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Other global and regional initiatives in support of sustainable forest management


Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC)

FCCC, which was adopted at UNCED in 1992, aims at stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in an effort to prevent human-caused disturbances of the global climatic system. The Convention commits its Parties to carry out national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions and sinks and to work towards meeting their voluntary emission reduction goals. Under FCCC, a pilot phase for "activities implemented jointly" (AIJ) has been established to test and evaluate the feasibility of achieving the Convention's objectives through cooperative projects between Parties, which are designed to avoid, sequester or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As of 30 August 1998, there were 97 AIJ projects, of which 14 were in the forest sector.37

The Kyoto Protocol, adopted at the third Conference of the Parties (Kyoto, December 1997) and awaiting ratification, has taken further steps by establishing legally binding emission reduction commitments for Annex I countries (developed countries and countries with economies in transition). The Kyoto Protocol makes explicit reference to land use change and forestry under several of its articles. (See also the section on environmental and social services of forests in Part I.) The agreements reached give industrialized countries incentives to invest in forestry activities that increase carbon sequestration or reduce carbon emissions from forests. Under the Protocol, a limited list of activities in the land use change and forestry sector can be used to meet the national emissions commitments. Credit towards meeting national commitments can also be given for investment in other countries. Annex I countries may transfer to, or acquire from, other Annex I countries' emission reduction units resulting from projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to enhance greenhouse gas sinks (Article 6). Annex I countries may also invest in emission reduction projects in non-Annex I countries (most developing countries) through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (Article 12), although the extent to which CDM will include land use change and forestry activities is not yet clear.

While many details of how these mechanisms will function remain to be clarified, the possibilities for forestry investment appear promising. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries have continued motivation to reduce emissions from deforestation and to enhance carbon sequestration. Should the decision be taken to include land use change and forestry activities under CDM, carbon offset projects may offer opportunities to developing countries for increased investment in priority forestry activities, technology transfer, reduced petroleum imports, job creation, institutional capacity development and local social and environmental benefits.

By request of the FCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at its eighth session (June 1998), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will produce by June 2000 a special report on carbon emissions from sources and removals by sinks from land use, land use change and forestry, to help clarify the implications of the Kyoto Protocol for land use sectors, including the forest sector.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The fourth Conference of the Parties to CBD was held in Bratislava, Slovakia from 4 to 15 May 1998. Important agreements were reached on international work programmes related to forest biological diversity and marine and coastal area ecosystems, and on the need to complete a protocol on biosafety. Decisions were also taken regarding the assessment of ongoing activities in agrobiodiversity, the importance of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, the equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, and the development of a clearing-house mechanism and incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

The programme of work on forests, the result of a three-year planning effort in three phases, addresses the development of ecosystem approaches to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; analysis of the influence of human activities; methodologies needed for elaboration and implementation of criteria and indicators; measures to mitigate biological diversity losses; and ecological landscape models, including protected areas.

Many delegations noted that the proposed programme framework needs further elaboration to become more action oriented. CBD's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice was requested to report to the sixth Conference of the Parties on the status and trends of forest biological diversity and options for the conservation and sustainable use of forest biological diversity.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

The first Conference of the Parties to UNCCD was held in Rome from 29 September to 9 October 1997. The conference secured financial resources to support the secretariat, chose the host country and city (Bonn, Germany), decided on the chair and the members of the Committee on Science and Technology, and designated the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as the host for the Global Mechanism of UNCCD, a coordinating and implementation-promoting body.

A number of countries, including Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Mali and Senegal, have begun implementing their National Action Plans. Others (Mali, Tunisia and Uganda) have initiated planning of Convention-related initiatives. The secretariat has a portfolio of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in which to promote implementation of the Convention. Several meetings held in preparation for the second Conference of the Parties (Dakar, Senegal, November 1998) have suggested setting up thematic networks to promote information exchange and technical cooperation among developing countries in the areas covered by UNCCD.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Activities connected with CITES's listing of some endangered forest tree species have continued to be discussed in CITES meetings and in a number of other fora. Although several tree species have been listed on CITES appendices for many years (including Swietenia humilis and Swietenia mahagoni), the subject has become increasingly controversial in recent years with proposals for listing tree species of major commercial importance.

