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World of forestry

New FAO Assistant Director-General for forestry appointed

Dr A. Harcharik has been appointed by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf as the new Assistant Director-General of the Forestry Department. Dr Harcharik, a national of the United States, has more than 20 years of international forestry experience. His international career began with the United States Peace Corps in Peru where he served for two years (1965-1967) as visiting professor with the Agrarian University, teaching and conducting applied research in tropical silviculture. Later, he was recruited by FAO and worked at the Organization's Rome headquarters as forestry officer in forestation and tree improvement for more than five years.

In 1981 he joined the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service as Latin America Coordinator for the Forestry Support Program's (FSP) international forestry staff, which coordinates technical assistance from the United States professional forestry community to the overseas development projects of the United States Agency for International Development. In 1982 he became the FSP Program Manager and, from 1984 to 1991, was Director of International Forestry. When International Forestry was elevated to a deputy area in 1992, he became Associate Deputy Chief and then Acting Deputy Chief.

His international career has taken him to many countries around the world and has involved him in technical work in silviculture and tree improvement, in project design, planning, scientific exchanges and policy development. He has done short-term work for the World Bank and the World Food Programme and has also worked in the United States for a private forestry consulting firm and for North Carolina State University.

He has served on the Society of American Foresters' World Forestry Committee and the International Forestry Working Group, the Board of Directors of the American Forestry Association and the Strategic Advisory Council of the Yale University School of Forestry.

Dr Harcharik replaces Assistant Director-General C. Hollis Murray who retired in mid-1994.

FAO Director-General convenes High Level Panel of Experts on Forestry

The loss and degradation of forests and the global concern for the sound management of forests for the full range of the wood and non-wood goods and services they provide have thrust forest conservation and development high on the international agenda. The expectations for greater attention to forests by governments, international organizations, NGOs and the private sector were strongly manifested at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992.

The UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD), established to promote UNCED follow-up action and periodic review of progress, has entrusted FAO with task manager responsibilities for promoting collaborative action within the UN system regarding follow-up action in forestry. The Council of FAO, at its hundred-and-third session in June 1993, endorsed an adapted programme of work in forestry to ensure that it reflected UNCED agreements while the Conference of FAO, at its twenty-seventh session in November 1993, recommended that "FAO take a lead role in the preparatory process for the implementation of ... the forest principles".

Against this background, from 19 to 21 October 1994, the Director-General of FAO convened a High Level Panel of External Experts at the Organization's headquarters in Rome to seek strategic advice on how FAO might more effectively facilitate and support the international dialogue on forests and forest-related issues; participate more effectively in shaping the debate on forest-related matters; and provide assistance to Member Nations in the formulation and implementation of sustainable national forestry action plans and programmes.

State of the world's forests

As recommended by the High Level Panel of Experts on Forestry, FAO has prepared the first issue of The State of the World's Forests as background information on the occasion of the Eleventh Session of the Committee on Forestry and the associated Ministerial Meeting. The purpose of this document is to present some of the important policy issues facing the international community and to summarize the main areas of factual information.

The presentation brings together information from the Global Forest Resources Assessment 1990; the FAO Yearbook of Forest Products; the special chapter of The State of Food and Agriculture 1994, entitled Forest development and policy dilemmas (see short article above); the forestry chapter of Agriculture towards 2010; and The challenge of sustainable forest management: what future for the world's forests?. In addition, The State of the World's Forests includes two regional reviews, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, which were presented at FAO regional forestry meetings. Future issues of The State of the World's Forests will examine, in turn, the other regions and will include analyses of particularly pressing aspects of the world forestry situation.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Panel

The Panel recommended: that FAO take full advantage of the task manager role assigned to it by the CSD and, particularly, of the forthcoming CSD meeting in 1995 to reaffirm its leadership role regarding forestry issues within the UN system; and that it strengthen partnerships and cooperation with other principal actors in the field. A key benefit of this was perceived to be maintenance of the momentum of high-level priority dedicated to forestry at top political and decision-making levels. In addition, the Panel formulated a series of recommendations related to the main areas of FAO's constitutional mandate: information gathering, analysis and dissemination; forum for international dialogue; provider of policy and planning advice and technical assistance The Panel recognized that the implementation of its recommendations would have significant human and financial resource implications and, given the high priority being accorded to forestry development, suggested that the provision of increased resources for FAO's work in the sector, from both Regular Programme and extra-budgetary sources, would be justified.

Information gathering, analysis and dissemination.

The Panel urged that consideration be given to upgrading FAO's capability in gathering as well as verifying, synthesizing, interpreting and distributing statistical data on forestry. In view of the fundamental importance of the availability of accurate data and because of FAO's undisputed lead role in global forest resource assessment, the Panel recommended strongly that FAO systematically assess and make use of the basic data provided by countries and by well-established independent research organizations. The Panel recognized FAO's comparative advantage in activities related to capacity-building and recommended that the Organization increase its efforts to strengthen the capacity of national governments, particularly in developing countries, to collect reliable quantitative data, including volumetric and growth rates. In addition, the scope of forest resource assessment should be expanded to include more qualitative features, e.g. environmental factors and non-timber values as well as identification of degraded forests and areas for reforestation and data necessary to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gases on forests and the potential positive role of forests as carbon sinks.

The Panel agreed on the necessity for formulating criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management that are scientifically based and internationally accepted. The Panel urged FAO to collect information immediately on ongoing initiatives, seek to facilitate activities by convening meetings or seminars to examine and identify gaps, convergences and divergences and to make proposals for future actions prior to the CSD meeting in 1995.

Forum for International dialogue.

The Panel discussed the conversion of the "forest principles approved at UNCED into a binding international agreement on forests. It recognized that divergent views on this topic exist and recommended that FAO prepare a well-balanced document including the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach. The aim would be to lead eventually to the initiation of an international negotiating process.

The Panel also recommended that FAO undertake an independent review and assessment of the terms of reference, outputs, current relevance and impact of its forest-related committees and bodies. The Panel also recommended that the FAO

Regional Commissions be made more effective as regional fore for cooperation and collective action by FAO strengthening its supportive role, particularly in preparing strategic analyses and proposals for action.

Policy and planning advice and partner in technical assistance.

The importance of FAO's role in policy advice to countries and in international deliberations on forests was stressed. In this context, the Panel strongly recommended that FAO produce a periodic report on the state of the world's forests - an authoritative policy-oriented report incorporating the Organization's own accomplishments and plans as well as recommendations to other actors. It should highlight timely issues of special importance (see Box, State of the world's forests).

The Panel recognized the contribution made by the Tropical Forests Action Programme (TFAP) as a planning framework through its various developmental and evolutionary stages. The Panel considered that the scope of the TFAP should be broadened to include all types of forests. It recommended that FAO continue to support the TFAP and that it be integrated into the Organization's normal planning and programming activities, typically at the initial stages of its continuum of country-level forestry services.

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