control; watershed management; land use/village forestry; wood products utilization.
47. Coverage of the various countries is very uneven. In West Africa, for example, 33 per cent of the field programme in Africa is concentrated in one country. In eastern and southern Africa, the forestry field programme is also unevenly distributed. The ongoing regional Global Environment Fund (GEF) project on East African biodiversity covers Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The Forest Industries Training Centre (SADC project), based in Zimbabwe, covers the 12 members of SADC. Both have achieved considerable results and are about to reach completion at the end of 1996. Expectations are high for a follow-up GEF phase.
48. High deforestation and land degradation rates are currently the major problems in the region. Consensus and agreement developed out of the UNCED process have already reached the high levels of policy and decision-makers, but the building of national capacities and the flow of substantial funds are still priority needs.
49. Funding for the forestry field programme has increased steadily in the last biennium in spite of the decrease in UNDP-funded projects, because of the growing support of donor countries through GCP, as indicated below. (The lower figure for 1996 does not reflect the availability of funds, which remains over US$ 20 million, but a lower expected delivery rate for this year).
Forestry projects delivery in Asia-Pacific (in US$ million)
50. UNDP-funded projects correspond to national priorities and UNDP's own preferred areas in the fields of natural resources management, human development and poverty alleviation. Additional areas identified are trade and investment, increasing the role of women, and science and technology.
51. TF-funded projects have increased in number and size. A sizable part of these is unilateral trust funds, executing technical assistance components of bank loans or using government's own budgetary resources.
52. Nine regional forestry projects have served 14 countries of the region in 1995-96, providing advisory services, training, information, technology transfer and also performing demonstration activities. Twenty-one countries have undertaken NFAP/Master Plan exercises, which mobilized US$ 2 100 million by way of commitments from donors and banks.
53. Recent trends in subject matter areas are:
54. Implementation of the projects has increasingly relied on regional and national experts, further strengthening national execution capacities by means of more intensive training components. In general, evaluations have confirmed the validity of project design, but there is still room for improvement in project preparation at field level, accompanied by a more rigorous project appraisal.
Latin America and the Caribbean
55. Structural changes in the state forestry administrations continued to take place in the region during the biennium. Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and most of Central America are examples of these changes, which have reduced the extent of state intervention in forest activities. These governmental roles and activities have not yet been fully balanced by the increasing importance of private enterprise and other NGOs.
56. More intensive dialogue and closer coordination between countries have developed at sub-regional level by existing mechanisms, such as the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD), through its executive body, the Central American Council on Forests and Protected Areas (CCAB-AP), and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, through its pro-tempore Secretariat.
57. The forestry field programme supported these sub-regional initiatives, assisting the definition of sustainable forest management criteria and indicators (two projects), promoting a consensus on methodology for ecological-economical zoning (one project), developing alternatives for sustainable use of native forests with peasant participation (nine projects) and NFAP (one regional and three national projects). Forest concessions, industrial plantations, watershed management and wood energy were the subject of individual projects in five countries. A strong tendency for national implementation was noted, and several projects are now managed by national experts and consultants, maximizing the utilization of the technical and professional capabilities of each country.
58. Despite the UNCED recommendations and the further advancement of NFAP exercises, there has been no significant increase either in investment and technical assistance for forestry development and conservation in the region, or in national or international commitments.
59. The forestry field programme surpassed the level of the previous biennium because of the boosting of funding from the Netherlands, while resources from other donors, as well as UNDP funds, have dropped.
Forestry projects delivery in Latin America and the Caribbean (in US$ million)
60. The region continues to face an alarming depletion of its natural resources and degradation of its forests and vegetation cover, coupled with growing food needs for the rapidly increasing population.
61. The forestry field programme addresses issues of high priority in five main areas: (i) development and management of forest resources, (ii) integrated development and watershed rehabilitation, (iii) food security, (iv) desertification control, and (v) institutional strengthening and capacity building. At present, 20 projects are being implemented in 13 countries.
62. In the biennium, the programme has undergone major adjustments, reorientation and streamlining, aiming to:
63. The forestry field programme for the Near East has remained at approximately the same levels over the last four years, as shown in the table below.
Forestry projects delivery in Near East (in US$ million)
64. Ten inter-regional projects are currently being implemented, addressing issues of global importance in four main areas:
65. Because of the global scope and nature of the subject matters addressed, FAO comparative advantages and the close linkage between field and regular programmes are more evident and fully utilized in these projects. Delivery improved significantly in 1996, following the abnormally low level realized in 1995.
Inter-regional projects delivery (in US$ million)
FOLLOW-UP TO THE REQUESTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE
TWELFTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE