Summary report, 16–20 March 2009

19th Session of COFO

The nineteenth session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Forestry (COFO) convened from 16-20 March 2009 at FAO headquarters in Rome. The meeting attracted over 550 participants from COFO member states, including heads of forestry departments, UN agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. In plenary sessions held throughout the week, participants discussed: the FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry; the Collaborative Partnership on Forests’  Strategic Framework on Forests and Climate Change and related topics including sustainable forest management (SFM) and climate change; forest genetic resources; reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; access to financing; the impacts of recent economic turbulence on the forest sector; and preparations for the XIII World Forestry Congress (WFC XIII).

Delegates also attended presentations on: ecosystem-based adaptation; fire and climate change; the future of forestry research and education; and preparations for the eighth session of the UN Forum on Forests, which will meet from 20 April to 1 May 2009.

The week also included meetings of: Regional Forestry Commission Bureaux, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, the Forest Resources Assessment Advisory Group, the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, the COFO Executive Committee, the Silva Mediterranean Executive Committee, the WFC XIII Advisory Committee, the Wildland Fire International Liaison Committee, and the International Model Forests Network International Advisory Council.

COFO19 adopted a final report, in which it, inter alia: urges members to deliberate on national and international responses of the forestry sector to climate change; recommends that FAO and other organizations strengthen members’ capacities to implement SFM; and recommends that FAO prepare a report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources by 2013.

In parallel to the meeting and throughout the week, many special events were held as part of “World Forest Week.” This new format allowed for greater participation by intergovernmental organizations and discussion among countries in a less formal setting, although views expressed during these events were not officially included within the report of the meeting. These events included, inter alia: presentations on the future of forestry research and education; the role of forests in the fifth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility; and a dialogue among the heads of the world’s forestry departments.

This report will present a brief history of COFO, a summary of the plenary sessions at COFO-19, a summary of the events that took place during World Forest Week, followed by a brief analysis.


The Committee on Forestry (COFO) is the most important of the FAO Forestry Statutory Bodies, which also include the Regional Forestry Commissions (RFCs), the Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products, the Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions (Silva Mediterranea), the International Poplar Commission, and the Panel of Experts on Forest Genetic Resources. The biennial sessions of COFO, held at FAO headquarters in Rome, bring together heads of forestry services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, seek solutions and advise FAO and others on appropriate action. This is achieved through: periodic reviews of international forestry problems and appraisal of these problems; review of the FAO forestry work programmes and their implementation; advice to the FAO Director-General on the future work programmes of FAO in the field of forestry and their implementation; reviews of and recommendations on specific matters relating to forestry referred to it by the FAO Council, Director-General or member states; and reports to the FAO Council. Membership in COFO is open to all FAO member states wishing to participate in its work.

COFO-13: At its thirteenth session in 1997, COFO continued discussion of progress towards SFM, recommended the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest’s proposals for action and tackled the issue of COFO’s role and that of the RFCs. In addition, it considered implications for forestry of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, addressed conservation and sustainable utilization of forest genetic resources, and called for additional financial resources for the 1998-2003 Medium-Term Plan.

COFO-14: Discussions at COFO’s fourteenth session in 1999 addressed the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development’s Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, the global forest sector outlook, and national and international challenges to forest policies for sustainability. COFO-14 also reviewed FAO’s programmes in the forestry sector, and its Strategic Framework (2000-2015) and medium-term implications for the forestry programme.

COFO-15: In 2001, COFO’s fifteenth session focused on forest information and knowledge management, criteria and indicators for sustainable development of all types of forests, and implications of certification and trade for SFM. It reviewed FAO’s forestry programmes, including results of the Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2000, the 2002-2007 Medium-Term Plan, proposals for a global FRA, and key forest-related issues of climate change and the Kyoto Protocol.

