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Forests, Deserts, Land

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December 2006


A Joint International Conference on “Desertification and the International Policy Imperative,” organized under the framework of the 2006 International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD), built on outcomes from other IYDD events to consider policies needed for successful dryland management. Two signing ceremonies were organized at the conclusion of the 17-19 December 2006 conference in Algiers, Algeria. In the first, high-level representatives endorsed a proposal initiated by Algeria and Arab ministers requesting that 2010-2020 be named as a decade of deserts and desertification at the next session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The second ceremony, signed by six partner research institutes, reflected their commitment to support an international master's degree programme for drylands at the United Nations University (UNU).

Link to further information IISDRS coverage

The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) ad hoc expert group on the consideration of the content of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests is meeting from 11-15 December 2006 at UN headquarters in New York. Participants, including government-designated experts from member States and representatives of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, intergovernmental organizations and major groups, will take into account the compilation of the draft indicative elements of the non-legally binding instrument and other proposals submitted by member states during the sixth session of the Forum, proposals presented afterwards and comments provided by member states regarding all the proposals. The expert group will forward its outputs for consideration by the UNFF at its seventh session in April 2007. Links to further information IISDRS Coverage Meeting website UN Press Release, 7 December 2006
GEF CEO Proposes Shorter Project Cycle and Reduced Pipeline at Council Meeting

8 December 2006: The Global Environment Facility's (GEF) CEO Monique Barbut opened the 5-8 December 2006 Council meeting in Washington DC, US, with a proposed “Five Point Sustainability Compact to Increase Efficiency and Impact.” Her proposal included: shifting from a project-driven to a programmatic approach by focusing strategies on a clear set of priority issues for the global environment; reducing the current project pipeline in half; appointing an “Ombudsman” in the GEF Secretariat to respond to country concerns or complaints; and redesigning the project approval cycle to reduce it from 66 to 22 months. The Council adopted decisions on several issues, including decisions to: consider options to reduce project preparation and approval cycles to less than 22 months; adopt objective criteria for project selection, pipeline management and cancellation; recommend to the Fourth GEF Assembly to designate GEF as the financial mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); and further consider the roles and comparative advantages of GEF Agencies. The Council also approved a biosafety strategy to enhance the cost-effectiveness of capacity building efforts to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The strategy will require all projects to perform a stock-taking assessment to determine clearly defined targets, and will promote the funding of regional and subregional full-sized projects when there are opportunities for cost-effective sharing of limited resources and coordination between biosafety frameworks. It will also promote medium-sized country projects or multi-country thematic projects when these are most effective. On 8 December, the Council also approved new projects within the Climate Change Convention's Special Climate Change Fund and Least Developed Country Fund (SCCF and LDC Funds). [GEF CEO's speech, 5 December 2006] [GEF Talking Points, November 2006] [GEF Council Documents, December 2006]

The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its session on 6 December 2006, after adopting draft resolutions on, inter alia: the Implementation of Agenda 21, requesting the Secretary-General to submit reports on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air/pollution atmosphere and climate change; the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea, urging States to develop programmes to halt the loss of marine biodiversity; the Convention on Biological Diversity, noting the progress made in negotiating the international regime on genetic resources and benefit-sharing by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group; the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, reiterating the need for stable, adequate and predictable financial resources; and the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, calling for the integration of desertification into national strategies for sustainable development. The Committee was not able to reach consensus on a draft resolution on Climate Change, due to a provision endorsing the linkage between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations. Several delegations, including the European Union and G-77/China, expressed regret over this. The paragraph was included in the resolution only after a vote in which 108 countries supported the text and two (Japan and the US) opposed its inclusion. There were 49 abstentions. The resolution as a whole was also approved by a recorded vote with 114 votes in favor, none against, and 49 abstentions. The resolution calls on countries to work together to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC and notes the decisions taken at the recent UN Climate Change Conference – Nairobi 2006. Link to further information UN press release (8 December 2006)

