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FAO forestry

FAO Draft Forestry Strategy

FAO is currently preparing a Strategic Plan for Forestry, designed to give a coherent orientation to the Organization's programmes in forestry over the next decade, a period in which the sector is expected to be facing increasingly complex challenges as well as promising opportunities.

Although the Forestry Department will have the lead responsibility for ensuring its implementation, the plan will embody the strategy of the entire Organization in the field of sustainable forestry development. The Strategic Plan, which will be revised periodically, looks ahead to the medium term (approximately five to ten years) and it will therefore be the basic document from which the implementation plans, i.e. FAO's biennial programmes of work and budget, will be developed.

FAO takes a comprehensive view of forestry, which deals both with forests and with trees in different landscapes. Forestry is rightly concerned with the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits of forests as well. Activities are carried out not only in forests, but also on farms, rangelands, barren watersheds and in other ecosystems that are not traditionally considered forests. The commercial aspects of forestry address the many steps from production through to processing, marketing and trade. Since the future of forests is determined as much by developments outside as within the sector, FAO's Strategic Plan for Forestry must look beyond the forest while the Forestry Department must work closely with other disciplines and agencies to ensure the optimal use and conservation of forests and associated lands. FAO also takes an inclusive view of forest stakeholders, supporting a variety of informal and formal organizations as potential partners in sustainable forest management. In defining a strategic plan, FAO thus seeks to meet the needs of its member countries and other clients, to foster interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work and to facilitate collaboration with and among other organizations.

FAO itself does not manage forests and trees; rather, its role is to facilitate, catalyse and provide information, guidance and assistance for the actual managers of the resource. FAO's primary clients are national governments representing member countries, but it also serves other concerned and responsible voices in forestry, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, foundations, universities and rural people's organizations. FAO seeks to assist these and other groups to achieve a better understanding, use and management of the world's trees and forests. Through its own efforts and partnership with others, FAO aims to facilitate progress towards the sustainable management of all types of forest.

The draft Strategic Plan is currently being reviewed, both internally by the FAO Regional Forestry Commissions and externally. Individuals who wish to obtain a copy of the draft are requested to contact: Publications and Information Coordinator, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. Fax: (396) 57053024; e-mail:

B. R. Sen Award to Hon TatTang - Forestry Project Coordinator

Hon Tat Tang, a Malaysian national with nearly 30 years of experience in forestry planning and research, has been awarded the prestigious B. R. Sen Award by the 29th Session of the FAO Conference for his outstanding contribution to the advancement forestry in Pacific Island countries.

In 1990 Mr Tang was recruited by FAO as Project Coordinator to conclude the final 18 months of the South Pacific Forestry Development Programme (SPFDP), based in Vanuatu. Since his appointment, Mr Tang provided the leadership to rebuild the project into an important and effective focal point for the forests and trees sector in the Pacific Island countries.

In October 1992, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) approved a four-year successor phase project, with new headquarters in Fiji, testament to Mr Tang's leadership and commitment. The SPFDP has since developed into the main focal point for the forests and trees sector in the region today.

Given a limited operational budget, the SPFDP has achieved considerably more than would normally be expected, and programme partners appreciate and recognize it as the foundation of donor support in the region. The SPFDP has established an outstanding record of accomplishment and trust, and has consistently generated a high level of cooperation and collaboration among Pacific Island aid coordinators, heads of forestry and other government agencies, NGOs, UNDP, several bilateral donor agencies and the private sector. Under the leadership of the Mr Tang, the SPFDP has clearly illustrated how innovative networking modalities can operate and function effectively, given a flexible yet results-oriented approach to project implementation.

Mr Tang's role in elevating the SPFDP to its present status was recognized by a 1994 Review Mission of SPFDP, which observed:

"It was largely due to the personal style and networking ability of the Project Coordinator (Mr Tang) that the programme was so successful in obtaining collaboration from other agencies. He managed the programme efficiently and dynamically, and brought to it status and recognition. Most of the programme's accomplishments are due directly to the current Project Coordinator, whose management style and networking abilities prompted the collaboration of numerous agencies throughout and beyond the region."

The B. R. Sen Award, conferred annually by FAO, is named after a former Director-General of FAO, Dr Binay Ranjan Sen. The recipient of the award must have a minimum of two years' continuous service in the field and must have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the country or countries to which he/she was assigned. This contribution must be clearly identifiable; it may take the form of technical innovations in agriculture, fisheries or forestry; institutional or development support improvements; discoveries of new resources as a result of surveys or other investigations; or the establishment of training and research institutions. The award carries with it a cash prize of US$ 5000.