COFO-16: COFO-16 convened in March 2003 to discuss: forests and freshwater; national forest programmes as a mechanism to implement the key outcomes of the World Food Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development; the review of FAO programmes; and the FAO medium-term planning process, particularly regarding forests, poverty and food security, forest governance and forest biodiversity.

COFO-17: COFO-17 convened in March 2005 to address: the 2005 State of the World’s Forests report; RFCs; needs and opportunities for international cooperation in forest fire preparedness; the role of forests in contributing to the Millennium Development Goals, and the World Forestry Congress. The Ministerial Meeting on Forests was also held during COFO-17. Ministers addressed issues relating to international cooperation on forest fire management and maintaining commitment to SFM, and adopted a Ministerial Statement.

COFO-18: COFO-18 convened in March 2007 to address: the 2007 State of the World’s Forests; forest and energy; forest protection; putting forestry to work at the local level; progressing towards sustainable forest management; shaping an action programme for FAO in forestry; decisions and recommendations of FAO bodies; and the XIII World Forestry Congress.


On Monday, 16 March 2009, Jan Heino, FAO, welcomed participants to COFO and World Forest Week (WFW). He emphasized the need for cooperation among forest-related organizations and the role that FAO can play in this regard. He noted that the agenda for this session of COFO was determined in consultation with member country representatives. He underscored the sense of urgency accompanying the meeting, due to the need to address climate change and the challenges posed by the global economic crisis, and emphasized the need for institutional adaptation.

The plenary then adopted the provisional agenda (COFO 2009/2) without amendments. The following COFO officers were nominated and elected by acclamation: Abigail Kimbell (US) as Chair; Pham Minh Thoa (Vietnam), Conceição Ferreira (Portugal), Kubilay Özyalçin (Turkey), and Camilo Gonzáles (Ecuador) as Vice Chairs. In addition, delegates elected members of the Drafting Committee, with each region nominating three countries to serve on this committee.


STATE OF THE WORLD’S FORESTS REPORT: On Monday, C.T.S. Nair, FAO, presented FAO’s State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2009, on “Society, Forests, and Forestry: Adapting for the Future.” He highlighted that its two sections summarize the outlook for the world’s forests and the sector’s response to these challenges. He noted: SOFO’s observations on increasing long-term demands for wood products, biofuel and environmental services; the trade-offs between these; and the need for institutional changes and science and technology for adaptation to these increasing demands. He underscored that the current world economic decline provides an opportunity for forest sector leadership on a “green path” to development.

Jan Heino, FAO, introduced the draft FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry, noting its close link to the FAO Strategic Framework and Medium-Term Plan and called for a decision on the draft. He highlighted its six medium-term strategic objectives on:

  • timely and reliable information on forests;
  • international cooperation and debate;
  • strengthening of institutions and decision-making that govern forests, with stakeholder involvement, in developing forest policies and legislation to enhance investment in forestry and forest industries;
  • better integration of forestry into national development plans and processes;
  • broader adoption of SFM to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and contribute to improving livelihoods and mitigating climate change; and
  • enhancement of social and economic values and livelihood benefits of forests and trees, including markets that contribute to making forestry a more economically viable land use option.

CPF STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK: On Monday, Jan McAlpine, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), presented the Collaborative Partnership of Forests (CPF) Strategic Framework for Forests and Climate Change, noting the diverse set of views it captures, and presented several key messages contained in the Framework. She cautioned that focusing solely on “forests for carbon” poses the same risk as focusing solely on “forests for timber,” and stressed the need to consider the full range of social and environmental contributions that forests deliver. She noted the failure of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to generate afforestation and reforestation projects, and said that the current climate regime does not provide incentives for keeping forests standing. She stressed the need to ensure that REDD does not create perverse incentives to degrade the forest.

In the ensuing discussion, the Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union (EU), emphasized the need to prioritize elements of the FAO Strategic Plan according to financial allocations, and to implement this according to time-bound targets. China supported the FAO’s role in establishing national forest programmes (NFPs), and increased consultation regarding forest management.