November 2006


The Third International Congress on Solid Wood Products from Plantation Forests and the Latin American Tropical Forest Investment Forum convened back to back from 20-24 November 2006 in Curitiba, Brazil. Bringing together senior executives of private and public sector financial institutions, leading forestry and conservation agencies and representatives of the Latin American tropical forestry sector, the Investment Forum focused on regional investment trends, constraints and opportunities for increased investments in natural tropical forests, methodologies, case studies and legislation that influence investments for revenue generation, including markets for forest services and non-timber forest products. The Solid Wood Products Congress assessed the current situation and perspectives for the solid wood industry based on plantation timber, identifying and discussing problems and opportunities. Links to further information Investment Forum Solid Wood Products Congress

The meeting “Forestry: A Sectoral Response to Climate Change” took place from 21-23 November 2006, in Steyning, England. A Wilton Park conference, in cooperation with Great Britain's Forestry Commission, participants at this meeting addressed pressing climate change and forestry questions, including: whether the impacts of climate change on boreal, temperate and tropical forest can be predicted, and whether present forestry policy and practice adequately accommodate the current understanding of climate change; what contribution carbon sequestration in forests globally can make to the mitigation of climate change; whether the current international frameworks and agreements are achieving sustainable forestry and reforestation, and whether they are sufficient to stop deforestation and forest degradation; how the national and international forest sectors should respond to climate change in the future; and whether new research, organizational, policy and practice initiatives are required. The Forestry Commission also launched a new climate change website, which, among other things, will contain all papers from the meeting. Links to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting Forestry Commission website

The forty-first session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-41) took place from 6-11 November 2006, in Yokohama, Japan. Delegates discussed issues concerning operational, project and policy work for 2006-2007, including: the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Biennial Work Programme for 2006-2007; measures to improve and strengthen the ITTO project cycle; and ITTO Objective 2000. Delegates to ITTC-41 approved 13 new projects and seven pre-projects, pledging US$5.4 million in project financing. Additional funding from the European Commission was allocated to support capacity building in ITTO member states for the implementation of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listings of timber species. The Council adopted a decision on the terms of reference for selecting a new Executive Director, which sets out the terms of the selection panel and allocates up to US$100,000 from the Working Capital Account for the search process, and a decision to extend ITTA, 1994 until the provisional or definitive entry into force of the ITTA, 2006. Delegates also convened in sessions of the Committees on Economic Information and Market Intelligence, Forest Industry, and Reforestation and Forest Management to approve projects and pre-projects, review projects and pre-projects under implementation and ex-post evaluations, and review policy work. The twentieth session of the Committee on Finance and Administration also met to discuss the administrative budget for 2007, the current status of the Administrative Account, and considered a request by the government of Liberia for the complete waiver of all arrears to the ITTO. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting

October 2006


Jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA), the International Seminar on Energy and Forest Products Industry was held from 30-31 October in Rome, Italy. The seminar, attended by inter-governmental and private sector organizations of the global forest product industry, concluded that the global forest products industry can play a significant role in combating climate change by optimizing the use of raw material, increasing efficiency, producing bio-energy and expanding into bio-refinery products. ICFPA, FAO, IEA and WWF agreed to continue working together to apply the unique potential of the forest products sector to mitigating climate change and increasing energy security. Link to further information FAO News Release, 31 October 2006

The Second Latin American Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) was held in La Serena, Chile, from 23-27 October 2006. Hosted by the Chilean Forestry Institute (INFOR), the congress centered on three themes: Forests, Environment and Society - how forest resources contribute to improving livelihoods; Forests and Production - increasing forest area and improving products; and Arid and Semiarid Zones - combating desertification and creating new resources. Link to further information Meeting website (in Spanish)

The First International Conference of Parliamentarians on the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems convened in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 24-27 October 2006. Attended by more than 400 parliamentarians and issue experts from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, the conference focused on good forest governance and poverty alleviation, with the objective of further defining the role of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and subregional parliaments regarding sustainable forest management. Participants adopted the Yaoundé Message, which encourages the Network of Parliamentarians for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REPAR) and the Parliament of Cameroon to organize subregional meetings on good governance of forest resources, as well as an action plan that highlights three priority actions: institutional development of REPAR, enhancement of REPAR's involvement in forest sector monitoring, and combating transboundary forest crime. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

