GLOBAL FOREST RESOURCES ASSESSMENT - FRA 2005
Sub-regional Workshop for National Correspondents
from South and South-eastern Europe

Budapest, Hungary, 27-29 October 2004

Background

FAO is conducting a series of regional and sub-regional workshops as part of the preparatory work for the country reporting to the Global Forest Resources Assessment Update 2005 (FRA 2005). These regional workshops respond to requests made by many member countries during the global training session held at FAO Headquarters in Rome in November 2003.

The Sub-regional Workshop for Southern and South-Eastern Europe was held in Budapest, Hungary. It was hosted by the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (SEUR) and jointly organized by the FRA Secretariat of the FAO Forestry Department in Rome, and the UNECE/FAO Timber Branch in Geneva. Apart from being the main organizers of the workshop, Mr. Volker Sasse (FAOSEUM) and Mr. Alexander Korotkov (UNECE/FAO Timber Branch) also assisted during the whole workshop as part of the FAO-FRA team.

Invitations to the workshop were extended to the nominated National Correspondents (NCs) for a selected number of countries in southern, central and south-eastern Europe. In total nine participants from eight countries attended the meeting (see List of participants).

Objectives and Content

The main objectives of the workshop were to:
  • Revise the draft country reports and the work done so far by the country correspondents in compiling the national reporting tables for FRA 2005 in order to identify and address the main problems and difficulties encountered;
  • Assure a proper understanding of how to compile the 15 reporting tables, by discussing the problems that the NCs have encountered and to share experiences on the reporting process;
  • Introduce the voluntary reporting tables and the thematic studies for FRA 2005;
  • Describe how FAO can provide support to linked activities such as National Forest Assessments;
  • Establish the time schedule and define deadlines for the country reporting to FRA 2005 and
  • Provide technical assistance and further guidance in order to ensure consistent high-quality reporting that meets the specifications established for FRA 2005.
The first two days of the workshop were dedicated to revision of and discussion on the 15 national reporting tables. Each table was discussed in plenary, where the participating countries presented the main problems and issues encountered. Many of the issues identified by the countries were clarified during the meeting, and the remaining issues were forwarded to the FRA secretariat to be clarified and included in the Frequently Asked Questions on the FRA website. During the first day, the workshop was visited by the Director General of the FAO He briefly welcomed the participants and he received a short information about the ongoing work on FRA 2005.
The voluntary reporting tables and the thematic studies that form part of the FRA 2005 were presented and discussed during the second day of the workshop. The NCs were informed about the thematic studies and the role that they might have in these studies, such as liaising with national experts and validation of country information. Several of the participating countries envisaged that they would include some voluntary reporting tables in the country report. A few countries also showed interest in participating in some of the thematic studies. These countries were advised to contact the persons directly responsible for each of the concerned thematic studies.

The third day began with a presentation on the support to National Forest Assessments (NFAs) that FAO can provide to developing countries and countries in transition. Following the presentation the participants presented the current situation and status of NFAs in their respective countries, and several of the countries, particularly the former Yugoslavian countries, expressed an interest in obtaining FAO support for NFAs.

This was followed by a session where the FRA secretariat presented the different forms for obtaining support when the NCs encounter problems with the reporting process or for addressing special needs. The FRA website was presented, particularly the Discussion Forum and the Frequently Asked Questions, but it was also demonstrated how to find complementary information, such as the IUCN list of endangered species by country.

The workshop was concluded by establishing a work plan for delivering the final draft reports, and by a general plenary discussion on the FRA 2005.

General comments

The key issues of general interest discussed during the workshop have been posted on the FRA 2005 website under the Frequently Asked Questions.

  1. Many of the participating countries have just gone through a process of extensive privatization of forest resources. Unfortunately, there is a general lack of data from the private sector which is causing problems for the FRA reporting.
  2. For many tables data are not available separately for Forest and Other wooded land and it is difficult or almost impossible to disaggregate the data for these classes.
  3. Concern was raised that FAO has changed some definitions between FRA 2000 and FRA 2005 and added some new variables. This makes it difficult to adjust ongoing national assessments and to make long-term trends.
  4. Concern was raised that the data collected in FRA 2005 is not sufficient for making national and regional forecasts for outlook studies, etc.
  5. Future FRAs should put more emphasis on addressing regional needs. One possibility might be to have a common core of national reporting tables for global variables, complemented by specific reporting tables designed to meet regional needs.
  6. There is no national / federal forestry authority in two of the former Yugoslavian countries (Serbia & Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina), thus forestry issues are only dealt with at a sub-national level. This creates problems for the country reporting as people working at one of the sub-national forest authorities are not likely to be given access to information from any of the other sub-national forest authorities in the country. It is also difficult to obtain an official nomination of a National Correspondent (as in the case of Bosnia & Herzegovina). The participants from these countries requested FAO to assist in the gathering of information from the sub-national forestry authorities in order to get more reliable estimates for the countries.
National Resources Forest Assessments

The participants were asked to give a brief description on current situation and status of forest resource assessment in their respective countries. This can be summarized as follows:

The Balkan countries and Romania were all interested in any kind of support that FAO might be able to offer as regards national forest resources assessments. Many times, the forestry authorities do not get the necessary political and financial support in order to carry out new NFIs. The participants from these countries asked FAO to promote country support to NFIs in the high-level dialogue with country officials.

The Balkan countries and Romania also proposed that FAO should arrange a sub-regional meeting on national forest resources assessment, during which a common sub-regional approach could be discussed as well as the possibilities to get support from FAO.
last updated:  Thursday, January 19, 2006