A proposal by Costa Rica to list big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) on Appendix III of CITES took effect in 1995. Bolivia and Brazil followed suit; the listing of their populations of S. macrophylla on Appendix III became effective in 1998. Appendix III, in practice, implies that the country or countries listing the species must issue export permits and others trading in the species must issue a certificate of origin. As a result, other exporting countries must now issue certificates of origin for their exports of big-leaf mahogany sawlogs, sawnwood and veneers. At the tenth Conference of the Parties to CITES (Harare, Zimbabwe, June 1997), Bolivia and the United States proposed that S. macrophylla be listed on Appendix II, which would imply stricter trade restrictions than Appendix III, but the proposal was defeated.

Concern has been expressed that the listing of species under CITES will not, on its own, help save endangered species or populations from extinction. Listing should help promote active protection or management to conserve and enhance the genetic resources under threat of extinction or genetic depletion. Many member countries have stressed that the listing of species should be based on factual and reliable information on threats, distribution, ecology and the genetic variation of species concerned.

These and related concerns were addressed at a Mahogany Working Group meeting held in June 1998 in Brasilia, Brazil as follow-up to the tenth Conference of the Parties. The meeting discussed important topics such as the status of mahogany in the Amazon countries, policies and management practices for mahogany and international cooperation and trade. The meeting recommended a number of actions that would improve cooperation, especially among the Amazon countries.

International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA)

The new ITTA 1994, which came into force on 1 January 1997, has been signed by 28 producer countries, 25 consumer countries and the European Union, giving the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) a total membership of 54 (see listing in Table 5 of Annex 3). The agreement remains in force for four years (to 2001) with two three-year extensions possible, which effectively give it a ten-year life.

The current agreement has a greater focus on sustainable forest management than did the previous one (1985 to 1995). The central focus of ITTO's work now is the "Year 2000 Objective", under which all producer countries have made the commitment to have their exports of tropical timber and tropical timber products come from sustainably managed sources by the year 2000. Consumer member countries have also made a commitment to have their forests under sustainable management by 2000. A new fund, the Bali Partnership Fund, has been created to help producing member countries implement sustainable forest management. To date, members have committed about US$12 million (of which US$11.5 million is from Japan); its payment is pending the finalization of the rules for operation.

Among the issues currently being addressed by ITTO are the updating of ITTO's criteria and indicators for sustainable management of natural tropical forests; forest fires; market access; and market difficulties created by the current Asian economic crisis. There is concern that the Asian crisis could hamper producers' efforts to improve forest management practices, thus undermining attempts to achieve ITTO's Year 2000 Objective.


Progress in international processes

Criteria and indicators are tools for assessing national trends in forest conditions and forest management. Whereas "criteria" define the essential components of sustainable forest management, "indicators" are ways to measure or describe a criterion. Together they provide a common framework for describing, monitoring and evaluating progress towards sustainable forest management.

More than 150 countries are currently participating in international processes aimed at the development and implementation of national-level criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. These efforts are grouped into seven regional and ecoregional initiatives, as follows:

While the initiatives differ somewhat in content and/or structure,38 they are similar in objectives and approach. They all incorporate, in some fashion, the following fundamental elements of criteria for sustainable forest management: extent of forest resources; biological diversity; forest health and vitality; productive functions of forests; protective functions of forests; socio-economic benefits and needs; and legal, policy and institutional framework.

The initiatives are in various stages of development and implementation, ranging from initial data collection and reporting on indicators to field testing and consideration of subnational criteria and indicators. Apart from the continuing efforts to refine indicators, the major emphasis of most of the initiatives over the past two years has been the evaluation of the relevance of the criteria and the applicability of the indicators in the light of economic, ecological, social, political and institutional conditions and the needs of the member countries. A number of regional and national meetings and validation workshops have been held for this purpose over the past two years. In addition, the Montreal Process released its first approximation report on implementation in 1997, which examines the relevance of the criteria and indicators to the individual countries.

