22 September 2003, Quebec/Rome --
At the opening day of the XII World Forestry Congress (Quebec
City, 21-28 September 2003), Dr. Jacques Diouf, FAO
Director-General, stressed that sustainable management of
forests rests on tangible achievements.
Diouf called on all concerned to implement ideas, principles and
programmes progressively put in place by preceding congresses,
post Rio conventions and the international forest dialogue.
He also called for regional and global
action effectively focused on concrete outcomes that make
sustainable forest management an active and living reality.
Today, less than 5 percent of the world
forest resources are effectively managed in a rational manner,
according to FAO.
Global forest is
shrinking. An FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment completed
in 2000 reveals an annual net reduction of 12.4 million hectares
of forest in tropical developing countries over the previous
A vital role
"Forests, source of life"
is the theme of the World Forestry Congress organized jointly by
the Department of Natural Resources Canada and Ministère des
Ressources Naturelles du Québec, in collaboration with FAO.
More than 3 000 foresters, scientists,
members of forest-based communities and others interested in
forests from over 120 countries are gathered in Quebec City.
Underlining the importance of sustainable
management of forests, Dr. Diouf said the role of forests is
vital in mitigating conditions that alter climate and in
combating land degradation and desertification.
Sustainable management rests on the conservation of
biological diversity and on the realization of the economic
functions of forests. It means reasonable options aimed at
protecting a global mass of forests that contributes to
The greatest challenge is
hunger, which affects more than 840 million people in the world,
Dr. Diouf said.
through the conservation of natural resources and of functions
that maintain productive processes, can ensure an environment
that fosters effective and sustainable food
production," Dr. Diouf also said.
In addition, forestry can help rural poor people find
employment and thus generate revenues that permit them to have
access to food.
According to Dr. Diouf,
another challenge is mobilising water resources to use them
efficiently and in a sustainable manner.
Good water management requires mastering the resource
and using it efficiently in order to produce enough quantities
of food for a rapidly growing world population.
Well managed forests protect precious aquatic
resources by preserving banks along water ways and protecting
soils against erosion.
The role of trees
and forests in the management of watersheds should be recognised
would have spared many countries an explosion of forest fires,
notably those of this past summer.
Regarding the economic and social importance of
international trade in forest products, which amounts to 100
billion dollars, FAO observed that the revenues from such trade
are essentially concentrated in the richest countries in the
world or in the hands of intermediaries other than producers.
Word Forestry Congresses - which are hosted
every six years - serve as a forum to exchange views and
experiences and to discuss matters concerning all aspects of
forestry that might lead to formulation of recommendations
applicable on a regional or global basis.
These recommendations can be brought to the attention
of the FAO Conference for possible endorsement, through a
Information Officer, FAO
mobile: (+39) 34 825