FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

The Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) is dedicated to discussing and analyzing forestry issues and key problems of regional significance to promote environmentally sound, socially acceptable and economically efficient forest management practices.

It strives to encourage implementation of appropriate policies in line with changing trends in forestry. Participation and decision-making by member countries is a cornerstone on which policies and operations of the APFC are based.

Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC)

Created in 1949, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) is one of six FAO Regional Forestry Commissions. APFC is a forum for advising and taking action on key forestry issues in a region of diversity and rapid change. The Commission meets every two years to review progress, discuss problems and set new agendas. Balancing technical and policy issues, the objectives of APFC are to provide advice on forest policy formulation; review and coordinate implementation of forest policy at the regional level; exchange information on suitable practices and solutions for technical problems; and develop and support appropriate recommendations for member governments and FAO.

Membership of the Commission

The Commission’s original membership of 12 countries has grown to 34. Current members include Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and the United Kingdom (observer status).

The state of forestry in Asia and the Pacific: challenges and opportunities

Asia and the Pacific is covered by 740 million hectares of forests, accounting for 26 percent of the region's land area, and 18 percent of global forest cover. On a per capita basis, Asia- Pacific is the least forested region in the world. However, an annual regional loss of over 0.7 million hectares of forests from 1990 to 2000 has reversed to an annual increase of 2.3 million hectares during 2000 to 2005. Between 2005 and 2010, the rate of increase declined to under 0.5 million hectares per year.

Notwithstanding the positive trend in forest area at the aggregate level, forest degradation and declining health and vitality remain the hidden problems confronting Asia-Pacific forests.

Despite a wide range of supporting initiatives and much discussion, implementation of sustainable forest management continues to be a challenge.

Forests provide homes and sources of livelihoods to hundreds of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific. They are also generators of national wealth and economic advancement: the annual value of trade in primary forest products in the region exceeds US$90 billion.

What APFC does in the region

APFC focuses on three main areas of work:

Improvement in forest management for multiple benefits

Improvement in forest management for multiple benefits

The Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network (APFISN) was established in response to the costs and dangers posed by invasive species to the sustainable management of forests.

The network focuses on inter-country cooperation to detect, prevent, monitor, eradicate and/or control forest invasive species in the region.

The network helps raise awareness of invasive species, define and develop organizational structures, build capacity within member countries, and develop and share databases and information.

Through its Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management, the APFC developed the Code of Practice for Forestry Harvesting in Asia-Pacific, which has served as a model for the formulation of national codes in 14 countries. FAO and APFC, working with other partners, have supported training for effective implementation of national codes, awareness raising, formulation of guidelines for reduced impact logging, technical exchange, and review and revision of codes as required.

The In search of excellence initiative documented 28 cases that illustrate best practices in various contexts and scales, and advanced understanding of what constitutes good forest management. 

Policy, economics and institutions

Policy, economics and institutions

The Asia-Pacific Forest Policy Think Tank strives to strengthen forest policy processes in the region by organizing and facilitating forest policy short courses, policy studies, capacity building, formulation of policy briefs, and network development and management.

The second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS II) was a wide-ranging, multi-year initiative that gathered data and information, examined regional forest and forestry trends and issues, and analyzed implications for forestry in the region to 2020. The findings and recommendations of APFSOS II form the foundation for continuing APFC-supported strategic planning workshops, policy short courses, and on-going policy and regulatory review and reform. 

Involvement of people in forestry

Involvement of people in forestry

APFC member countries have committed to improving governance in the forest sector through more effective policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, strengthening the capacity of civil society, the private sector and government forestry agencies to manage forest resources and processes in more transparent and participatory ways, clarifying and enforcing forest tenure and access rights, and sharing knowledge on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) processes.

APFC member countries give high priority to climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and actions. FAO supports APFC members in developing capacity for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) implementation, formulating strategies, implementing forest management in light of climate change, and establishing national forest monitoring systems. Experiences and expertise are shared through workshops, training courses and consultations. Post-UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (CoP) consultations have synthesized expert views on the implications for the Asia-Pacific forestry sector of CoP decisions.

The Asia-Pacific Forestry Communications Network strives to enhance forestry communications across the region. The network links forestry experts from government agencies and non-governmental organizations to share best practices, media contacts, information and knowledge, and collaborate on research initiatives and shared outreach activities.