Daily coverage:

Committee on Forestry - COFO
16 session

Rome, Italy, 10-14 March 2003

ENB Summary




17 March




Wulf Killmann

Motsamai Nkozi

Navaan-Yunden Oyundar

Arvids Ozols

Tuesday, 11 March

COFO discussed the role of Regional Forestry Commissions (RFCs)

Director of the Forests Products Division Wulf Killmann introduced the RFCs highlighting their commonalities, region-specific approaches and diversities, and emphasized their role in bringing issues to the attention of policy-makers. He invited a panel of RFC representatives to address the role of RFCs in implementing SFM.

On the role of the RFCs in helping countries implement IPF/IFF proposals for actions, the representative of the Latin America and Caribbean RFC Jorge Menéndez (Argentina) said that the RFCs are a natural mechanism for dialogue established to avoid duplication; promote best regional practices on resource management; and facilitate interaction between international and national bodies and the private sector.

Listen to Jorge Menéndez

The representative of the RFC for Africa Motsamai Nkozi (South Africa) said that RFCs promote international interaction to implement IPF/IFF proposals, providing vital regional coordination. They have the capacity for economic spin-off to allow poverty alleviation. RFCs also disseminate information and analysis to region and member countries, and should promote research and development mechanisms related to forests.

Listen to Motsamai Nkozi

On the role of RFCs in addressing issues in collaboration with COFO, the representative of the Asia-Pacific RFC Navaan-Yunden Oyundar (Mongolia) said that there are many common concerns both within regions and among them, such as plantation incentives, illegal logging, forest fires, invasive species and pests.

Listen to Navann-Yunden Oyundar

The representative of the European RFC Arvids Ozols (Latvia) said that the RFCs facilitate cross-sectoral information-sharing on technical and policy issues.

Listen to Arvids Ozols

On regional action for SFM, the representative of the Near East RFC Hassan Abdel Nour (Egypt) said that the RFCs should publicize successful SFM; promote cooperation on regional and subregional management; and strengthen research through development of education curricula.

Listen to Hassan Abdel Nour

The representative of the RFC for North America Alberto Cadenas Jimenes (Mexico) said that RFCs need to promote cross-sectoral interaction to improve linkages between the forestry sector and others, and can implement the WSSD call to integrate all basic human requirements by increasing public awareness of SFM.

Listen to Alberto Cadenas Jimenes

Hassan Abdel Nour

Alberto Cadenas Jimenes

Delegates’ discussion of the RFCs’ role

On the role of RFCs in implementing the IPF/IFF proposals for action Norway said RFCs could be used to strengthen regional cooperation.

India emphasized the importance of disseminating information about RFCs at the grassroots level.

Greece, on behalf of European community and its member States, stressed the need for FAO’s Medium- and Long-Term Plans to incorporate concrete strategies for collaboration between the RFCs and other regional forest processes.

The Republic of the Congo underscored the need for RFCs to consider other organizational activities in the regions and subregions, such as those undertaken by the African Timber Organization.

The Philippines said the RFCs should aim to: raise awareness about certification; improve effective watershed management; develop regional cooperation on illegal logging; assess social and environmental costs of illegal logging; develop basic guidelines for incentive systems; and develop means for effective implementation of these measures.

Brazil noted that the RFCs are a useful tool to devising forest law enhancement at the national level.

The Republic of Korea suggested a measured approach, prioritizing IPF/IFF proposals for action in accordance with gaps identified at the national level.

Listen to Korea

Senegal said that RFC officers should take part in international events.

Expressing hope that the RFCs would continue to divulge technical knowledge, China said the FAO should focus on mobilizing funds and technology to assist in drawing up forest management plans.

Sudan stressed that combating illegal logging needs more institutional and financial support from the RFC. Algeria proposed that RFCs could be strengthened with the support of national forestry programme experts.

Peru urged for improving efficiency of RFCs by strengthening regional and subregional working groups.

Addressing the role of the FAO, Norway said FAO should collaborate closely with regional bodies to: enhance and provide information on Forest Resource Assessments (FRAs) and forest outlook studies, implement proposals for action, and support inter-sessional activities.

Listen to Norway

Japan said there was a need for clarification of institutional roles between FAO, COFO, and RFCs. He also stressed the importance of decentralizing budgets and activities.

Kenya urged FAO to focus on strategies for early warning and rapid responses.

The Slovak Republic stressed the need to examine the direction of forestry education and proposed that FAO lead a global consultation on forestry education.

The US said FAO should continue to support capacity-building through workshops, technical support and policy guidance; and maintain its leaderships role in the UNFF and the collaborative partnership on forests.

Listen to the US

Australia supported by Malaysia, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea proposed that an Asia-Pacific regional workshop be held to identify regional priorities and potential projects. He also proposed the formation of an expert group to conduct an assessment of regional priorities and implementation capacity.

Malaysia suggested that workshop themes include traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights; monitoring and assessment; valuation of forest products; and the social and economic impacts of trade related measures.

