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Updating forestry education

Society's attitudes towards forests and forestry have changed as awareness of the many values of forests has increased. These changes have resulted in an observable evolution in the forestry sector, particularly in forest science; education systems and information and communication technologies; forest management practices and technologies; job markets and stakeholders; and global conventions and forest policies. Forestry education must adapt to these changes in order to provide foresters with the knowledge, abilities and attitudes necessary to ensure the future sustainability of the world's forests.

An Expert Consultation on Forestry Education, organized by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Forests of Morocco, was held from 17 to 19 October 2001 in Rabat, Morocco. The main objective was to discuss the current status of forestry education, global changes in the forestry sector and the implications of these changes for new profiles of foresters. The 30 participants included nine invited experts from educational and research institutions in Chile, Costa Rica, France, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Also attending were resource persons and observers from a number of international organizations and several Moroccan institutions.

The Consultation developed a number of recommendations for FAO and its member countries, which were grouped into four sections:

The meeting concluded that forestry education, as an integral part of national forest programmes, should address the need for an integrated approach at the technical and policy levels towards management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. It should give attention to the link between forestry and agricultural sustainability, and more specifically to the role of forestry in food security, income generation and the livelihoods of different sectors of society.

FAO, governments, public and private institutions with an interest in forestry education, and non-governmental organizations should have key roles in these processes.


Law compliance in the forest sector

There is little hope of achieving sustainable forest management in environments affected by widespread corruption and other illegal acts. Illegal and corrupt forest practices occur in all major forest types. They include not only illegal logging but also unauthorized occupation of forest lands, logging in protected areas, harvesting protected species of trees, woodland arson, wildlife poaching, unauthorized processing of forest products, unlawful timber transport, timber smuggling, bribery of government officials and fraudulent accounting practices. Forest crime reduces the value of forest resources, hurts the poor and deprives governments of revenues that might otherwise be used to promote sustainable forest management.

The Expert Meeting on Policy Options for Improving Law Compliance in the Forest Sector was convened to discuss the main possible causes of illegal acts and policy options for handling them, selected mechanisms for implementing remedial policies and the potential role of international actors, particularly FAO. Held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 14 to 16 January 2002, the meeting was attended by some 50 international experts from the World Bank, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), FAO and experts from government, forest industries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in combating corruption and in promoting governance, sustainable forestry, industrial operations and trade.

The meeting identified the following root causes of illegal activity, towards which policy measures should be targeted.

Two primary mechanisms were identified for reform in combating forest crime. The first is the formation of coalitions. It is unlikely that governments alone will be able to control forest crime. Given the right incentives, many stakeholders (for example, national, regional and local governments, local communities, the forest industry, forest product retailers, consumers, certification bodies, NGOs, financing and technical agencies and the media) can contribute to preventing, detecting and suppressing illegal acts. Ideally, they should act in a concerted fashion.

The second mechanism involves institutional systems for improved prevention, detection and suppression of forest crime. A key factor in the effectiveness of these systems is a high level of public awareness of the differences between legal and illegal forest activities and on the capacity to track forest products movements. The advantages and disadvantages of modern log tracking technologies should be researched, especially for consideration in countries where financial and human resources are scarce.

In this context, the meeting recommended that FAO contribute to improving law enforcement in the forest sector through:


Enhancing the contribution of trees outside forests to sustainable livelihoods

An Expert Consultation on Trees Outside Forests, held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 26 to 28 November 2001, recognized the growing importance of trees outside forests, especially in light of their role in addressing desertification and land degradation processes and improving livelihoods.

The 15 experts and resource persons attending reviewed the concept and definition of trees outside forests and their role in sustainable livelihoods, food security, environmental protection and biological diversity conservation. The Consultation also took stock of previous activities, including national consultations and case studies carried out worldwide and national workshops held in Africa (United Republic of Tanzania), Asia (India), Europe (France) and Latin America (Venezuela) with assistance from FAO and partners.

The participants recommended some specific revisions to the present FAO definition of trees outside forests, particularly in reference to minimal surface area, crown cover, tree height and species. They recommended that the definition of trees outside forests be based on the functions of trees, geographical situations, cultural considerations, economic considerations and social considerations.

The Consultation reviewed the progress made in resource assessment methodology. It noted that there was little systematic information on the magnitude of these tree resources in relation to their production and service values. These values should be fully recognized and integrated into national and international policies and international conventions and agreements, including those dealing with biodiversity conservation, carbon fixation, soil and water conservation, combating desertification and urban greening.

Other issues to tackle were lack of well-defined policies related to trees outside forests, inadequate incentives for planting, managing and conserving trees outside forests, extreme diversity in land-use situations and the inadequacy of existing forestry codes in addressing these resources.

The participants recommended that more attention be given to various tree tenure systems, in both the formal and informal sectors, for more efficient use of trees outside forests; that studies (for example, country case studies) be undertaken to obviate the lack of systematic information on trees outside forests; and that FAO take the lead in raising awareness of the role of trees outside forests through the organization of regional and subregional workshops and meetings on policy issues.

Cross-sectoral policy impacts in forestry

The international dialogue on forests and national forest programmes has led to recognition that the impacts of external policy on sustainable forest management are often greater than those of policy within the forest sector itself. In addition, forest policy has impacts on many related areas including rural development, the natural environment and the livelihoods of rural and urban people. The FAO Forestry Department is undertaking a programme of work concerning cross-sectoral policy impacts in forestry.

The objectives of the work are to:

The FAO Forestry Department has recently launched a new cross-sectoral policy impacts Web site to provide information on this ongoing effort:

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