Switzerland emphasized that forests can also play a role in climate change adaptation, and not just through carbon sequestration, and noted the need for foresters to get involved in their national United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delegations. He added that the potential injection of funds promised by REDD underscores the need for proper forest governance and equity.

The US said parts of the US are already experiencing changes in temperature and precipitation. He recommended a strong FAO role in addressing forests in the context of agriculture, other land uses and climate change mitigation and adaptation. He favored keeping forests as an independent department within FAO, with a clear focus on SFM.

Iran called for more clear and transparent support to low forest cover countries (LFCCs) in the Forest Strategy to help them to do their part by increasing plantations as a carbon sink. Brazil described its national policies to curb deforestation in the Amazon and praised the non-legally binding instrument on forests (NLBI), calling for political commitment and adequate financing for its implementation. He lamented the world financial crisis and, with Ecuador, called for a voluntary global fund to support the NLBI, with an equitable governance structure and regional representation.

Afghanistan highlighted the goal of enhancing the welfare of forest-dwelling people in the Forest Strategy but questioned the large number of priorities the Strategy contains and the lack of financing proposals for their implementation. Ecuador noted the need to reward people for carrying out SFM as an incentive to do so and called for institutional capacity building.

Guyana lamented the low recognition of the role of standing forests in climate change mitigation, noting developing countries’ commitment to this and their need for financial and technical support to the SFM process and REDD.  He called for a stronger partnership to assist in making available the required resources. 

Japan recommended using the term “forest management” rather than “forestry” as more inclusive. He called for: continued improvement in the collection and dissemination of global forest statistics; further integration of monitoring, with stakeholder participation; and strengthened linkages between FAO and other relevant international organizations and secretariats – including those covering agriculture and fisheries – as well as bilateral organizations, to increase effectiveness and efficiency.

Indonesia called for: language on satisfying the needs of indigenous communities and local people; FAO technical assistance in relation to climate change; and, with Tanzania and Mexico, inclusion of SFM in REDD. He supported the NLBI as a basis for all activities related to forest lands.

Tanzania noted the sub-Saharan African countries’ priority to manage and use forest resources to fight widespread poverty and improve livelihoods and contribute to national economic growth.

Mexico noted the need to strengthen coordination on forests and climate change in the CPF Strategic Framework on Forests and Climate Change. Canada supported the EU on the issue of priorities and resources and said the call for innovation should be strengthened in the Strategy, noting Jan Heino’s prediction that SFM could result in 10 million jobs. Senegal noted that the commitment of eleven African countries to establish a “Great Green Wall” to prevent the southward spread of the Sahara Desert, based on local development and reforestation efforts. He cautioned that inadequate funding could undermine initiatives such as the NLBI and REDD.

SFM AND CLIMATE CHANGE: On Tuesday, Jim Butler, Deputy Director-General, FAO, introduced keynote speaker Gro Harlem Brundtland, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. He noted her past accomplishments as Prime Minister of Norway and former head of the World Commission on Environment and Development.

Brundtland called for meaningful commitments to reduce emissions and to fund adaptation and mitigation, and emphasized that forests must be included in a post-Kyoto climate agreement, as the source of one-fifth of all emissions. She said the Eliasch Review identified reducing deforestation and forest degradation as the most cost-effective ways of addressing climate change, capable of reducing costs by 50%. She emphasized that the rights of forest-dependent people must be respected and safeguards established for this. She lamented that climate change is resulting in positive feedback loops, as it is linked to increased natural disturbances such as fire and pest outbreaks, which then release further emissions. She said that international forest and climate change policies must be mutually supportive, and that governments must commit to adjusting their development path to reduce conversion of forested land to other uses.

Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), called for SFM for climate change mitigation. He noted that emissions are still increasing, with forest emissions third highest behind energy and industry, but highlighted that the CPF’s success in agreeing upon a Strategic Framework on Climate Change is a positive development. He called SFM a strong yet flexible framework for reducing emissions and improving carbon sequestration, noting that it applies to protected and planted forests, contributes to biodiversity and other environmental services, and creates jobs and reduces poverty. He noted that options for forests include not only REDD but also conservation, restoration, reforestation, production of biofuels and wood fuels, and wood production, which can sequester and stock carbon while reducing emissions by 10%, if done efficiently. He called SFM key to the post-2012 regime and urged a focus on the conditions, financial and technical support, capacity building and good governance that are necessary to ensure its use and integration into national strategies.

Frances Seymour, Director-General, Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR), presented on how CIFOR works with other CPF members to enhance inter-sectoral collaboration, the provision of alternative livelihoods, and economic incentives to reduce deforestation and degradation. On forests’ role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, she: noted that many deforestation drivers are outside the forest sector; pointed to a resulting need for inter-sectoral collaborations; and highlighted forests’ role in climate change adaptation strategies for other sectors. On community-based forestry, livelihoods and conservation, she said programmes, including REDD, should provide alternative incomes to local communities based on SFM and forest protection. Concerning SFM of tropical production forests and impacts of global trade and investments, she underscored: the importance of effective financing, forest policies and institutions; and SFM and reduced impact logging in tropical countries. To close, she announced CIFOR’s third Forest Day to be held in December 2009 in conjunction with the 15th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 15), which will propose a forward-looking agenda and examine implementation challenges for REDD projects under any future climate agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, many delegates emphasized the crucial role of forest expertise in climate negotiations, and supported the growing cooperation around climate issues through the CPF, noting a strong and central position for FAO.

The Czech Republic, for the EU, underscored the role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation, the need to pay attention to concerns over livelihoods, and the need for capacity building to facilitate implementation of forest-based programmes. The UK noted its work on forest landscape restoration, underlining its contribution to climate change.

Iran noted its work on forest restoration and re-vegetation in relation to climate change, and asked for practical approaches to integrating social and economic dimensions into SFM.

Vietnam reported its participation in a pilot project for the UN-REDD Programme and the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), noting its aim of informing assessment of forest-carbon baselines, capacity building, and training in order to support development of practical and workable mechanisms for REDD.

Angola stressed capacity building and reducing the complexity of climate-forest programmes. The Philippines discussed climate change impacts for its coastal and small island territories, and shared experiences on its national policy responses.

South Africa emphasized the high costs of climate change to southern African countries and the limited capacity and resources available to respond. She called for increased investment in agricultural productivity and financing for forest conservation. Argentina said the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aries, Argentina, from 18-23 October 2009, will be an opportunity to prepare for UNFCCC COP 15.

Burundi emphasized the challenge of SFM given population pressures and periods of war and conflict. He called for greater financial and technical support for implementing SFM specific to fuel wood management. Gabon, supported by the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted its SFM and forest protection efforts, calling for financing mechanisms to address REDD. Burkina Faso underscored that finances were the main deterrent to implementing SFM, not a lack of political will.

Japan noted its ongoing financial contributions to forest-related international efforts and its contribution to forest monitoring technologies, including remote sensing for tracking illegal logging and assessing forest stocks. 

ADAPTING FOREST INSTITUTIONS: On Tuesday afternoon, Pham Minh Thoa (Vietnam) chaired the plenary session on institutional change in a dynamic world.

The FAO Secretariat introduced “Adapting Forest Policy and Institutions to Change” (COFO 2009/6), highlighting increasing demands on forests, new social and environmental objectives and powerful players, and enhanced information and communication technologies. She called for focusing on customer needs, core competencies and new funding sources.

The Czech Republic, for the EU, called on FAO to make information universally available, assist institutional change, improve cross-sectoral linkages, and adapt to changing market requirements.

Afghanistan said the global economic downturn will affect the forest sector’s ability to adopt or adjust policies requiring institutional changes. He called for streamlining policies through efficient NFPs and participatory approaches.