New Zealand noted that a major challenge remained in harmonizing forest-related definitions and called for clarity across the board. Canada urged the FAO to work with the RFCs to disseminate information to COFO member countries through RFC web sites.

Uganda and Sierra Leone highlighted bush fire problems in areas where food scarcity is an issue.

Spain, France and Portugal drew attention to the Silva Mediterranea initiative as a unique example of long-term collaboration.

The Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe drew attention to the importance of implementing political commitments.

Forests and freshwater – Issues and Options

FAO Forest Resources Division Director El Hadji Sène introduced the need for renewed interest in the link between forests and freshwater; and emphasized the impact of forests on water quantity and quality. He reviewed achievements and gaps in watershed management and introduced the  forests and water entity at FAO to support sustainable management of water resources and to promote appropriate technologies and methodologies in collaboration with stakeholders. He said COFO directions for future action could include support for the forests and water entity in the Medium-Term Plan, promotion of partnerships and facilitating stakeholder participation.

Portugal summarized the outcomes from the side event on forests and freshwater held the previous day (click on Monday’s coverage): Issues raised included the loss of forests, which can adversely affect water supply; the importance of upstream-downstream relationships;uncertainties regarding the forests-water relationship; and the need for a multi-disciplinary exercise requiring economic, social and political institutional cooperation.

Greece, on behalf of the European Community and its member States, urged FAO to foster cross-sectoral cooperation in national and international level, and welcomed its coordination with other international bodies.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia called for detailed research planning and management of forests and water.

Norway expressed reservations on the establishment of a new forests and water entity, as it may shift the focus from higher priorities of FAO.

The US requested that the COFO report emphasize the critical role of forests in maintaining clean water.

Cameroon noted the increasing difficulties of African countries in watershed preservation and management.

Mexico welcomed the addition of the new forests and water entity to the medium term plan and said that capacity needs to be increased by exchange of activities such as skill training.

Switzerland encouraged FAO to focus on the economic aspects forests. 

Kenya drew attention to the changing lifestyles of forest dwellers. He said key challenges to water catchment management included resolving conflicts between jurisdictions, and policy.

Listen to Kenya

Brazil said fresh water and forests lie at the centre of its national strategic challenge to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Sudan stressed the need for cooperation among regional groups.

Malaysia wanted FAO to explore linkages between water and forests in its next Global FRA.

Peru noted its concern with the treatment of land zoning and said that population growth should be taken into account as a prerequisite for water management strategies.

Valerie Kapos

UK, WWF and IUCN Forest landscape restoration
The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Kingdom Forestry Commission launched a new Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, to serve as a meeting point for governments, communities, organizations and other bodies interested in restoration activities that promote sustainable development. Partnership activities will include exchange of information on potential forest landscape restoration, analysis of the contribution of forest landscape restoration in implementing current laws and agreements, presentation of case studies, and organizations of international workshops. Successful forest landscape restorations are already taking place in Tanzania, Borneo, Mexico and England (See link to the summary below).

Harmonizing forest-related definitions
Director of Forest Products Division of the FAO Wulf Killman introduced the topic of harmonizing forest-related definitions. The process, he explained, emerged from recommendations made at 2001 sessions of COFO and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). The process was endorsed by FAO, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Center for International Forestry, the United Nations Environment Progamme (UNEP), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, with the objective of harmonizing core-related definitions as used by different stakeholders. The process resulted in a report which can be found in the FAO website (see link information below).

Senior Forestry Officer of FAO Dieter Schoene provided examples of different definitions used by the IPCC, the Forest Resource Assessment 2000 and the Convention on Biodiversity. He highlighted the significant ambiguities that arise from inconsistent definitions of forests and reforestation, and how they lead to serious discrepancies in carbon accounting. Outcomes of the process included stakeholder recommendations comprised of consistent “forest” parameters, and merging of reforestation and afforestation definitions; and process recommendations including standardized carbon terminology; definitions for low forest cover countries; and a typology of planted forests.

Forests and biodiversity
World Conservation Union (IUCN) Chief Scientist Jeffrey McNeely gave a presentation on biodiversity and forestry. Reviewing the relevance of biodiversity and climate change to forest management, he emphasized that sustainable forest management (SFM) based on ecosystem principles is entirely consistent with the needs of biodiversity conservation. He called for protection of remaining large forest areas; rebuilding connectivity among small adjacent protected areas by including intervening habitat and promoting reforestation of the landscape; protection of the forest edge against structural damage; diversification and promotion of less intensive types of land use and control the introduction of invasive species; allocation of the total forest landscape to specified land uses; inclusion of ecological reserves within commercial forests; and basing forest management decisions on local peoples’ legitimate needs for sustainable access to the diversity of forest resources. In the ensuing discussion, participants emphasized the need to bring in sectoral communities, including WTO and small forest owners, into the discourse on forests and biodiversity.

Miscellaneous pictures of the day


Links to further information

FAO Forestry Web site
Documents for the COFO
ENB report from COFO-12 (pdf)
ENB’s coverage of International Conference on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (CICI)
Sustainable Development’s summary of the Expert Meeting on Forest Landscape Restoration (Costa Rica, 2002)

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