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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Online consultation on the development of a Global Core Set (GCS) of forest-related indicators

Christopher Prins
Christopher PrinsFAO Forestry Department consultantSwitzerland

Synthesis of online consultation on Global Core Set of Forest Related Indicators

Dear all,

Over the consultation as a whole, there were 34 individuals or groups who contributed, sometimes more than once, representing all regions and many different specialities.  In addition, the webpage of the consultation received around 1,300 page views over the 3 weeks of the consultation.  This clearly demonstrates a high level of interest in the question.  Most of the contributions were quite comprehensive and all showed that the contributor had thought in depth about the issues

It is fair to say that everyone supported the basic concept of the Global Core Set of Forest-related Indicators, which should be short, comprehensive and balanced, and help the forest sector to monitor the high level policy commitments on forests, while reducing the reporting burden.

Some of the debate was quite detailed, but some general points emerged:

  • For any indicator set, it is crucial to clearly articulate the objectives.  For the Global Core Set, these are to be derived from the high level policy commitments, notably the SDGs, the Aichi targets and the newly approved Global Forest Goals and Targets.  The forest community has an obligation to put itself in a position to supply information on progress towards the goals identified by policy makers, and the Global Core Set should streamline this process.
  • Indicators should all have a clear significance, with a relevance to the high level policy goals, and not be purely descriptive.  The significance should be clearly understandable from the wording of the indicator.
  • In general some areas were covered less strongly than others, notably socio-economic factors, biodiversity outcomes and food security.  One participant started the discussion with some suggestions as to what information should be collected on forests’ contribution to food security, but, as she said, much remains to be done
  • When agreed, the Global Core Set should have a “narrative” setting out its objectives, and a set of notes on how the indicators should be interpreted.  The order of indicators should also be restructured (the present numbering emerged from earlier stages of the consultation, and was maintained for ease of reference).
  • Throughout, the indicators should be consistent, to the extent possible, with other relevant work, notably FRA, IUCN (on protected areas), UNFCCC (on GHG stocks and flows) etc.
  • Faced with the challenge of devising indicators on difficult topics, it was suggested that provisions be made for continuous development of the Global Core Set.  For instance, indicators which were not ripe for inclusion, for methodological or data reasons, could be put on a “candidate list” to be worked on.
  • The situation and viewpoints of Low Forest Cover Countries must also be reflected
  • For policy instruments, it is not enough just to look at the existence of an instrument, but also its effectiveness.  But how to do this in a context of international indicators?
  • Coverage of non-wood forest products is weak.  Several participants suggested specific NWFP to consider.

The following points were made about specific indicators:

  • On forest-related jobs (#5), many wanted to expand the scope beyond “forestry and logging” to include downstream activities (industries) and forest related jobs in tourism, research, education, conservation and so on, as well as forest-related subsistence livelihoods.
  • Indicator 7 (ODA) could be merged with indicator 11 (finance from all sources for SFM)
  • There were differences of opinion on indicator 10 Forest area under an independently verified forest management certification scheme.  Some considered it not necessary as certification is a private, voluntary method, while others pointed to its clarity and visibility, as well as to the fact that some governments did indeed use certification as part of forest policy.  It was pointed out that this indicator is a subcomponent of SDG indicator 15.2.1 on Progress towards SFM, and that there should be consistency between the Global Core Set and the SDGs.  PEFC and FSC are now working together to quantify forest areas with double certification, removing one obstacle to estimating the total area of certified forest.
  • Several welcomed the draft indicator on traceability systems (#13), as a tool against illegal logging and as a contribution to monitoring the share of products from sustainably managed forests (Global Forest Target 3.3).
  • Doubts were expressed about how to formulate indicator 14 on forest health and vitality, which should be expressed in terms of share of forest area disturbed.  However, most seem to favour the maintenance of an indicator in this area, whatever the problems.
  • Global Forest Target 1.3 includes a commitment to “restore degraded forests”, so an indicator on area of degraded forest (#15) seems necessary.  However, finding a workable definition for “degraded forest” is challenging.
  • An indicator of livelihoods of forest dependent people (#16) should be included, but is very difficult to formulate properly.   This indicator might be adapted to reflect the commitment to eradicate extreme poverty for all forest dependent people (Global Forest Target 2.1).  .
  • Should an indicator on wood energy (#18) be included?  Some pointed out the policy importance of wood energy, as on the frontier between forest and energy policy, while others considered it outside the scope of SFM, and difficult to monitor.  (Wood energy is not actually mentioned in the high level commitments.  SDG 7.2.1 refers to renewable energy as whole.)
  • Interest was expressed in a new indicator on payment for ecosystem services (#19) as an emerging policy instrument in the green economy concept, but most considered the concept and data was not yet ripe to include this in a global core set.
  • There seems to be consensus on dropping the indicator (#20) on recovery rates for wood and paper.
  • Some proposed to drop the indicator on carbon stocks and flows (#21) as outside the scope of SFM, but others supported its maintenance – or at least of net GHG sink/source from forests.  Otherwise it might appear that forests are not contributing to climate change mitigation.  Indicator 3 on above ground biomass does not cover the whole topic.  Concern was expressed that the data would have to be supplied by UNFCCC, according to guidelines different from those in FRA.

The next step for the Global Core Set is working group discussions at the Expert Consultation on FRA2020 in June.  The results of the on-line consultation will be presented to participants.  Then the CPF will finalise the Global Core Set, which will be presented, by CPF, to the thirteenth session of the UN Forum on Forests in 2018.

I take this opportunity to warmly thank you all again for your participation and your valuable contributions to this intense high level consultation.  It has indeed been a very rewarding and useful process.

Kit Prins