European Forestry, Commission (EFC)
The European Forestry Commission is the FAO regional statutory body dealing with forestry matters. It meets every two years to analyse trends and issues in forestry development, and to advise member countries and FAO on policy issues and orientations for future programmes. The Twenty-fourth Session of the European Forestry Commission was held from 5 to 8 June 1989 at FAO headquarters in Rome. It was attended by delegations from 22 FAO member countries, an observer from the German Democratic Republic and representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Economic Community, the European Confederation of Agriculture, the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations and the International Federation of Building and Woodworkers. The session was chaired by Mr E. Clicheroux of Belgium.
Mr C.H. Murray, Assistant Director-General of the Forestry Department, welcomed the delegates on behalf of the Director-General of FAO. He noted the continuing commitment of FAO to European forestry and the role of the EFC as a unique forum for discussion and concerted action in response to the important social, political and economic challenges facing forestry in Europe. The importance of Europe's relationship with other regions in terms of forestry trade was also stressed. Initiatives were being sought to support tropical countries in grappling with the complex problems of conserving their forest resources while striving to develop their economies. Proposals for unilateral action such as trade embargos raised concern, however, and Mr Murray urged the Commission to disseminate a clear and unequivocal message that these methods would contribute neither to conservation of resources nor to the development of international trade. By contrast, he characterized the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) as the centrepiece of a coordinated international effort. The Plan is central to the efforts and priorities of FAO's work and Mr Murray acknowledged the commitment of the EFC member countries to the TFAP.
DEVELOPED COUNTRY FORESTS policy reviews are under way In many countries
The first major item on the agenda was national progress reports covering six pre-selected topics:
Significant changes in forestry policies, legislation and administration since the 22nd Session of the EFC in 1985. In many countries increasing emphasis was being given to the multiple use of the forest and to environmental protection, as well as to the role of forestry in rural land use planning, including afforestation as a possible use of land no longer needed for agriculture. However, the production of wood remained a fundamental objective in all countries, even those where its relative importance had declined.
Trends in costs, prices and net revenues in public and private forestry. Although comparisons are difficult to make because of different accounting systems, it would appear that a comparison of tangible revenues with tangible costs in many cases suggests a meagre or even negative net income.
It was pointed out that the provision of many non-wood benefits is still not included in calculations of net returns, thus providing a distorted picture. The Commission agreed that the need to measure financial performance was becoming greater than ever. More pressure could be expected for business accounting systems to be applied to forestry, covering all types of inputs and outputs, including those without apparent market values.
Forestry, tourism and recreation. The reports clearly showed that the role of forests in providing opportunities for recreation and leisure is increasing everywhere in Europe. Delegations described measures to improve accessibility and recreation opportunities, while preserving sensitive areas such as protection forests and nature conservation areas. Efforts are also being made to provide more information for the public about nature, forests and forestry.
Opportunities for, and constraints to, the expansion of forestry, including the effects of changes in agricultural policies. In many European countries, afforestation is being considered as one of a number of alternative uses of agricultural land made available as a result of overproduction of agricultural produce or population drift to urban areas. Availability of financing, including the covering of the Landowners' income during the early years of the plantation, was identified as a serious constraint in some situations. In some cases, it was felt that improvement of existing forests could be a better means of achieving forest policy objectives than afforestation.
RECREATIONAL USE OF FORESTS is becoming increasingly important
Recent developments in forest protection. Many of the reporting countries were deeply worried about the problem of forest protection, but the object of concern differed. The two most serious problems were seen to be forest decline, in which atmospheric pollution was considered to be a major factor, and forest fire. Several countries expressed great concern about the increasing acidification of forest soils and the long-term effect on forest vitality and water quality.
There was general agreement on the need for regular monitoring of the forest health and damage situation. An integrated approach was favoured, considering the forest ecosystem as a whole.
Official support for private forestry, including measures to rationalize ownership structure. The discussions on this point centred on the methods adopted in the reporting countries for the financing of activities to support private forestry. In the Nordic countries and France, for example, some or all of the funds were obtained from taxes or levies and support to private forestry was partly or wholly self-financing.
The Commission also considered three special topics:
Preliminary results of the FAO survey of forest policies in Europe. Based on 28 national reports, the Commission noted that forestry policies were increasingly influenced by environmental concerns and land management related issues. Emphasis was laid on the need to promote closer cooperation with policy-makers in agriculture, environment and other related sectors.
The value of hydrological effects of forests and other protective vegetation. A report prepared by the Chairman of the Working Party on the Management of
Mountain Watersheds stressed the highly beneficial influence of forest vegetation on the behaviour of torrents; however, the report also noted that problems remain in areas where protective planting cannot be undertaken, or where exceptionally high amounts of rainfall occur.
Organizational problems and solutions in the aftermath of major forest catastrophes. The Commission considered reports by the representatives from the United Kingdom and France concerning response to the catastrophic winds of 1987, and concluded that European response capacity was increasingly effective.
With regard to the activities of subsidiary bodies, the Commission noted with satisfaction the valuable results being achieved through the work of the Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee on Forest Working Techniques and Training of Forest Workers. Particular reference was made to the seminar in France in 1988 on the employment of contractors in forest work, and the planned seminar in the United Kingdom in 1990 on chemicals in forestry.
Other subsidiary bodies reporting to the Commission included: the Joint FAO/ECE Working Party on Forest Economics and Statistics; the AFC/EFC/NEFC Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions-Silva Mediterranea; the Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds; the Ad Hoc Working Group "Impact of Air Pollution on Forests"; the Ad Hoc Meeting of Experts on the Practical Application of Satellite Sensing for Forest Damage Assessment; the FAO/ECE Seminar on the Valorization of Secondary-quality Temperate-zone Hardwoods; and the FAO/ECE Seminar on Products of the Mediterranean Forest.
