The first meeting on harmonizing forest-related definitions held here in Rome in January this year indicated that the current definitions related to the Kyoto Protocol and the Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) are largely compatible in spite of some inconsistencies. In order to improve the comparability between the two sets of definitions, the Meeting recommended the following:
• Parties to the Protocol may wish to consider, in the second or subsequent commitment period, dropping the requirement of a 50-year non-forest condition for afforestation. This would eliminate the need for a definition of reforestation distinct from that of afforestation and bring the KP afforestation figures into closer agreement with the FRA results.
• FAO should take action to ensure that all the relevant bodies are aware of the final version of forest-related definitions of FRA 2000 and of the long international process in which they were derived
• FAO may wish to consider expanding the FRA definition of afforestation (i) to include assisted regeneration not involving direct seeding or planting; and (ii) to differentiate direct human-induced deforestation and permanent forest loss due to other causes. This would make the FRA data compatible with the needs of the Kyoto Protocol;
• In deciding about adopting the AHTEG definition of forests, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) may wish to verify that it is using the FRA 2000 definitions of afforestation and reforestation correctly.
The Expert Meeting made the following recommendations for follow-up action:
(i) The process of harmonizing forest-related definitions should be continued and completed urgently under the umbrella of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), with FAO acting as the secretariat, in cooperation with IPCC, IUFRO, CIFOR and the Secretariats of the CBD and UNFCCC.
(ii) Other stakeholders should be invited to participate in the process, including those who have not yet been part of the process (e.g., ILO).
(iii) The results of the Meeting (the Meeting Report and the Discussion Paper) should be transmitted by FAO to the interested parties, including the international and regional C&I processes. In particular the following meetings should be informed: COP-6 of CBD, IPCC meetings on Good Practice Guidance, and the Kotka IV meeting on FRA.
(iv) A Task Force of knowledgeable experts should be formed without delay to plan and implement identified follow-up work.
(v) FAO, in cooperation with the Task Force, should prepare a comprehensive analytical framework, including compilation and analysis of similarities and differences between different definitions and their relationships, in order to facilitate the follow-up process.
(vi) The draft report on the framework should be submitted to the participants of the Meeting and other experts for review and comment. Based on the comments received, the final version would be prepared.
(vii) A second Expert Meeting should be arranged, preferably in June 2002. The Meeting should review the report on the framework and decide on further action that may be required to harmonize forest-related definitions.
As we have learnt this morning, a number of other processes are connected with this meeting in one way or another, such as:
• the Kotka process led by FAO (about which we will hear later);
• the UNFCCC/SBSTA process on developing definitions for afforestation and reforestation under article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol;
• the IPPC- led process on Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF (task1);
• the IPCC task 2 on developing definitions for human-induced `degradation' of forests and `devegetation' of other vegetation types and methodological options to inventory and report on emissions resulting from these activities
• the work of the CPF Task Force on harmonizing and streamlining Forest-related reporting.
• IUFRO's recent work on forest terminology, e.g. on urban forestry, electronic discussion groups on key terms, and terminological awareness
We hope to avoid diverging results, e.g. with IPCC tasks through mutual participation in the processes, and through sharing ideas via regular reporting.
The June SBSTA 16 of UNFCCC and major Parties have recognized the work of the expert group. They have recommended close cooperation of IPCC with FAO. The output of our definitions process will be considered by the SBSTA in its work on defining afforestation and reforestation under the CDM.
As agreed upon during the first expert meeting in January, FAO has prepared, with the help of a consultant, a draft analytical framework, which has been circulated and will be presented later this morning. During this meeting we will discuss this draft framework further.
The objective of the meeting is to recommend options for harmonizing forest-related definitions, and thus contribute towards improving efficiency of processes in different international policy fora related to forests.
It has to be stated clearly that harmonization does not mean standardization. Harmonization can include adjustments for improved compatibility and consistency, establishing comparability, linkages and hierarchies between terms, but also documenting differences.
The field of forest-related definitions is wide. The first meeting agreed upon a series of core definitions to be tackled, such as:
Forest, forest land, other wooded land, afforestation, reforestation, deforestation, forest degradation, forest improvement, devegetation, revegetation, forest management, forest type, forest ecosystem, biome.
Additionally, some supporting terms and concepts should be looked at, such as:
Forest rehabilitation, forest restoration, forest fragmentation, natural expansion of forest, natural regeneration, assisted regeneration, primary forest, natural forest, virgin forest, semi-natural forest, secondary forest, regenerated forest, plantation forest, old growth forest, young forest, trees outside forest, low forest cover, natural seed sources, natural causes.
A further group of terms relates to the Kyoto Protocol and the Good Practice Guidance for assessing, reporting and accounting carbon stock changes, which urgently require harmonization, e.g. biomass, density and expansion or conversion factors. We may not be able to work on these definitions during this meeting. Nevertheless, there may be a window of opportunity now to avoid a profusion of conflicting or ambiguous terms later. We wanted to bring this issue to your attention and, for this purpose, have distributed a brief compilation of terms to be tackled in this context. In case there is time, we could devote some space to discuss this issue further on Friday.
The expected result of this meeting is a list of options/recommendations on how to deal with the different forest-related definitions to be submitted to different international fora, like the Subsidiary Bodies of CBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC, UNFF, COFO and others.
Mechanics of the Meeting
As was the case during the last meeting, it is suggested to split the plenary into four working groups, each of which should discuss the definitions falling under one of the following groupings:
• Forest and change processes between forest and
• Classification of forests
• Forest management and forest condition
• Change processes within forests
It is obvious that many terms are interconnected, and interchange amongst the groups would be required. Some terms like reforestation and forest fragmentation reappear even under different headings.
As you can deduct from the Agenda, we intend to spend a fair amount of time in the different working groups, but need to touch base in-between to take stock about progress. The major part of Friday is supposed to be used for finalizing the results in plenary.