Malaysia called for public forest institutions to raise issues proactively with forest-relevant international organizations and secretariats and stressed application of SFM and ecosystem approaches.

India called for partnerships with private sector organizations to address financial gaps.

Indonesia noted that, given declining international assistance and financing for forestry, public forest institutions must develop responses with better access for local communities.

Venezuela called for FAO assistance in developing reliable national forest inventories. Brazil and Colombia urged international institutions to adapt to change and respond to countries’ needs, rather than require countries to conform to rigid conditions.

Burundi stressed agroforestry, FAO assistance for NFPs in LFCCs, and, with Lebanon, improvements in monitoring and evaluation. China called for COFO to coordinate national forest sectors.

Lebanon noted that economic development affects types of “customers” served and funding has shifted from public forest institutions to NGOs with funds from abroad. Chile said it is tackling the world financial crisis by supporting owners reliant on forests for livelihoods.

Belarus noted its forests prevented the migration of fallout from Chernobyl into other countries. Ecuador called for institutional linkages to generate policies across all natural resources.

FAO STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK AND MEDIUM-TERM PLAN: On Tuesday, Jan Heino, FAO, highlighted the Results-based Programme Framework in the FAO’s Strategic Framework and Medium-Term Plan (COFO 2009/8.2), describing this process to first identify desired outcomes through an ongoing participatory process and then allocate funds to achieve them. He noted a shift in emphasis from outputs to outcomes for all FAO work and locations.

The Czech Republic, on behalf of the EU, noted the need to avoid duplicating the efforts of other forest-related organizations and emphasized that the Strategic Framework’s priorities should be concrete and time-bound.

Sweden noted the difficulty in establishing FAO priorities, given the diversity of member countries, and said that the Swedish forest sector had established targets at national and operational levels to enable monitoring and reporting.

Switzerland emphasized the need for cross-sector collaboration and improved governance and tenure.

China called for an appropriate and effective mechanism covering forests and climate change, including more research, CPF support and strengthened cooperation. Malaysia noted SFM’s environmental sustainability, economic viability and social acceptability, and, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called for: rewarding countries that have traditionally practiced SFM; political will and resources to implement NFPs; and regional and South-South cooperation.

Nicaragua, supported by Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called for rewarding commitments on adaptation and conservation. Senegal called for more serious commitments, partnership, better governance at all levels, and greater financing. Congo noted an emerging consensus on SFM’s role in reducing greenhouse gases, calling for an effective mechanism to mobilize resources for SFM implementation and for subregional consultations on proposals for COP 15.

Afghanistan noted agroforestry’s contribution on climate change and called for regional forestry commissions to promote efforts such as mango forest promotion. Colombia called for taking account of the positive effects of ongoing work in developing countries.

Brazil highlighted its activities for protecting the Amazon, bemoaning the lack of developed country commitments to curb their own greenhouse gas emissions. He opposed COFO’s prejudging the outcomes of COP 15 but favored more FAO work on SFM and adaptation. Canada noted that recognizing SFM within the post-2012 climate change agreement would reduce the likelihood of forests being valued solely for carbon.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo cautioned against repeating the CDM’s mistakes, such as employing methodologies that are prohibitively complicated. He said that central Africa requires capacity building, noting the lack of a permanent satellite reception station.

Countries also spoke about national experiences and efforts and complained about being asked to help mitigate climate change despite having had no part in creating the problem to date.

Argentina emphasized the benefit of providing support for NFPs, highlighting aspects of Argentina’s new forest legislation. Brazil emphasized the need for a growth strategy for FAO and requested clarification of the term “environmental values of forests and forestry.” Norway advocated focusing on key priorities and monitoring outcomes based on timely and accurate information, and emphasized that FAO can play a valuable role as a provider of information.

