AFRICAN FOREST ECONOMICS NEWSLETTER: SEPTEMBER 2001
African Forest Economics Newsletter is a free e-mail newsletter that provides information about research and developments in forest economics in Africa. Thank you to all those who have shared information with us.
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. New source of country-level information about the forestry sector
2. Sources of finance for sustainable forest management
3. The impact of civil conflicts on the forestry sector in Africa
4. Public consultation on the outlook for forestry in Africa
1. NEW SOURCE OF COUNTRY-LEVEL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FORESTRY SECTOR
Over the last four years, FAO has been working with the EC and national partners to strengthen national capacities to collect, analyse and produce improved information for policymaking in the forestry sector. Three EC-FAO Projects on improving data collection and analysis are currently being implemented in Africa and the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America. The data collection project in Africa and the Caribbean will be completed this year, but a second project in Africa has continued to build upon this work in a number of specific topic areas.
Although initiated with support from FAO and the EC, these projects have been embraced by countries, resulting in a high level of participation and input by national experts and officials. The projects are all being implemented largely with the use of national experts, with technical review and support from FAO staff. To date, over 200 African experts have been involved in the data collection project in Africa and the Caribbean and a similarly high level of national participation is expected in the other three projects.
A large number of country reports, thematic reports and workshop proceedings have been produced or are in preparation. These reports contain a wealth of information about developments in the forestry sector in countries which are all being gradually uploaded onto the new website. They form an important source of data for the ongoing regional forestry outlook studies.
The new website can be found athttp://www.fao.org/forestry/foris/index.jsp?lang_id=1&geo_id=42&start_id=2711 and will replace the previous FAO webpages on forestry sector outlook studies.
As part of the international dialogue on forestry, countries have concluded that international organisations could play an important role by disseminating information about sources of funding for sustainable forest management. In response to this, FAO has started a small pilot project to improve public access to information about sources of funding for activities in the forestry sector. This is being developed as part of a more comprehensive project to improve information about this subject.
The pilot project has produced a very small database describing the types of funding that are available. Currently, this only includes a small number of funding organisations and it is limited to organisations that have placed information about funding on the internet. In addition to funding for traditional forestry projects, the database also includes information about funding for a wide range of other activities that could contribute to sustainable forest management (e.g. grants for overseas study and training, grants for feasibility studies).
A copy of the database for testing and evaluation can be accessed at:http://www.fao.org/forestry/foris/index.jsp?lang_id=1&geo_id=42&start_id=2711&page_id=4268. FAO would welcome comments about the usefulness and quality of this information and to receive any suggestions about how it could be improved. We would therefore be very keen to receive feedback which can be sent by e-mail to email@example.com.
It is unfortunate that developments in the forestry sector in Africa are often affected by internal or external civil conflicts. Two reports have recently been produced describing such effects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a recent UN report (Report of the panel of experts on the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) describes how the deteriorating security situation in parts of the country has led to the systematic illegal exploitation and exportation of a number of natural resources including forest products. The report describes how a number of national and international agents have allegedly conspired to benefit from this situation by harvesting and illegally exporting products through neighbouring countries. The report also describes some measures that the international community could take to reverse the current situation. The report can be downloaded from:http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/letters/2001/357e.pdf.
In Liberia, the situation is somewhat different, with the national government allegedly using the forestry sector to support insurrection in neighbouring countries. The report (Taylor-made: the pivotal role of Liberia's forests in regional conflict) has been produced by Global Witness (an international NGO) and describes how the revenue from exports of forest products are possibly being used to support insurrection in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The report arrives at a list of conclusions very similar to the above report from UN Panel and the report can be downloaded from:http://www.oneworld.org/globalwitness/liberia/liberia_report_cover.htm.
While it is probably beyond the scope of most of our readers to undertake such studies, these reports do point to some interesting approaches to investigating governance in the forestry sector. This is a topic that is becoming increasingly important in the study of forestry policies and forestry economics in many countries. The above information is presented here for information and future study and is not endorsed or supported by FAO. For those of you without good internet access, requests for copies of either of these reports can be sent to:firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAO has recently implemented a survey to collect the views and perceptions of a wide number of stakeholders about the future outlook for the forestry sector in Africa. Over 500 replies have been received to date with a high level of responses from all African countries and regions. About half of the responses have come from NGOs and representatives of local communities. A high number of responses have also come from forestry administration staff. However, the level of responses from industry and the private-sector is disappointing.
Unfortunately, the views expressed by most respondents are quite pessimistic. There is a consensus that forests in the region will continue to disappear, resulting in continued losses of biodiversity and increased soil erosion and desertification. Respondents see the main causes of this as: population pressure and poverty; a lack of understanding about the benefits of maintaining forest cover; general degradation of ecosystems; and a lack of appropriate management structures. In order to improve the situation, respondents suggest the following measures: increased participation in forest management; improved ecological awareness and education; development of eco-tourism activities; development of urban forestry; and better training in forestry and agricultural practices.
A preliminary report of the survey can be obtained email@example.com. However, this survey is still not completed and FAO would also welcome your contribution to the survey. The questionnaire used in the survey can also be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org or a copy can be downloaded from: http://www.fao.org/forestry/fosa/survey.pdf.
Publications from the EC-FAO Project on fiscal policies and the forestry sector in Africa can now be downloaded from the FAO website at:http://www.fao.org/forestry/foris/index.jsp?lang_id=1&geo_id=42&start_id=2711&page_id=3986 (in English) or http://www.fao.org/forestry/foris/index.jsp?lang_id=2&geo_id=42&start_id=2711&page_id=3986 (in French). Publications will be loaded onto these webpages as they are completed.
Publications produced during the last month include:
HAMISSOU, G, 2001, The forest revenue system and government expenditure on forestry in Niger, working paper on financing sustainable forest management: FSFM/WP/05, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. (Available in English and French).
Copies can be obtained from:email@example.com.
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