The Second Symposium on Desertification and Migration has recommended a number of steps to address the interrelationship between these issues, including pursuing a new research agenda and initiatives. The 25-27 October 2006 Symposium, which convened in Almeria, Spain, was opened by the Queen of Spain. It was organized in the framework of the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and was attended by over 150 participants from more than 40 countries, including four Ministers of Environment. Participants recommended that studies be undertaken on the socio-environmental conditions in areas where emigration and immigration take place along with the broader causes and consequences of migration, to gain a better understanding of possible adjustment measures. Proposed initiatives included proposals to: promote the International Expert Panel to Fight against Desertification; invest in efforts to fight desertification; and invest in renewable energies to eradicate the causes of anthropogenic climate change, particularly by the EU. Participants noted that Spain has experienced the greatest impact from desertification and migration of all the EU countries, and suggested that it develop a research body to create policies on the interrelationship between desertification and migration. They also suggested that an initiative between Spain, México and Germany to cooperate on research on climatic change, desertification, migration and renewable energy could be reflected in the OECD framework. Link to further information Second Symposium on Desertification and Migration website

The conference on Ecosystem Goods and Services from Planted Forests is taking place this week in Bilbao, Spain. The conference (3-7 October 2006) will consider how far plantations substitute or augment ecosystem goods and services from native forests, and how plantations can be managed to optimize the provision of such ecosystem goods and services as habitat, clean water and non-timber forest products. The conference is part of a larger congress on the Role of Planted Forests in Sustainable Development, and is sponsored by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), IUCN – The World Conservation Union, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), and the Economic Cross Cultural Programme between the EU and India. Link to further information The conference webpage

The “International Workshop on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): opportunities and challenges for the forest sector in Sub-Saharan tropical Africa,” is taking place this week (2-5 October 2006) in Accra, Ghana. Hosted by the International Tropical Timber Organization, the Ghana Forestry Commission and the Forest Research Institute of Ghana, the workshop will cover a wide range of issues related to investment opportunities in natural forest ecosystems and renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa. International experts, potential investors and other stakeholders are discussing and developing strategies to assist Sub-Saharan Africa's involvement in forestry-related CDM projects and activities to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Link to further information Conference website

At the annual policy forum of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held on 5 October 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland, several governments and local authorities from Europe, North America and Japan discussed how to avoid illegally and unsustainably sourced wood and paper products in national purchasing. Several countries, along with exporters, traders, industry and NGOs, shared their experiences of adopting or developing public procurement policies ensuring that forest products they buy come from legal and sustainably managed sources. Among the forum's conclusions were that: only a few countries are applying public procurement policies in practice; market players expressed strong concerns about the diversity of approaches between countries and the risk of creating unnecessary trade barriers; and procurement policies should consider addressing value added products that have originated from illegally or unsustainably produced wood. Links to further information FAO news release, 5 October 2006 Chatham House news release, 10 October 2006

The “International Workshop on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): opportunities and challenges for the forest sector in Sub-Saharan tropical Africa” convened from 2-5 October 2006, in Accra, Ghana. Hosted by the International Tropical Timber Organization, the Ghana Forestry Commission and the Forest Research Institute of Ghana, the workshop covered a wide range of issues related to investment opportunities in natural forest ecosystems and renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa. International experts, potential investors and other stakeholders discussed strategies to assist Sub-Saharan Africa's involvement in forestry-related CDM projects and activities to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Link to further information Meeting web page

With the help of FAO, the World Bank and other international partners, Liberia has developed a new forestry law, which was passed on 4 October 2006. The new legislation opens a new era for the Liberian forestry sector after a long period of mismanagement and exploitation of forest resources to fuel conflict, which had led to the UN Security Council imposing sanctions on Liberian timber exports for the past 3 years. Recognizing the importance of good governance and community involvement in forestry, the new policy balances community, conservation and commercial uses of Liberia's forests to produce a range of goods and services for the benefit of all Liberians, and stresses equitable access to forest resources. Link to further information FAO media release, 5 October 2006

September 2006


Organized by the ITTO and the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), a sub-regional workshop on the reinforcement of forestry training institutions in the Congo Basin was held from 26-27 September 2006. The meeting took into account relevant ongoing initiatives regarding the implementation of training programs on forest management and forest concession management, and aimed to contribute to the development of a strategy for the reinforcement of the Network of Central African Forestry and Environmental Training Institutions. Link to further information ITTO website

