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The need to protect - and improve the management of - forest resources in the tropics and subtropics has found increasing expression in recent years. The value of these forests and their associated resources to the economies and welfare of developing nations, worldwide concern over desertification and alarm over the accelerated felling of the tropical moist forest have been central themes of:
1. international and national meetings (FAO Committee on Forest Development in the Tropics, Fourth Session, Rome, 1976; UNEP Conference on Desertification, Nairobi, 1977; Eighth World Forestry Congress, Jakarta, 1978; International MAB (Unesco)/International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Workshop on Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems, Jakarta, 1978, and earlier MAB/IUFRO Workshops; US Forest Service Conference on Improved Utilization of Tropical Forests, Madison, Wisc., 1978; US Strategy Conference on Tropical Deforestation, Washington, 1978; UNEP Experts Meeting on Tropical Forests, Nairobi, 1980);
2. comprehensive reports (Australian Unesco Committee for MAB, 1976; Unesco/UNEP/FAO, 1978);
3. policy papers (World Bank, 1978; IUCN/UNEP/WWF, 1980; US Interagency Task Force on Tropical Forests, 1980).
A sense of urgency is also added by the writings of individual experts on tropical forests (eg., Whitmore, 1975; Myers, 1979).
The UN agencies have been promoting the introduction of environmental planning, including impact assessment, by various means, depending on the mandate of the agency. FAO, as the specialized agency concerned with food and fibre production, has been advocating and assisting conservation and better management in forestry, agriculture and fisheries by means of publications (cf. Annex B), conferences, sponsorship and encouragement of research (cf. FAO/UNEP, 1975, in Annex B), inventories and monitoring of trends (cf. Unasylva, 1976, v. 28, No. 112-113; FAO/UNEP pilot project on Tropical forest inventory in West Africa, late 1970a; UNEP/FAO Earth Watch and Global Environment Monitoring System, GEMS), and policy statements (cf. annual reports on The State of Food and Agriculture, particularly for 1978; keynote address at the Eighth World Forestry Congress, 1978).
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has, similarly, promoted conservation in the developing world through conferences, publications, the establishment of data banks (INFOTERRA Environmental Information Retrieval System), and the encouragement of research. UNEP is in the process of developing guidelines for environmental impact assessment (cf. Ashford, 1979, UNEP, 1980). UNEP encourages funding agencies to use systematic environmental assessment of projects more widely, and as early as possible in the planning procedure (Ashford, 1979).
Whereas the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has so far confined itself primarily to the economic evaluation of projects (IIED, 1978), another economic agency of the UN, the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), has been active in environmental matters since 1975. In September 1979, the ECE held a seminar on environmental impact assessment in Austria, which was attended by countries that provide about 75 percent of the funds for cooperative development programmes. Some of these countries, notably the USA, Canada and Sweden, have highly developed domestic procedures for impact assessment, and it is inevitable that their requirements in this domain will be applied to the projects these countries fund abroad. At the 1979 seminar, the USA indeed raised the matter of impact assessment in international cooperation and development as a major issue.
Unesco, primarily through its Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, has sponsored many conferences, studies and publications dealing with tropical and other forests (cf. Annex B). Unesco, in collaboration with UNEP and FAO, recently published a landmark state-of-knowledge report on tropical forget ecosystems (Unesco/UNEP/FAO, 1978). Unesco has also sponsored international conventions aimed at conservation (cf. Myers, 1979).
Among the world-wide funding agencies, the World Bank appointed an Environmental Advisor responsible for the environmental review of all investment projects as early as 1970, at the same time that the US became the first country to introduce formal environmental impact assessment (EIA), The Bank has issued guidelines concerning "environmental, health and human ecologic considerations in economic development projects" (World Bank, 1974; 1975). The Bank is now (1981) preparing guidelines specifically designed for the assessment of impact of agricultural projects. The Bank's policy paper on forestry (World Bank, 1978) reflects a broad view of the forest resources in the developing countries, a view which includes the encouragement of environmental studies.
Among the regional cooperation agencies, the Organization of American States (OAS) has issued guidelines for incorporating environmental planning in river-basin development (OAS, 1978). Some of the methodology described by these OAS guidelines is relevant to forestry projects.
As noted above, individual donor countries have been or will be instrumental in introducing impact assessment to development planning. USAID is required by law to include EIA in major foreign development projects. In 1979, President Carter directed USAID to use EIA for the specific purpose of preserving natural tropical forests and their diversity (Alhéritière, 1979). In the forestry field, it can be expected that Canadian (Sachs, 1977) and Swedish aid programmes will be two additional vehicles for transmitting concepts of environmental planning to developing countries.
Among the international conservation bodies, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has been particularly active in promoting the, protection of forests and other resources in the developing world. IUCN, with the support of UNEP, Unesco, FAO, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and bilateral aid agencies such as the Swedish SIDA, has published several guidelines for encouraging ecologically sound development of the tropics (cf. Poor, 1976b; Unesco/UNEP/FAO, 1978, Ch. 21). With UNEP and WWF, IUCN has recently issued its World Conservation Strategy (IUCN/UNEP/WWF, 1980), which recommends, among other measures, the adoption of EIA in development planning.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is another conservation body that has advocated the introduction of EIA in the developing world. In a recent report funded by UNEP and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), IIED has noted that most of the nine international funding agencies reviewed did not have "formal procedures for assessing the environmental impact of their programmes" (IIED, 1978). Funding agencies have apparently begun to revise their planning procedures accordingly (New Scientist, 1978, Dec. 7, p. 749). The European Development Fund has sought the assistance of IIED in order to formulate environmental guidelines to be included in the Lomé Convention on Trade and Aid (Lomé II), signed in October 1979.
The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), through its Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), is also promoting the diffusion of EIA to developing countries. With the support of UNEP, SCOPE may adapt its previous publication on impact assessment (Munn, 1979) to suit the circumstances of developing countries.
FAO's activities in the field of environmental conservation started well before the UN Stockholm Conference. In the early 1960s integrated approaches to natural resources development, combined with environmental protection, were already under way. These early activities covered the FAO Mediterranean development project, wildland and environmental conservation in Latin America, case studies on shifting cultivation in Africa and Latin America, regional training courses and study tours in watershed management, national park planning and wildlife management, shelterbelt plantation, sand dune stabilization and several field projects in these and other related subjects.
The creation of FAO's Inter-Departmental Working Croup on Natural Resources and the Human Environment marked a turning point of the Organization's specific interest in environmental issues. In 1978 a special chapter on Natural Resources and Human Environment for Food and Agriculture was included in the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report. Tropical forest cover monitoring, world forest resources assessments, meetings on the conservation and wise uses of tropical forests and woodlands assessment of soil degradation, a world map of desertification, and ecological management of arid and semiarid rangelands are among the activities being executed by FAO with UNEP support. FAO's Environment Paper series and Conservation Guide series deal with various environmental issues related with the Organization's development work.
In summary, at the beginning of the 1980a there is concerted pressure to introduce systematic assessment of the environmental consequences of forestry and other development projects in the developing countries. The sense of urgency comes from the fragility of the forest resources themselves, from the establishment of regulatory agencies in the developing countries, from the procedural requirements of international funding and technical assistance agencies and of individual donor countries, and from the activism of the international conservation and scientific community.
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