Editorial - COFO 22 and World Forest Week 4
Forests and people: wood and beyond

Dear friends and colleagues,

The eve of this 22th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and 4th World Forest Week (WFW) is a time for both reflection and forward thinking. As we look back on our collective achievements and reflect on important lessons learned, we can also look ahead at opportunities to consolidate successes and find creative ways to translate forestry policies into sustainable practices.

Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department                  Read more

During five days of great synergy created by the presence of heads of forestry, forestry policymakers and partners from all over the world, we will be able to strengthen our partnerships and networks, establish new contacts and lay the foundations of new approaches to advance the sustainable management of all forest types, from tropical, temperate and boreal to range and drylands. This 22nd Session of COFO will be the first held under FAO’s new Strategic Framework, where the interlinkages between forestry, agriculture, and land and water management are being more clearly defined. While recognizing the importance of cross-sectoral activities, as exemplified by the active contributions of the Forest and Farm Facility to the International Year of Family Farming, it would be remiss of us to overlook the attention that forests and trees require as a sector if they are to be properly conserved and regenerated, valued for their environmental services and appreciated as the source of a natural material – wood – that can be transformed in many innovative ways. There is also greater public recognition that forests and trees do more than supply timber for construction; that they are also the source of livelihoods and food security and a means of addressing climate change. This thinking is reflected in the choice of theme for this year’s events:Forests and people: wood and beyond.

The provisional agenda covers many areas, and will be enriched by your contributions, including two important Heads of Forestry Dialogues. A high-level opening ceremony will set the tone for the week, followed by the launch of the latest edition of State of the World’s Forests, on the socioeconomic benefits from forests. This will provide visibility to an area in which data is relatively scarce, but once obtained and applied in coherent policy formulation would lead to more effective planning and programmes.

Discussions on FAO’s contributions to global processes will cover several international arrangements, and the activities of major partnerships and collaborative initiatives. Issues such as sustainable forest genetic management, deforestation and gender equality will also be addressed, as will the extent to which FAO Forestry’s statutory bodies are helping to define new policies and identify new trends and developments. Following their review of progress in programme implementation, COFO members will also be expected to identify FAO Forestry priorities for the coming biennium.

You will also see more examples of how the technical products, information and knowledge generated by FAO Forestry are being made more accessible through innovative communication tools to increase knowledge sharing and capacity building in all regions of the world.

This session of COFO will be the last before the confirmation of the post-2015 sustainable development goals and the XIV World Forestry Congress in September 2015. These are just two major global processes and events in which FAO pledges to play a full role in ensuring that forests and trees take their rightful place in international economic and development agenda.

I warmly encourage you to remain with us this week via the special COFO issues of inFO news and the webcasts of all COFO agenda items, which can be found at this link: http://www.fao.org/forestry/cofo2014/en/. In this way we can all share in the discussions and work that will help shape the next phase of a viable international agenda for sustainable forest management.

FAO Forestry news

Better managed forest genetic resources will reap major benefits for food security and climate change

With half of the world’s assessed forest species reported as being under threat of extinction or genetic erosion, the need for better management of forest genetic resources is compelling. The first report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources explains why rigorous data gathering, research, conservation and sustainable management is needed and the potential consequences of a lack of coherent action.

Read more about FAO’s work on forest genetic resources, including the first report on The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources and the Global Plan of Action, and listen to an audio interview with FAO's Albert Nikiema.

© Maria Francesca Matawaran – Youth for a greener future – Philippines

FAO reiterates support to North American forest sector

The heads of forestry of Canada, Mexico and the USA recently met with FAO Forestry officials at the North American Forest Commission’s (NAFC) 27th Session. Eduardo Rojas recalled that FAO’s technical expertise in climate change, forest fires, forest inventory and urban forestry and the region’s substantial forestry knowledge offered opportunities for increased partnering on challenges facing NAFC member countries and those in other regions. 
Read the interview with Mr. Nick Nelson, Director of FAO’s Liaison Office for North America in Washington, D.C., on his impressions of the meeting, held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, 11–13 June.