Meetings in Japan and Mali have taken place in the framework of the 2006 International Year of Deserts and Desertification. The International Conference on Youth and Desertification, which met in Bamako, Mali, from 4-6 September 2006, attracted 150 delegates from 45 countries. Participants at this meeting approved the “Bamako Statement,” which calls on governments to ensure that young people are involved in the management of natural resources and decision-making processes, and to give priority to creating youth employment as a matter of national urgency. They further agreed to establish a UNCCD Youth Partnership Network to facilitate the exchange of information among young people and to ensure that their concerns are brought to the attention of decision makers. Meanwhile, the symposium, “Living with Deserts II: Linkages between Dryland Science and On-the-Ground Practice,” which convened in Tokyo and Tottori, Japan, from 25-28 August 2006, was the second in a series, following an international conference held in May 2004. Specialists at this event discussed how research can help those who live in the desert achieve better lives. Links to further information “Living with Deserts II” website and webcast (August 2006) International Conference on Youth and Desertification websit... (September 2006)

Ways to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries was the focus of a recent workshop held in Rome. The workshop, which took place from 30 August to 1 September 2006, was hosted by the Italian government and UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Deforestation is responsible for more than one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and has recently been the subject of increasing interest and discussion by parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Link to further information UNFCCC news release (4 September 2006)

August 2006


The Bureau for the UN Forum on Forests has met at UN Headquarters, with members considering preparations for the ad hoc expert group meeting on the non-legally binding instrument (11-15 December 2006, New York), and the substantive topics of the Forum's seventh session (16-27 April 2007, New York). The Bureau, which met on 24 and 25 August 2006, discussed various specific issues, including the multi-year programme of work, interagency collaboration, regional aspects and scheduling of future Bureau meetings. The Bureau also welcomed the Country-Led Initiative being organized by the Government of Indonesia, to be held in February 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. The next Bureau meeting is scheduled for 12 October 2006.

Link to further information UNFF Newsletter (July/August 2006)

An online discussion forum is focusing on the question “how should a country balance authority to ensure sustainable forest management?” The discussion, hosted by the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, began on 11 August 2006 and follows and earlier online forum on “the roots causes of deforestation.” In the latest forum, two polarized viewpoints are presented; one favoring a strong central governance regime and the other supporting a strong local governance regime. A discussion analysis will be available in UNFF's next newsletter. The discussion forum.

July 2006


The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) suspended its 2006 substantive session on 28 July after adopting a number of resolutions and decisions. These related to issues such as ECOSOC's role in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits, follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the United Nations Forum on Forests. In connection with the latter, the Council adopted a decision calling for 2011 to be proclaimed the International Year of Forests. It deferred consideration of a number of remaining issues to a resumed substantive session, for which the dates have not yet been set. Links to further information ECOSOC news release, 28 July 2006 UN news, press releases and meeting summaries from ECOSOC's ..., July 2006

The Plants and Animals Committees of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have concluded after meeting in Lima, Peru throughout early to mid-July. The 16th meeting of the CITES Plants Committee convened from 3-8 July 2006. From 7-8 July, a joint session was held with the Animals Committee, which met separately for its 22nd meeting from 7-13 July. The Plants Committee agreed not to subject bigleaf mahogany to a review of significant trade at this stage, established an intersessional working group on Prunus africana, and discussed a proposal on timber export quotas to be presented at CITES COP-14, to be held in June 2007. The joint session addressed a number of issues relevant to both committees, including: proposed amendments to the rules of procedure; the review of the scientific committees; the review of significant trade in Madagascar; transport of live specimens; and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Animals Committee addressed a review of significant trade for a number of new species, reached agreement on sea cucumbers, sharks and the historically challenging definition of fossil corals, and established informal intersessional groups to continue work on crocodile ranching and the transport of live specimens.

Link to further information Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the meetings

A roundtable discussion entitled “Towards a new international regime on forests” has been held on 5 July 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland. Organized by the Geneva Environment Network (GEN), the meeting was attended by representatives from, inter alia, the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), FAO, the UN Forum on Forests, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and Intercooperation. Participants heard presentations on the different activities and mandates of the organizations: ITTO described its legally binding agreement; UNFF gave an update of the results of their 6th Session and reaching a “soft forest convention;” and FAO showed its support for the international forest regime. Participants discussed illegal logging, the feasibility of a non-legally binding “soft” convention to ensure compliance, taxing illegal forest activities and capacity building. IISD sources.

