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FAO forestry

FAO activities in support of sustainable mountain development since UNCED

Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the subsequent designation of FAO as Task Manager of Agenda 21 Chapter 13, Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development, FAO has given relatively greater importance to mountain ecosystems in its activities. The role of Task Manager includes reporting to the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) on the implementation of Agenda 21, strengthening information exchange, catalysing joint activities and programmes, promoting interagency cooperation and common strategies.

FAO has been involved for many years in human development and natural resource management and conservation activities in mountain areas worldwide through programmes in forestry, agriculture, fisheries, social affairs, sustainable development and information. FAO's Field Programme has a long history of providing technical assistance in soil and water conservation, forestry and related activities in upland regions.

The Interagency Group on Mountains, created and coordinated by FAO, has been an important mechanism for fostering the partnerships which have been so important in moving ahead on mountain issues. Not only have UN agencies been party to this interagency group but, from its inception, and increasingly with time, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have participated as full members and played a proactive role in developing initiatives, promoting local, national and regional organizations and participating in international-level networking. Among these, The Mountain Institute, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the United Nations University (UNU) have played a pioneering role and, in collaboration with FAO, have established the Mountain Forum, an international confederation of mountain networks (see article on p. 13 in this issue of Unasylva).

There has been strong interest on the part of many governments, as evidenced by their organization of and attendance at regional intergovernmental consultations for Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu (1994), for Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru (1995), for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1996) and for Europe, where the first session was held in Aviemore, Scotland (1996) and the second session in Trento, Italy (1996). NGO consultations were held in India (1994), Peru (1995) and France (1996). FAO participated in and supported most of these meetings (FAO, 1998; Sène and McGuire, 1997).

Examples of mountain-related initiatives of the FAO Field Programme

· The Interregional Programme for Participatory Upland Development and Conservation in Bolivia, Burundi, Nepal, Pakistan and Tunisia, 1992-97. The programme aims at developing and testing participatory methodologies for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities in sustainable mountain development. The third phase (1998-99) aims at consolidating the institutionalization of the participatory approach in managing mountain watersheds.

· The Fouta Djallon - supported initiatives. A number of countries in West Africa largely depend on water resources draining from the Fouta Djallon mountain range in Guinea. During the last two decades, FAO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been involved in a series of multidonor projects aimed at the conservation and development of natural resources in the Fouta Djallon mountains, and the promotion of community development. The many phases have concentrated on promoting conservation activities in the management and protection of water sources, soil erosion control practices, conservation of remnant natural vegetation and food security-related activities at the local level.

· A cluster of watershed management projects in the Hindu Kush Himalaya, including implementation of field activities, protected area management, training curricula development and networking activities.

· Definition of strategies and policies for sustainable development of mountain areas in Mexico. FAO is currently supporting and collaborating with the Government of Mexico for the design of policies and strategies for participatory planning and management of sustainable development in mountain areas. Activities include: national planning for the sustainable development of mountain areas; the provision of structured information on technical experiences and existing human resources in the rehabilitation and management of mountain areas; and support to and training of farmer communities in various aspects related to participatory planning, extension and resource conservation.

· Alternatives to poppy cultivation. In Colombia, FAO is collaborating with the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in the preparation of a rural development project which, through a number of activities, would support communities in areas affected by poppy cultivation. Activities include: community nurseries; multipurpose forestry and agroforestry plantations; protection of watersheds and riverbeds; management of natural forests; recuperation and conservation of soils; and development of small forestry enterprises and marketing systems.

· Pilot Project for the Management of Watersheds in Morocco. Morocco was an early adopter of the International Scheme for Conservation and Rehabilitation of African Lands (ISCRAL) promoted by the Land and Water Development Division of FAO. The scheme was seen as a useful framework for organizing Morocco's soil and water conservation sector in the light of dryland environmental concerns. A partnership agreement was drawn up in 1997 between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Land Management and FAO; a series of workshops were planned in the preparation of a pilot management plan for the conservation of rainfed croplands. Although FAO is providing some funds for workshop contributions, with additional advice, most of the funds and effort are made available by Morocco.

Recent FAO activities to support the implementation of Chapter 13 include:

· A review of the implementation of Chapter 13. FAO has helped to expand the scope of the Rio+5 report on Chapter 13. The document reviews the implementation of Chapter 13 from UNCED to the end of 1997. The document is accessible on the Web site of the FAO Mountain Programme (see below).

· FAO, with the active participation of the Portuguese co-chair, has organized the 21st session of the European Forestry Commission's Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds being held in Marienbad, Czech Republic in October 1998. The main theme is Integrated Watershed Management. The Working Party was selected by the Helsinki Ministerial Meeting as a facilitating forum to implement Strasbourg Resolution S4 - Adapting the Management of Mountain Forests to New Environmental Conditions: During the twenty-first session, an FAO/International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) Symposium was held - From Debris Source to Bedload Management in Torrents.

· Contributing to regional and international cooperation and networking:

i) Support to regional initiatives. Many meetings related to upland watershed and sustainable mountain development have been organized. FAO has supported a number of these in collaboration with other organizations such as UNESCO.

ii) Continued cooperation with the Mountain Forum. FAO will continue to participate in the activities of the Mountain Forum, including developments of the North American and European Nodes and the creation and development of the African Node, in cooperation with the Mountain Forum, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners.