Other recent developments include a review of the activities related to criteria and indicators for European forests at the Third Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (Lisbon, Portugal, June 1998). The ministers formally adopted the six Pan-European criteria for sustainable forest management and agreed to develop further the existing Pan-European indicators. The voluntary framework of recommendations for sustainable forest management for practical use (Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management) was endorsed, and a commitment was made to the implementation of further activities in support of the Helsinki Process. It is noteworthy that almost all the national reports presented at the Lisbon conference explicitly linked recent changes in their laws and institutions (many passed since 1993) to the Helsinki criteria. The formulation of the criteria for good forest management through the Helsinki Process seems to have resulted in the convergence of European countries regarding management goals and minimum standards.

ITTO, through an Expert Panel established in 1997 by ITTC, has revised its criteria for sustainable tropical forest management in line with recent trends and international developments in the field. ITTC finalized the draft document Criteria and indicators for the measurement of sustainable management of natural tropical forests in Libreville, Gabon in May 1998.

Activities at the forest management unit level

National and forest management unit (FMU) level criteria and indicators should be linked and compatible with one another to ensure consistency of approaches for improved forest management. A number of initiatives are under way to identify indicators at the FMU level, including the following.

The International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), in collaboration with FAO and CIFOR, organized an international conference, Fostering Stakeholder Input to Advance Development of Scientifically Based Indicators, in Melbourne, Australia in August 1998. The conference recommended ways of further developing scientifically based indicators for sustainable forest management at the FMU level.

While work has progressed rapidly on conceptualization, elaboration and testing of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management at the regional and ecoregional levels, with adaption at the national level, additional effort is needed in national- and subnational-level implementation of the criteria and indicators. Opportunities exist for increased cross-initiative support, in which the more experienced processes (i.e. Montreal, Pan-European) could provide additional advice and assistance to the more recent processes.


The G8 countries' action programme on forests

The Heads of State of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) first proposed the creation of an action programme on forests at their summit in Denver, United States in June 1997. It was subsequently approved at the next summit, held in Birmingham, United Kingdom in May 1998. The action programme commits the G8 countries to take action in five programme areas:

Model and demonstration forests

Within the framework of the International Model Forest Network, coordinated by Canada, "model forest areas" have been established in several countries, including Canada, Mexico, the Russian Federation and the United States. Argentina, Austria, Chile, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Karelia in the Russian Federation and Viet Nam are also in the process of establishing model forests. These forests, representing diverse environmental, social and economic conditions, provide an opportunity for comparing concepts and methods and for training in forest management. The network has continued to develop local indicators for assessing the effects of management actions and refining approaches to assessment of the costs and benefits of sustainable forest management.

Another network, which has similar objectives, has been developed by the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in the Central American region under the Demonstration Forest Management Areas initiative.

Eleventh World Forestry Congress

The eleventh World Forestry Congress, hosted by Turkey and organized by Turkey's Ministry of Forestry, was held in Antalya from 13 to 22 October 1997. The World Forestry Congress is held on average every six years, with the support of FAO, and serves as an important technical forum and benchmark for developments in the forestry sector. The eleventh congress represented the largest global forestry meeting ever held, attended by over 4 400 participants from 149 countries. The general theme was "Forestry for sustainable development: towards the twenty-first century". An informal Ministerial Meeting, attended by ministers of forestry or their representatives from over 50 countries, and three satellite meetings (conflict management, the role of forestry in combating desertification, and the seventeenth session of Silva Mediterranea) were held before the congress. The results of the congress are recorded in the Antalya Declaration (see Box 25) and in the conclusions and recommendations of the technical sessions.39


BOX 25
The Antalya Declaration

The Antalya Declaration, which was endorsed by the participants of the eleventh World Forestry Congress, called upon countries to demonstrate increased political will to overcome the obstacles to achieving sustainable forest management; upon forestry professionals to respond to the challenges to achieve sustainable forest management; and upon countries and the international donor community to mobilize financial resources and promote environmentally sound and appropriate technology transfer.