AFWC/EFC/NEFC Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions "Silva Mediterranea" holds 17th session

The 17th session of the AFWC/EFC/NEFC Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions "Silva Mediterranea" was held in Antalya, from 10 to 13 October 1997, as a satellite meeting to the Eleventh World Forestry Congress. The session was attended by delegates from 11 members of the Committee and by observers from four intergovernmental and international NGOs.

The Committee deliberations focused on the following topics:

Activities of the Mediterranean Forest Action Programme (MED-FAP), 1994-1997

Various member countries involved in the programme outlined national progress in the implementation of their National Forestry Action Plans. Many of them, without international funding support, had established national committees and initiated a review of their forestry sector. Several countries presented accounts of recent developments in the forestry sector in their respective countries, following the guidelines of MED-FAP. Partnerships in the plans were discussed and the Committee concluded that consensus on procedures was more important than the final result. While international cooperation could be effective in helping to formulate the right questions, national characteristics and history were extremely important. Public participation in the planning and implementation of forestry programmes was also considered of vital importance.

The state of forestry in the region

Members reported on the state of forestry and related activities in their respective countries. The following issues were common to all reports:

· socio-economic aspects and people's participation play an important role in the management of forest resources;

· environmental concerns are being addressed by different groups, and foresters have thus to interact with other professions in order to achieve optimal natural resource management;

· urban expansion into forests is a major concern;

· overall fire management (not only statistics) is a matter of concern to several countries;

· there is an expansion of forest plantations, especially on degraded lands, and of the use of recycled water for irrigation;

· the value of non-wood forest products and services is gaining ground;

· the importance of the services (e.g. ecotourism) provided by Mediterranean forests is increasing;

· there is a strong need for communication and coordination between forestry users and policy-makers.

The members present considered the role of Silva Mediterranea to be very important and unique and they expressed their unanimous support to the Committee, reiterating its role in the Mediterranean region. It recommended that communication within the Committee itself be improved since efficiency was hindered by a lack of information exchange. It recommended that the secretariat should establish closer and proactive contacts and develop cooperation with other organizations with mandates and activities in the same fields of interest.

Activities of the research networks

The apparent weakness of the networks at present was felt to be due not to a lack of interest but mainly to the lack of communication, funds and the variable commitment of coordinators.

The Committee recommended that FAO should find ways and means to establish better cooperation between the research networks and the European Union, which is a member of the Committee, in order to seek its support for financial assistance, bearing in mind the problem of funding multilateral cooperation. It also suggested that, as many of the Mediterranean forestry problems were initiated outside the forestry sector, this aspect should be addressed by the research activities, for better coordination and synergies.

Assessment of the need for a new research network on the development of Mediterranean forest products and services

At its previous session, the Committee had recommended that the secretariat should study the need and possibility of establishing a new research network on the development of Mediterranean forest products and services. A final decision could not be reached. However, the Committee recommended that, bearing in mind the priorities of the activities of the research networks, cooperation with potential donors and partners such as the European Union should be sought in order to secure necessary funding. In addition, the Committee recommended that the secretariat should study the possibility of collaboration with NGOs, such as the International Association for Mediterranean Forests, for the exchange and diffusion of information.

International conventions (biodiversty, desertification control and climate change) in the Mediterranean context

It was recognized that the present structure and modus operandi of the Committee would not allow it to play a significant role in coordinating the implementation of these conventions. Nevertheless, within its mandate and means, the Committee agreed to endeavour to follow up on the implementation of the conventions and play an active role in collecting and disseminating information among member countries.

Scenarios for the future of Mediterranean forests

The Director of the Blue Plan (MAP/UNEP) presented information to the Committee on the trends of Mediterranean forests, which are under increasing pressure from demographic growth. The Blue Plan was undergoing a process of new prospective studies and was looking for expertise and dissemination possibilities for information that could be provided by the Committee. The Committee recommended that the Secretariat maintain active links and cooperate with the Blue Plan in this regard.

Silva Mediterranea jubilee

As the Committee would be celebrating its golden jubilee in 1998, it suggested that this event be taken into account when organizing the next session. It was recommended that a special paper commemorating this anniversary should be produced, summarizing the evolution and future prospects of Silva Mediterranea.

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