Helping the Committee on World Food Security meet its objectives

The Committee on World Food Security’s online invitation to help select and prioritize its activities for 2016–2017 saw inputs from two FAO Forestry staff. Petra Wolter's “Understanding food security in mountains” and Laura Jin’s “The role of sustainable forests for food security and nutrition” provide perspectives that could help inform the Committee’s debates and action on global food security.

Read FAO Forestry staff’s contributions to the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition discussion posted on 20 May 2014.

Moringa oliefera: the miracle tree 

Revered by local communities in Africa and Asia for its outstanding health and nutritional values, Moringa oliefera is a star among trees. Since the 1990s FAO has promoted Moringa in participatory agroforestry programmes and more recently as an intercropping species in post-Haiyan recovery in the Philippines and in a collaborative food and nutrition programme in the SNNPR region in Ethiopia.

Read the description of Moringa oliefera.

Bio-based packaging “white paper” seeks  to reduce food loss and waste sustainably 

FAO Forestry and partners recently presented a draft “white paper” to promote more sustainable and locally inclusive bio-based packaging solutions to reduce loss and waste in food and packaging chains. A 12-month roadmap prepared for an FAO-led international coalition on “Bio-based Packaging – a Green Food Saver” will articulate the next steps towards more responsible food packaging and distribution.

Read more about FAO’s bio-based packing initiative and the white paper presented at the Interpack 2014 special event at the Düsseldorf Fair in Germany in May 2014.

Nurturing green growth in Southern Africa’s forest sector 

FAO is supporting green jobs creation in Southern Africa through education and skills upgrading in the forest sector. FAO Zambia is organizing group training for forest growers and saw millers under a “Green Jobs” programme, while the Subregional Office for Southern Africa and FAO Forestry at HQ are partnering with UNIDO on a Finnish-funded programme to revitalize the sub-region’s forest training centres.

Read more about Zambia’s “Green Jobs” programme and the FAO-United Nations Industrial Development Organization-Southern Africa Development Community training centres programme.

Turkey and FAO: partnering on regional sustainable forest and tree management

A recently signed partnership agreement between FAO and the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs marks a new phase of collaboration in sustainable forest and tree management in Central Asia and North Africa. Project implementation premised on increasing institutional capacity will allow Turkey’s technical expertise to be shared more widely in the region, with benefits also for food security and climate change.

Read more about the FAO-Turkey partnership agreement.  

H.E. Veysel Eroglu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, Republic of Turkey, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO

Global news

Insects can help feed the world, international conference concludes 

In May, 450 participants at a conference in the Netherlands, co-organized by Wageningen University and Research Centre and FAO, learned a lot more about “Insects to feed the world”. Feed industry leaders, insect breeders, universities, NGOs and other stakeholders gathered for this first-ever event and left with a clear message: insects for feed and food are viable solutions for the protein deficit problem. 

Read more about the Ede conference and its main conclusions.

World Day to Combat Desertification 2014  

On 17 June, at its headquarters in Rome, FAO gathered with the Global Mechanism of UNCCD, Italy and Kuwait to scale up efforts to combat desertification. Citing collaborative arrangements in the Sahara, Sahel and Mediterranean, and the launch at COFO 22 of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism, where drylands will feature strongly, FAO’s Maria-Helena Semedo stressed that multistakeholder engagement in sustainable land management was the key to success in halting and reversing desertification and increasing resilience.

Read the statement of Ms Maria-Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources and the FAO press release here and find more information below on:

• FAO’s work on arid zone forestry
• The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative
• The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

Honouring Wangari Maathai: deadline extended for nominations for 2014 award 

In 2012, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests recognized the extraordinary achievements of the late Wangari Maathai by establishing an award in her honour. The 2nd recipient of the US$20 000 prize will be recognized for her/his outstanding contribution to sustainable forest management and to increasing awareness of forests’ multiple roles and benefits at the 24th IUFRO Congress in October.  The deadline for nominations for the 2014 Wangari Maathai award has been extended until 4 July 2014. Full details are available here in EnglishFrench and Spanish.

Upcoming meetings and events

United Nations

Collaborative Partnership on Forestsevents calendar, including:

New publications


The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources

FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific 

Edible insects in LAO PDR: building on tradition to enhance food security

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last updated:  Sunday, June 22, 2014