June 2006


The latest meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission has taken place, with participants launching an initiative to collect case studies on forest management. The Commission's 24th session was held from 26-30 June 2006, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Participants discussed planted forests, conservation of biological diversity, climate change and forest fires. During the meeting, an initiative was launched to collect case studies of successful forest management from around the region so that they can be replicated elsewhere. Between 25 and 30 of the nominated cases of successful forestry management programmes will be selected for in-depth study and collected in a book slated for publication in 2009. Despite the region's high rate of forest loss over the past 15 years, FAO experts cited numerous examples of sound programmes in which forests are being effectively managed and the benefits of forestry are being shared among local communities.

Links to further information FAO press release, 26 June 2006 US Department of State press release, 29 June 2006

Scientists and policymakers have gathered in Tunis, Tunisia to commemorate 50 years of drylands research and discuss the future of drylands. At the conclusion of the 19-21 June 2006 meeting, participants adopted a Tunis Declaration, which identifies a number of research priorities for dryland areas. The meeting was organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to mark the UN International Year of Deserts and Desertification, and gathered approximately 400 participants. The research priority issues identified in the Tunis Declaration include: the interdependence and conservation of cultural and biological diversity; integrated management of water resources in the context of a looming water crisis; assessing and forecasting dryland ecosystem dynamics to formulate adaptation strategies in the context of global change and to alleviate poverty so as to achieve the MDGs; agriculture and pastoralism as opportunities for sustainable land use; coping with and management of natural and man-made disasters; formulating and implementing scenarios and policy options for good governance in the context of global change; identifying viable dryland livelihoods and policy options for the benefit of dryland dwellers (such as ecotourism); educating for sustainable development and knowledge sharing; reversing environmental degradation and promoting rehabilitation; costs related to inaction [emphasis in original] in the field of land degradation; renewable energies suitable for dryland development; and evaluation of dryland ecosystem services and their trade-offs.

Link to further information Meeting website

The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Bureau nominated Hans Hoogeven (Netherlands) as Chair during its 21 June 2006 meeting. Other items discussed during the meeting included preparations for the 11-15 December 2006 Open-Ended Ad Hoc Working Group, which will consider the content of a Non-Legally Binding Instrument prior to UNFF-7. The second UNFF-7 Bureau meeting will convene in August. Meanwhile, in the latest newsletter of the UNFF Secretariat, Pekka Patosaari, Director of the UNFF Secretariat, writes that the future agenda of UNFF will include building on the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) processes. The Secretariat is in the process of assessing the key elements for successful governance regimes and the relationship between governance and sustainable forest management, and will publish a background study on forest ownership and governance in late 2006.

Link to further information UNFF Newsletter

Under the UN-selected theme of Deserts and Desertification and the slogan “Don't Desert Drylands!,” numerous events marked World Environment Day on 5 June 2006. Algiers, Algeria, hosted the main observances, including UNEP's International Children's Painting Competition on the Environment, which featured images of water and life, desert biodiversity and deforestation. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika urged the adoption of a World Charter on Deserts to help achieve a Millennium Goal of halving poverty by 2015. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) altered the day's slogan to make it more applicable to many refuge situations: “Combat Land Degradation in Refugee-Hosting Areas.” UNEP issued guidelines for desert tourists to preserve the environment, including the suggestions that they drink purified instead of mineral water in plastic bottles, take old batteries back home and use gas rather than firewood for cooking. In a pre-World Environment Day event on 2 June 2006, the Geneva Environment Network organized a roundtable to discuss whether the international community should create global environmental goals to provide new impetus and a benchmark for attaining progress on environmental sustainability. Four presenters, Jean Fabre, Director in charge of communications at UNDP in Geneva, Hilary French, Senior Advisor for Programs at the Worldwatch Institute, Thomas Kolly, head of the International Affairs Division of Switzerland's Federal Office for the Environment, and Claude Martin, former Director General of WWF International, made presentations on this subject, followed by a question-and-answer session. Frits Schilengmann, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, moderated the discussion. Participants emphasized that setting environmental goals would identify priorities and ensure continuity between governments. The view was expressed that there is a disconnect between the growing number of international environmental agreements and increasing environmental degradation, and that Millennium Development Goal 7 is not sufficiently precise or strong and does not integrate environmental concerns into development. Participants suggested that global environmental goals hold the potential to bring coherence to the currently fragmented and disorderly array of international environmental regimes (IISD sources). Links to further information UN News Center report, 5 June 2006 Reuters news story, 5 June 2006

