Forest policy, economics and institutions
Although most countries have established forest policies, the results have remained far from satisfactory. In general, this is due to a lack of capacity for forest policy analysis, assessment, development and implementation. APFC is currently implementing various activities aimed at strengthening institutional, managerial and policy-making capacities at both national and regional levels. APFC has also implemented a number of regional policy reviews.
The Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS)
The Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS) provided an important roadmap for forestry sector development in the Asia-Pacific region to 2010. APFSOS II: Asia-Pacific Forestry Towards 2020, has been initiated under the auspices of the APFC. An issues paper was drafted to provide the foundation for national and regional consultations and country outlook studies. A meeting of APFSOS II national focal points in Asia was convened in January 2007, in Thailand; a similar meeting for focal points in the Pacific Islands was convened in February 2007, in Fiji. Currently, national focal points are coordinating the preparation of country outlook papers; consultants and young professionals in the region have been recruited to develop in-depth studies on about 15 forest-related themes. An APFSOS Seminar, The Future of Forests in Asia and the Pacific: Outlook for 2020, was organized 16-18 October 2007, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The conference attracted over 250 participants. It was designed to share information and perspectives on the future of forests and forestry in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the broader Outlook Study. In addition to support from FAO, financial support for APFSOS II is being provided by more than a dozen agencies, including large contributions from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Reinventing forestry agencies
APFC launched this initiative to provide countries with recommendations on appropriate national forestry institutional adaptation. It is intended to assist countries in re-aligning their forestry institutions to ensure their effectiveness and relevance in light of major and rapid changes in forestry and society’s expectations. Case studies describing and analyzing efforts to restructure key forestry agencies have been undertaken in 10 countries of the region. A publication highlighting the findings of the studies is expected to be published in mid-2008.
Executive Education - Forest Policy Short Course
The first two-week course was held 22 April – 4 May, in Bangkok, in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, the National Forest Programme Facility, ITTO and the Thailand Environment Institute. The course, aimed at mid- to upper-level government forestry professionals, raised the participants’ understanding of forest policies and relevant analytical tools for policy analysis across a broad spectrum of issues. A second forest policy short course was conducted for South Pacific participants in Nadi, Fiji, in November 2007, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The concern that forest policies in Asia-Pacific countries have not kept pace with rapidly evolving issues and shifting demands is growing, and many policies have not been implemented effectively. There is a pervasive inability to analyze emerging issues and articulate appropriate policies at the national levels. An initial consultation in 2006 confirmed the need for a forest policy “network-cum-think tank” in the Asia-Pacific region, and considered options for establishing such a vehicle. A follow-up consultation with regional officials and potential international and regional supporting organizations was organized 21-22 August, in Manila, Philippines. In this meeting, the scope of the “initiative” was narrowed and potential structures refined. It was decided that an interim coordinator and core group should be constituted and FAO would assume the next step in mobilizing resources to conduct both a gap analysis, and develop proposals for circulation to potential donors.
A multi-country study has been launched to investigate constraints to private sector investment in forestry in the region. APFC and FAO are working with the Bagong Pagasa Foundation to implement case studies in 8-10 countries that will identify the main issues, factors and policies that prevent or discourage private sector investment in plantation establishment, forest management, and forestry processing facilities.
APFC has conducted a review of experiences in establishing and managing multi-stakeholder processes in forestry in the region. The review was completed in October 2007 and published in January 2008.