· An Internet site, FAO Mountain Programme, has been established to provide and disseminate information on Chapter 13, FAO projects, issues and publications. The Web site has links with other relevant sites. A list of mountain-related meetings for 1998-99 is updated regularly. FAO Mountain Programme can be visited at:*/mountain/mntpag3.htm

Future questions

New directions and mechanisms for the implementation and follow-up of Agenda 21 were established during the UN General Assembly Special Session in July 1997. They include newly defined sectoral and cross-sectoral themes that will be the focus of attention over the next five years. Issues such as freshwater, integrated planning and management of land resources, transfer of technology, energy and others will be reported on annually, with input provided by Chapter 13 and other chapters as appropriate.

In 1997, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic proposed that the United Nations proclaim an International Year of the Mountains. This proposal was supported by 43 countries and subsequently approved by the 37th plenary meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as Resolution 1997/45. The final decision on proclaiming such a year lies with the UN General Assembly.

FAO is planning to hold a global meeting on sustainable mountain development to follow up on the various regional and international mountain experiences. Plans for the global mountain meeting will depend on the modalities and timing of an eventual International Year of the Mountains.


CSD. 1998. Multi-year programme of work- 1998-2002. Downloaded from the Sustainable Development Web site, under the Department of Economic and Social Development (UN DESA). New York, USA, Commission on Sustainable Development.

FAO. 1998. Implementation of Chapter 13 from 1992 to 1997. Report. By M. Price. Rome.

Sène, E.H. & McGuire, D. 1997. Sustainable mountain development - Chapter 13 in action. In B. Messerli & J.D. Ives, eds. Mountains of the world: a global priority. Carnforth, UK and New York, USA, Parthenon Publishing Group.

FAO Latin American regional workshop focuses on resource mobilization and national forest programmes

New mechanisms and opportunities to mobilize resources for forestry presented by the Kyoto Protocol were explored at the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (RLC) Workshop on International Cooperation and Resource Mobilization, held in Santiago, Chile from 3 to 5 June 1998.

Organized in cooperation with the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the main objectives of the workshop were: to discuss methods of collaboration for resource mobilization for sustainable forest management (SFM) in the region; and to disseminate information on the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF/CSD) recommendations for action with reference to national forest programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The workshop, funded by the FAO regional project Support to the National Forest Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, was attended by participants from more than 25 countries, representatives of donor governments and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Forest Service of the Netherlands, the French National Forestry Office, the Finnish Cooperation, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Central American Council on Forests and Protected Areas (CCAB-AP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The participants divided into two working groups: one focused on new mechanisms of resource mobilization for the management and conservation of forests while the other concentrated on mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration in support of national forest programmes.

New mechanisms of resource mobilization

The first group discussed the new mechanisms of resource mobilization presented by the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC), the first legally binding protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Protocol includes policies and measures on: promotion of sustainable forest management practices, afforestation and reforestation; and involvement of international organizations and individual governments in its implementation.

The participants urged the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to sign and ratify the Protocol, and also advocated taking an active part in the work of the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) meeting to be held in Buenos Aires in November 1998. Recommendations were made requesting the FAO Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (LACFC) to include the Kyoto Protocol in the agenda of its next session (Havana, Cuba, September 1998).

The group supported the proposal made by the Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean at the meeting in Lima, Peru in May 1998 to launch the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM - Article 12, Kyoto Protocol). The purpose of CDM is to assist countries in achieving sustainable development.

United Nations agencies and other international organizations were requested to continue providing technical and economic support to Latin America and the Caribbean to enable the region to participate adequately in the development of global market systems which limit or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The delegates encouraged FAO to play a more active role in this area and to continue the dissemination of the relevant information on techniques and mitigation strategies of greenhouse effects.

The group recommended that the governments of the region introduce fiscal policies with a "polluter-payer" principle. Application of this principle would obtain compensation from contaminating industries in order to finance the projects of conservation and sustainable management of forest resources.

Support to national forest programmes

The second group stressed that national forest programmes be used as tools for the implementation of the IPF proposals for action. The participants pointed out the need for national, regional and international levels of coordination of these programmes.

Strengthening existing mechanisms to raise national forest programmes on the policy agenda, ensuring broad and equal participation of the principal actors and the creation of a permanent forum for dialogue and conflict resolution were identified as the key issues at the national level.

The participants stressed the need for better regional coordination. The group recommended that LACFC become one of the leading mechanisms in supporting national forest programmes while the FAO regional project Support to the National Forest Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean should continue to play a significant role in the exchange of information and technology.

At the international level, the workshop considered the establishment of an informal group of representatives from Latin American countries and the international bodies present in the region to be a high priority. This group would meet once a year at the same time as either LACFC sessions or other important forestry events and would serve as a permanent forum for discussion, evaluation and analysis of national forest programmes and their implementation.

Before the closure of the workshop, delegates stressed the importance of countries including forestry sector issues in their national political agendas to help mobilize resources for the better utilization and conservation of forest resources. They also urged FAO to analyse and evaluate the plans which would strengthen national forest programmes through the FAO regional project.

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