The 40th session of the International Tropical Timber Council has allocated several million dollars to new projects and considered procurement policies in consumer countries. At the session, which took place in Mérida, Mexico, from 29 May to 2 June 2006, the Council allocated a total of US$3.9 million to a number of new projects, including initiatives on shoot-borers in timber plantations, management of mangrove and flood forests, and funding for an African regional parliamentary conference on the sustainable management of Central African forest ecosystems. ITTO's Annual Market Discussion addressed tropical timber procurement policies in consumer countries, and a number of side-events were convened on challenges facing community forestry enterprises. The Council is the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), and meets regularly to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber. Link to further information ITTO press release, 2 June 2006

Participants at a conference of the 23-member Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) have agreed to establish commissions to develop training programmes and promote research on desertification, water and agriculture. The meeting, which took place in Tripoli, Libya, from 1-2 June 2006, concluded that the CEN-SAD commissions would establish networks of specialists to share information between member states as well as plans to monitor and address degradation of arid lands. Delegates also agreed to move forward on a North Africa Green Belt Project, which will seek to plant trees in a five-kilometer wide belt from Mauritania to Djibouti in an effort to stop the spread of deserts.

Links to further information CEN-SAD website SciDev.Net news release, 6 June 2006

Participants at a conference in Beijing have adopted a statement addressing priorities for action and other issues relating to women and desertification. The Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the governments of Algeria, China and Italy organized the Beijing International Conference on Women and Desertification, which met from 29 May – 1 June 2006. The meeting was one of several marking the 2006 International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD). Over 100 participants from approximately 50 countries discussed challenges and opportunities for women in drylands and the Beijing Platform for Action from the Fourth World Conference on Women, among other agenda items. Following an opening ceremony attended by approximately 400 individuals and a roundtable discussion with ministers from Bulgaria, Algeria and China among other governmental representatives, participants broke into three thematic working groups to identify potential elements for a Beijing Statement, which was adopted by the conference. The Beijing Statement addresses: institutional issues, including ways to use the intersessional intergovernmental working group (IIWG) and Ad Hoc Working Group to follow-up on the Beijing discussions; main priorities for action, including water and resource management, energy, food security, health and education; funding mechanisms; monitoring; and implementation mechanisms. Participants also recommended that the Beijing Statement be placed on the COP-8 agenda and that a follow-up meeting be organized in two years. Link to further information IYDD website

May 2006


The 33rd session of FAO's European Forestry Commission has been held in Zvolen, Slovakia, with delegates considering lessons learned and challenges ahead for the forestry sector in countries with economies in transition. The session, which took place from 23-26 May 2006, also focused on progress towards sustainable forest management in Europe, forest law compliance, and forest-related voluntary codes of practice. At the meeting, the FAO noted that Eastern European countries are facing many challenges, following the restitution of forests from the State to their previous owners. Given the lack of an established tradition of forest management, institutional advice and support, many new forest owners are tempted to sell all their timber to the first buyer, at the expense of active and responsible management. The FAO, together with the UN Economic Commission for Europe, is working with international organizations and governments to support private owners in the management and marketing of forest products, to make private forests more economically viable. Meeting every two years, the European Forestry Commission is one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by FAO to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest issues on a regional basis. Links to further information Meeting website FAO press release, 24 May 2006

ITTO, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Government of Philippines recently organized a national training workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines. The event, held from 8-12 May 2006, brought together representatives from government agencies, civil society, the private sector, local communities and research organizations to validate the extent and causes of forest landscape change in the Philippines, and provided training on the concepts and application of FLR through various learning activities. Participants also provided feedback on the restoration guidelines and manual developed by ITTO and IUCN, and drafted an Action Plan to enable the practical implementation of FLR in the Philippines over the coming months. Link to further information IUCN press release, 26 May 2006