The Declaration stressed the importance of raising public awareness of the vital roles of forests to society and of the problems facing them. It supported the implementation of the IPF proposals for action and continued international forest policy dialogue. The Declaration called upon countries to adopt a more cross-sectoral approach to national policies, and to prepare and implement both national forest programmes and national plans for combating desertification. It endorsed improved integration of non-traded forest benefits into markets and the equitable distribution of related costs and benefits. It called for increased attention to the role of women and youth in forestry, and more open and participatory partnerships between all interested parties.

The Declaration called upon research organizations to identify and undertake priority research activities, upon countries to develop and apply national-level criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and to strengthen national forest inventory and monitoring systems, and upon forest industries to adopt and implement voluntary codes of conduct to contribute to sustainable forest management. It also called for strengthened programmes and supportive policy environments in many technical areas, including community forestry and agroforestry programmes, fast-growing tree plantations, prevention and response to wildfires, rehabilitation of degraded forest land, and conservation and use of biological diversity.


Silva Mediterranea: 50 years of regional forestry collaboration

Silva Mediterranea, which in 1998 celebrated its fiftieth year as an FAO statutory body, serves as an example of long-term regional collaboration in the forestry sector. As early as 1911 the idea of Mediterranean forestry cooperation was discussed, and in 1922 a Mediterranean forestry league was established under the name "Silva Mediterranea". In 1948, Silva Mediterranea evolved into a statutory body of FAO, officially called the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions. This committee, now consisting of 25 member countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the European Union, provides a mechanism for the Mediterranean countries to meet, share their experiences and set cooperative programmes. Among other activities, Silva Mediterranea has drafted a strategic framework - the Mediterranean Forest Action Programme - to assist Mediterranean countries in setting their forest policies. This body not only encourages coordinated efforts in the management of Mediterranean forests, but also helps raise their visibility, promoting awareness of their richness, fragility and susceptibility to threat.

International NGOs and private-sector initiatives

Private sector. Industry has reacted to the globalization of forestry and forest issues and heightened environmental awareness and concern in a number of ways. It is becoming increasingly involved in initiatives at the national, regional and global levels (e.g. IFF, FCCC) which are likely to have an impact on the forest industry's financial position and/or image. Industry is making significant voluntary efforts to be responsive to the demands of its customers and the public at large for improved management of the forests under its control and for environmentally sound manufacturing technologies. Companies' initiatives are being reported to the public and shareholders through company and industry reports. These voluntary initiatives represent an important contribution to efforts to achieve sustainable forest management and illustrate industry's efforts to be environmentally responsible. The following are three examples of private-sector actions.

Industry-led forest management programmes are appearing in many countries around the world. For example, the American Forest and Paper Association's Sustainable Forestry Initiative has set a recognized standard for the industry across the United States. In Canada, the industry has undertaken a programme aimed at biological diversity conservation through sound forest management and protection of endangered and threatened species. The private sector is also actively supporting sustainable forest management initiatives in various developing countries, as illustrated by some examples in Malaysia. The Malaysian Timber Council (MTC), although not directly responsible for the formulation of certification standards in Malaysia, is contributing to the government's certification efforts. MTC is representing the interests of the Malaysian timber industry and addressing the issues faced by the industry in moving towards sustainable forest management. BP Malaysia has adopted a nation-wide tree planting initiative, in line with the Malaysian national greening campaign. Free seedlings are being distributed with the objective of planting 3 million trees by the year 2000, while a number of parallel initiatives are being contracted out to private companies. In addition, private bodies, such as the Malaysian Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sponsor environmental awards to encourage improved environmental performance of Malaysian companies.

ISO 14001, one of the environmental management system standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to assist companies in improving their environmental performance, is rapidly being adopted by industry in various countries (both developed and developing). These standards apply to both forest operations and forest product manufacturing processes. When the ISO 14001 standard is combined with a framework for sustainable forest management, such as criteria and indicators of the Helsinki, Montreal and other regional processes (see preceding discussion in this section), it can become an important globally recognized platform for independently audited forest management certification. This is the conclusion of the ISO Working Group 2 report recently approved by ISO Technical Committee 207. An example of a certification system in line with this thinking is the Canadian Standard Association's system (CSA 808 and CSA 809). Other countries are moving in similar ways (see discussion on certification in Part I).

