Forestry Committee puts emphasis on sustainable forest management


Forestry Committee puts emphasis on sustainable forest management

Sustainable forest management called "guiding principle" of forestry's future
The thirteenth session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) concluded its four-day meeting Thursday 13 March, agreeing that sustainable forest management should be the guiding principle of all future forestry sector activity.

Chaired by Mr Yvan Hardy of Canada, the meeting was attended by delegates from nearly 100 COFO member countries and by representatives from various UN agencies and programmes. Seven other FAO member countries, the Holy See and 11 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations sent observers.

The most significant endeavour in forestry since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janiero in 1992 has been the development of criteria and indicators to assess progress in sustainable forest management, according to the Committee.

In the context of overall support for sustainable forest management, the following priorities were endorsed by the Committee:

  • follow-up to key recommendations arising from the Intergovernmental Panel on Forestry (IPF) in those areas that fall within FAO's competence, such as the establishment of common key concepts and essential terms and definitions;
  • forest resources assessment (including strengthening the capacity of Member Nations to monitor and assess their own forest resources);
  • national forest programmes, again with a focus on building the capacities of Member Nations;
  • community forestry;
  • outlook studies and statistics; and
  • development of information on criteria and indicators that is transparent, scientifically sound and technically valid.

No consensus was reached concerning a global plan of action on forest genetic resources. Participants did agree, however, that concerted action is urgently needed to strengthen national, regional and international activities in the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources and to support the exchange of information and expertise. But efforts in this regard, according to the Committee, should be country-driven, since the most appropriate action varies according to environmental, social and economic circumstances, institutional and legal frameworks, and the prevailing needs and priorities of countries concerned.

A number of other areas of interest to specific countries or regions were also mentioned as priorities, including:

  • sustainable mountain development;
  • non-wood forest products;
  • plantations;
  • fuelwood;
  • forestry in dry zones and areas subject to desertification; and
  • support to research networks.

The Committee recommended that COFO and Regional Forestry Commissions involve representatives of NGOs and the private sector - including forest owners, industries, academic institutions and rural people, including women - in their meetings, programmes and activities.

The second issue of the FAO biennial report State of the World's Forests - an overview of conditions and trends in the world forestry situation - was presented to the Committee to put in context the discussions of the session.

The fourteenth COFO session will be held in Rome in the first half of 1999.

Other resources:

24 March 1997


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