April 2006


The International Seminar on Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface was held on 26 April 2006 in Wroclaw, Poland, as part of the work programme of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE). The seminar aimed to provide a platform for a dialogue between the policy makers and science community on how to strengthen the knowledge base in support of Pan-European forest policy deliberations, formulation, implementation and monitoring processes. Participants concluded that a more structured approach to the science-policy interface in the MCPFE should be developed, and decided to prepare an “options paper” outlining different options on how to structure this interface, which will be presented to the MCPFE Expert Level Meeting in October 2006. The seminar was organized jointly by the European Forest Institute (EFI), International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and United Nations University with the support of the MCPFE Liaison Unit Warsaw.

Links to further information IUFRO press release (19 June 2006) The report of the seminar

The 21st session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) has concluded after focusing on sustainable forest management and financing issues. The Commission, which met in Dehradun, India from 17-21 April 2006, considered the use of innovative financing such as the payment of environmental services and the role of regional mechanisms in promoting sustainable forest management. Delegates further discussed codes of practice for planted forests, forest harvesting and wildland fires, and the FAO/ITTO guidelines best practices on law compliance in the forest sector. The Committee, which meets every two years, is one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by the FAO to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss forest issues on a regional basis. Link to further information Meeting website, April 2006

A two-day meeting within the framework of the 2006 International Year for Deserts and Desertification (IYDD) has considered political frameworks, agricultural development and livelihoods and coping strategies in drylands. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in partnership with the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) organized an international conference on Desertification, Hunger and Poverty, which convened from 11-12 April 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Liliane Ortega, SDC official and Swiss representative to the UNCCD, discussions revealed that “It was not just a question of trying to find more money, but that there can be a partnership between the West and the developing world... that [the affected countries] have to act themselves but with the support of the West.” Ortega also highlighted the economic aspects of desertification, stating that 'Land degradation affects people's lives and livelihoods, and as such it must be treated within the context of agriculture and its economic cost.' A report from the conference is expected by July 2006. Links to further information Conference Programme, April 2006 Swiss info news story, 13 April 2006 SciDev.Net news story, 20 April 2006

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) that the net rate of forest loss in Africa is the second highest in the world, while the continent leads the world in the frequency of forest fires. This warning came during the AFWC's fifteenth session, which convened in Maputo, Mozambique, from 29 March to 1 April 2006. The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, which is held every two years at a meeting organized by FAO, considered AFWC and other FAO-supported activities and initiatives, implementation of sustainable forest management in Africa, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through regional cooperation, forest law compliance, and regional issues identified by the Commission for the attention of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), among other issues. The Commission also considered links between climate change and deforestation, a subject on which FAO has warned that action should be taken now to manage the complex relationship in a more holistic manner. Links to further information FAO News Release, 31 March 2006 FAO News Releases, 27 March 2006

February 2006


Some headway was made at UNFF-6 (13-24 February 2006) as negotiators were finally able to agree on how to proceed with reconstituting the international arrangement on forests (IAF). Although no final decisions were reached at UNFF-6, delegates did generate a negotiating text that contains new language on the function of the international arrangement on forests, a commitment to convene UNFF biennially after 2007, and a request that UNFF-7 (16-27 April 2007) adopt a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests. UNFF-6 also set four global objectives for the IAF: reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide through sustainable forest management (SFM), including protection, restoration, afforestation and reforestation; enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits and the contribution of forests to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals; increase significantly the area of protected forests worldwide and other areas of sustainably managed forests; and reverse the decline in ODA for SFM and mobilize significantly increased new and additional financial resources from all sources for the implementation of SFM. Links to further information IISD Reporting Services coverage of the Sixth Session of the... United Nations Forum on Forests web site

January 2006


The UN Conference on the Negotiation of the Successor Agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994 (ITTA, 1994), Fourth Part, has achieved consensus, after two weeks of intensive negotiations. This fourth negotiation session on the successor agreement convened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16-27 January 2006. Delegates focused on resolving issues left outstanding at the end of ITTA-3, including financial arrangements, the scope of the agreement, and voting structure, and based their discussions on the final working document from the third part of the Conference (TD/Timber.3/L.6), which concluded on 1 July 2005. Link to further information Full coverage by IISDRS