Industry representatives from around the world are meeting with greater frequency to exchange views and are working together through organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products and other less formal fora. Industry representatives recognize the need to portray their concerns in the international forest policy debate in a more concerted way, to the extent that financial considerations allow. There is no doubt, however, that the private sector will continue making progress towards responsible forest management, forest products production and trade.

NGOs. Non-governmental organizations are having an increasing influence on both global and national forest policy by shaping public opinion, engaging in field programmes and lobbying in decision-making fora. Conservation and rural development NGOs now represent the opinions of significant numbers of people in countries throughout the world. The NGOs vary widely, from North-based conservation NGOs with memberships numbering in the tens or hundreds of thousands, to poorly funded grassroots organizations in developing countries working on local issues that often concern human rights as much as forest conservation.

NGOs represent a wide range of opinions, from extremely radical to very conservative. Sometimes quite different NGOs collaborate. There have also been disagreements. For example, organizations interested in human rights and others working on wildlife conservation have differed over issues of indigenous people in protected areas.

Despite this diversity, there are some recognizable trends in approaches taken by NGOs. Since the early 1990s, attention has broadened from the tropics to temperate and boreal forests, and to a more general concern with sustainable forest management. Increasingly, NGOs are consciously trying to balance the needs of human populations with environmental concerns, and many are moving towards a solutions-based approach to forest conservation, rather than grounding their actions in opposition to aspects of current practices. As a result, new partnerships - some which would have seemed highly unlikely a decade ago - have arisen between NGOs and others, such as governments, private corporations and groups of forest dwellers. For example, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) recently spent two years drawing up a detailed picture of forests in the future and a strategy for realizing this vision, published as Forests for life (Dudley, Gilmour and Jeanrenaud, 1996). This strategy, which identifies clear targets for progress, has since received the backing of more than 20 governments (with respect to protected area targets), the World Bank and the G8 Summit in Denver, United States in June 1997. The recent signing of an agreement between WWF and the World Bank is a significant example of an alliance between apparently unlikely partners. The development of forest certification and the Forest Stewardship Council is another example in which NGOs have worked with forest industry and forest trade (traditional "enemies"), along with governments, forestry workers and indigenous people, on policies that can benefit all parties concerned.

Not all NGOs support this approach. There is currently considerable debate about the extent to which NGOs should ally themselves with other bodies (e.g. industry through forest certification) or should remain as "outsiders" to promote positive change. While some are seeking greater collaboration, others are intensifying direct action, such as groups blocking logging roads and occupying offices of companies importing endangered timber species. Some of these latter groups reject the more established NGOs. Another question is how much time to devote to international processes, such as CBD and IFF. Should NGOs become a part of the decision-making process or remain as a pressure on this process? The enormous variety of NGOs around the world ensures that different groups will continue to fill different roles.

The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development. The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (WCFSD), an independent body of 25 scientists, policy-makers and international specialists from the North and South, was established in 1995. In 1996 and 1997 WCFSD held regional public hearings in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Russian Federation to gain a better idea of perceptions about how forests should be managed, for what purposes and for whose benefit. The hearings, which involved representatives from a wide range of interest groups, focused on the political constraints to implementing policy reforms aimed at sustainable forest management and on the interactions among groups that determine forest management outcomes in the political arena. By involving civil society in the debate about global forests, the hearings have provided a useful complement to intergovernmental processes. The work of the commission concluded in 1998. Its report was due to be released in late 1998 or 1999.

36 The status of ratification of these international conventions and agreements is provided in Table 5 of Annex 3.
37 These include all projects which have been accepted, approved or endorsed. The forest-sector projects include those listed under the project types "afforestation", "reforestation" and "forest preservation", although some components of energy-sector projects may include forestry-related activities. The source of this information is the FCCC website:
38 Differences among the existing initiatives include the number of national-level criteria (from six in the Helsinki Process to eight in the Central America Process); the level of assessment considered (mostly national, but some initiatives include criteria and indicators for the forest management unit level and/or regional or global level); and the number and array of indicators.
39 The congress proceedings are available through FAO's website ( as well as on CD-ROM.

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