World Forestry Congress fact-finding tours
FAO committee on forestry considers initiative for FAO international forest convention
FAO receives "Golden Oak" award from Colombian Government
The first European Forum for Forest Protection was convened in Stockholm, Sweden from 3 to 5 July 1990. Hosted jointly by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and the InterAction Council (an informal association of former heads of state), the forum was attended by representatives from 18 countries (primarily from northern and eastern Europe), including high level politicians scientists, and representatives of trade and industry and international agencies.
The forum considered a comprehensive report and analysis of the European forest situation and potential forest damage, prepared by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SUAS). Inter alia, the report estimated that even it current plans to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide were to be implemented, 120 million m3 of wood production per year, or about 20 percent of current production, would be lost annually over the next 100 years, and that this would correspond to US$30000 million, considering lost wood production, related value added and non-wood benefits, in addition, air pollution has substantial degenerative effects on the natural resource base and the forest ecosystem, thereby affecting the overall environment and quality of life.
The forum endorsed the report's general conclusions about the present and potential extent of European forest decline. It considered that the analysis and evaluation of the estimated effects verified earlier estimates, and that they provided sufficient evidence for prompt and strong political action.
Energy, industry and transport have profound attach on forest decline
The forum participants noted that factors outside the control of the forest sector - preeminently energy, industry, transport and agricultural policies - have profound effects on forest decline and hence on wood production. This calls for strong political countermeasures to implement required remedial actions. However, appropriate silviculture and forest policy measures could somewhat improve resistance to the effects of air pollutants. In addition the forum considered that remedial action for emission control should take into account its effects on public health and decomposition of buildings, structures and monuments. In a declaration the forum recommended:
· that as European forest decline cannot be effectively addressed by national policies in isolation, it also requires coordinated European efforts, for which the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and other appropriate institutions should assume a coordinating role;
· that individual governments and international organizations should pursue a strategy of reducing emissions across the board, priority being given (but not limited) to improvement of large emission-inefficient plants such as combustion units;
· that in view of the tact that the effect of emission control is transboundary, but notwithstanding the general principle that the polluter pays, consideration should be given to supporting resource-constrained countries through cost-sharing between countries through mutual benefits;
· that an international financing facility be supported to provide the required funds on concessionary or grant terms for emission control measures which predominantly have transboundary benefits, and that existing international and regional banks be alerted by concerned governments to this need;
· that an International Convention on Forests should be promoted to stimulate both European and intercontinental cooperation and control to resolve the problem of emissions within a global framework, including also other forestry-related problems in both the temperate and tropical forests, and that FAO should take the lead role in these efforts;
· that since the energy, industry and transportation sectors require more efficient technology (as well as wider application of already existing appropriate technology), substantial input of capital, improved regulations and more environmentally oriented management to achieve desired changes, this policy be promoted by the respective governments;
· that sources of funds and suitable institutions be identified for intensified research concerning forest ecosystems and air pollutants and their effects. Specify responsibilities for this task have to be identified;
· that this declaration be brought to the attention of the meeting of European forest ministers scheduled to be held in Strasbourg in December 1990, and that they be urged to bring it to the attention of the responsible authorities within their own governments;
· that the forum establish contacts with relevant bodies to bring to their attention European forest decline, including the secretariat of the 1992 UN World Conference on Environment and Development (WCED), the 1990 World Climate Convention, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).
· that the next meeting of the forum be convened in the USSR at the invitation of the USSR Government.
Study tours will be organized In France and other countries
As in the past, the Organizing Committee of the Tenth World Forestry Congress is offering participants a number of programmed visits, scheduled for the week immediately following the Congress (beginning Friday 27 September 1991).
Tours in France
Paris area. Theme: urban-area forests, forest management and organization, visitor policies, trees and cities, urban parks and gardens. Length: 3 days.
The Alps. Theme: mountain land restoration, erosion control, forest pasture management, protecting nature in an alpine environment. Length: 4-5 days.
Vosges-Alsace. Theme: economic role played by forests, silviculture, logging, timber industry, Lorraine regional park, forests and game equilibrium. Length: 4-5 days, possibility of one extra day in Luxembourg.