European timber trends
The Commission indicated the very high priority it attached to the preparation of the next edition of European timber trends and prospects to the year 2000 and beyond (ETTS V). Particular interest was expressed in the outlook for prices. While the importance of non-wood benefits would need to be stressed in ETTS V, the Commission considered that they warranted a separate study and recommended that appropriate seminars be convened.
The inclusion of relevant information from other regions was considered important, and the Commission emphasized the importance of coordination with FAO studies for other regions and with the International Tropical Timber Organization.
The Commission recommended that, considering the magnitude of resources required for the preparation of ETTS V, governments consider making specific contributions, in the form of funds or experts to work with the Secretariat.
ENSURING RESOURCE CONSERVATION Is a primary concern of the Amazon Declaration
In Latin America, concern over the widespread degradation of forest resources, and the associated constraints to the achievement of overall goals for national socio-economic development have led the countries of the Amazon region to join forces in an attempt to face a common challenge. Meeting in Manaus, Brazil in May 1989 to analyse common interests and the potential for future collaboration, the presidents of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela adopted an Amazon Declaration.
The Declaration stresses the importance of "rational use of the resources of the region, so that present and future generations may benefit from this legacy of nature".
Within this context, the Declaration reaffirms "the sovereign right of each country to freely manage its natural resources, bearing in mind the need for promoting the economic and social development of its people and the adequate conservation of the environment".
However, the Declaration also notes the "willingness (of the Amazonian countries) to accept cooperation from countries in other regions of the world, as well as from international organizations which might contribute to the implementation of national and regional projects and programmes...," and emphasizes "the need that the concerns expressed in the highly developed countries in relation to the conservation of the Amazon environment be translated into measures of cooperation in the financial and technological fields".
In this respect, the Declaration calls for the "establishment of new resource flows...to projects oriented to environmental protection... including pure and applied scientific research...".
The Amazon Declaration is a follow-up to the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty, adopted in July 1978, which advocated inter alia the promotion of scientific research and the exchange of information to ensure that the exploitation of the fauna and flora of the Amazon region is rationally planned so as to maintain the ecological balance within the region and preserve species variety.
IUFRO World Congress
The 19th World Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) will take place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, Canada from 5 to 11 August 1990. It will be the first time in the nearly 100-year history of the Union that the congress has been held in Canada and only the second time it has been held in North America. More than 2 000 forestry researchers from around the world, representing more than 100 countries, are expected to attend.
"Science in forestry: IUFRO's second century" is the theme of the congress. Throughout, congress discussions will emphasize this theme and will consider the research that will be needed as the Union moves into its second century of activity. The main theme will be supported by two subthemes: tropical forestry and forest decline.
Keynote speakers will include: Maurice Strong (Canada), Chairman, Strovest Holdings Inc. and Chairman, American Water Development Inc., on "Canada, forestry and the environment"; Michael Gwynne (UK), Director, Global Environment Monitoring System, UNEP, on "Forests and global climate change''; Otto Solbrig (USA), President, International Union of Biological Sciences and Professor of Biology, Harvard University, on "Biological sciences in forestry"; and Jaakko Pöyry (Finland), Chairman of the Board, Jaakko Pöyry ÖY, on "Forest industry and its relationship to development".
IUFRO, one of the oldest scientific organizations in the world, is a non-governmental, voluntary union formed to enable forestry scientists to communicate with one another throughout the world and to share ideas, methods, data and results in meetings, publications, field trips and informal contacts. Research is the primary activity of IUFRO members-more than 10 000 scientists and their parent organizations. Such organizations include government agencies, universities, private institutions, wood products firms, natural resource associations and any others who employ foresters.
In 1890, the initiative to found the Union was given at the International Agricultural and Forestry Congress in Vienna. Two years later, in 1892, the International Union of Forestry Research Establishments was set up in Eberswalde (now in the German Democratic Republic). in 1893, the Union held its first congress in Vienna. In 1929, the Union was renamed the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations. In 1973, a permanent Secretariat was established in Vienna, by courtesy of the Austrian government.
For more information about the 19th World Congress, contact D.K. Lemkay, Secretary, IUFRO 1990 Inc., Box 1990, Place d'Armes, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3L9, Canada.
Sixty-four countries have requested assistance in implementation of the Tropical Forestry Action Plan. Forestry sector review missions have been or are being carried out in 50 countries and of these, eight (Argentina, Bolivia, Cameroon, Colombia, Honduras, Nepal, Peru and the Sudan) have begun implementation of a national forestry action plan, including the start-up of priority programmes and projects.
These initial programmes are often aimed at strengthening the national forestry infrastructure. For example, in Cameroon, the first project prepared under the national forestry action plan is assisting in the development of a "Cellule d'études socio-économique et de planification" at the Forest Directorate.
In Honduras, a UNDP/FAO project is coordinating and promoting the implementation of the national forestry action plan and supporting projects. At present, 15 forestry projects are operational, and another 12 are in preparation. In May 1989, the President, José Azcona, called for a national meeting to discuss "short- and long-term forestry development policy".
As implementation of the TFAP moves ahead, FAO continues to stress the importance of involving local groups and NGOs in national formulation and implementation. In Bolivia, for example, 11 NGOs participated in the round-table meeting on the effective implementation of the national forestry action plan, between the government and participating agencies.