Bourbonnais-Bourgogne. Theme: superior quality oak production and use. Length: 4-5 days.
Aquitaine. Theme: afforestation, pine forest management, dune control, timber industries. Length: 6-8 days, possibility of two days in the Basque region of Spain.
Auvergne-Limousin. Theme: afforestation carried out during the nineteenth century, as well as that carried out through the National Forest Fund, new afforestation following abandonment of agricultural lands. Length: 4-5 days.
Mediterranean zone. Theme: protection of forests against fire, fire prevention and control, reforestation. Length: 4-5 days.
French Guiana. Theme: improvement of tropical forests in French Guiana while respecting local ecological conditions. Length: 6-8 days.
Tours in Europe
The Organizing Committee is in the process of organizing four one-week tours in selected European countries.
Tours in Africa
Fact-finding tours in Africa are under study, on the following themes: protection and management of humid tropical forests; desertification control, afforestation, economizing fuelwood.
For more information, please contact the Organizing Committee, Tenth World Forestry Congress (see address on inside front cover of this issue of Unasylva).
The FAO Committee on Forestry, which met in Rome from 24 to 28 September 1990, considered a proposal from FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma for the development of a comprehensive convention on forest conservation and development.
The Convention would embrace all the world's forests, and would cover both principles and mechanisms for international cooperation. The objective of the international Convention on Conservation and Development of Forests would be to achieve consensus on broad principles of forest conservation and development and to provide an international framework for action to harmonize the diverse demands on forest resources, including the fulfilment of local needs for fuel, fodder and food; the maintenance of ecological and environmental stability; and the provision of raw materials for industry on a sustainable basis. The Convention would be supplemented by a series of protocols that could set targets and standards for forest conservation and development, including reforestation, and would set mechanisms for the provision of financial resources required to turn agreed concepts into action. The protocols would provide a dynamic dimension to the Convention, in that they could be continuously developed and evolved over time to meet emerging demands on forest resources and increased understanding of the interrelationship between forest resources and other sectors and interests, including climate change and biological diversity.
The Convention would also provide a legal framework to strengthen the future operation of the Tropical Forestry, Action Plan (TFAP). The recent independent review of the TFAP recommended the development of such a convention as a resource-based legal framework that would harmonize ecological and economic approaches to the use of forest resources and provide a mechanism for achieving consensus and compromise among developed and developing countries.
The concept of an International Convention on the Conservation and Development of Forests has also bean endorsed by the Group of Sewn - the world's most industrialized countries - in an Economic Declaration issued at their July 1990 Summit Meeting in Houston, USA; and by the 18 countries that participated in the first European Forum for Forest Protection, held in Stockholm, also in July 1990.
Next steps in the process of developing the Convention include continuing work by FAO staff; a meeting of experts to define technical scope and draft contents in 1991; and discussion of the draft at the World Forestry Congress in September 1991 and at the FAO Conference in November 1991. It is envisaged that a draft convention could be opened for signature in 1992, possibly in conjunction with the UN Conference on Environment and Development. In this connection, however, it is important that the Convention and associated protocols be seen as an ongoing dynamic process for decision-making and target-setting that would not end with the Conference in 1992 but could be continuously developed in the future.
The Colombian National Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment (INDERENA) has awarded FAO its 1990 "Golden Oak" award in recognition of the "outstanding forestry activities carried out in many countries of the world through the Tropical Forestry Action Plan, and in Colombia through the National Forestry Action Plan".
The award was presented by INDERENA Director Germán García Durán. Accepting the award on behalf of FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma, Carlos Bastanchuri, FAO Representative in Colombia, said, "FAO accepts this award with great satisfaction, in that Colombia has been one of the pioneers in the formulation and implementation of a plan of action for the sustainable management and use of its forestry resources. Colombia was the first country to recognize the pressing need to take up, with a decided and audacious effort, the battle to safeguard a natural resource invaluable for the nations and peoples of the tropics, as well as for the sustainable development of the human community." *