The US urged consideration of: integrated land use management; CPF partner outreach; and acquisition of forest data. South Africa, on behalf of the South African Development Community (SADC), urged inclusion of transboundary fire management, capacity building, and climate change and carbon trading in FAO’s Strategic Framework.

Guyana noted that developing SFM is costly but creates global as well as local benefits, adding that REDD reporting will be an additional burden. Australia emphasized that FAO’s forest policy priorities should be based on core functions and institutional comparative advantages. France expressed support for inclusion of forest genetic resources in the Strategic Framework.

REDUCING EMISSIONS FROM FORESTRY AND LAND USE CHANGE: On Wednesday, Conceição Ferreira (Portugal) chaired a panel-led discussion on reducing emissions from forestry and land use change.

Roberto Acosta, UNFCCC, provided an overview of the development of REDD and described related activities leading up to UNFCCC COP 15 in December 2009.

He said capacity and technical assistance will need to be developed within potential REDD recipient countries and that pilot projects will be used to explore methodological issues.

Nalin Srivastava, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), described the IPCC’s Good Practice Guidance on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). He noted that it facilitates reporting on emissions from managed forests, a requirement for Kyoto Protocol Annex I countries which is encouraged for non-Annex I countries as well. He emphasized that all carbon pools must be considered, making this endeavor complex and data-intensive.

Jan Heino, FAO, introduced a joint presentation on REDD by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), FAO and the World Bank.

Charles McNeill, UNDP, emphasized that REDD needs to build on the cumulative experience of forest-related organizations and ensure that the UN “delivers as one.” He highlighted three central issues: MARV (measurement, assessment, reporting and verification); stakeholder engagement; and provision of multiple benefits. McNeill stressed that indigenous people deserve a voice within REDD at the global and local levels, as the traditional custodians of some of the last intact forests. He highlighted that many have expressed strong concerns regarding REDD and involvement in decision making. He noted the UN’s strong mandate and various mechanisms for stakeholder engagement, and said the World Bank and UN-REDD have harmonized guidelines for civil society consultation.

Peter Holmgren, FAO, recalled that REDD must be “equitable, effective and efficient” and focus on institution strengthening, capacity building, and local action. He described the initiation of UN-REDD’s “Quick Start” phase, involving pilot projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Bolivia, Panama, and Paraguay, and added that US$52 million had been provided by Norway. Holmgren highlighted MARV as the “cornerstone of carbon accounting,” noting that the forest sector has a wealth of experience in this field and that REDD is not the only MARV need within SFM.

Gerhard Dieterle, World Bank, described the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) as a sister programme to UN-REDD, composed of a readiness fund to prepare countries for engagement in REDD, and a carbon fund to reward countries on the basis of proven emissions reductions. He said the identification of a functional gap between these two funds triggered the development of a third, the Forest Investment Programme (FIP). He said the FIP, projected to be operational by the end of 2009, will provide funds for “transformational” reforms and investments needed to address underlying causes of deforestation, including those outside the forest sector. He said that FIP’s governance will include equal representation by donor and recipient countries, and will include international organizations and civil society as observers. Dieterle stressed that REDD cannot be realized without considering all products and services that forests deliver, as well as poverty reduction and livelihoods. He concluded by saying that REDD depends on SFM in the broadest sense.

In the discussion, many countries highlighted their own relevant experiences and needs and contributed comments and questions about the mechanisms detailed by the panelists. In response to New Zealand, Peter Holmgren said UN agencies would support countries’ own efforts to obtain reference emission scenarios and build capacity for negotiation. In response to Indonesia, he noted the need for flexibility to address individual countries’ diverse circumstances. He cautioned that not all necessary actions will happen before COP 15, but noted the increased financial power available to FAO from working with other agencies. He agreed with Senegal that regional and subregional briefings, and knowledge-sharing more generally, would be useful, as well as national cross-sectoral efforts. In answer to Congo, he noted UN-REDD’s initiative to provide relevant, frequent and free satellite remote sensing data to users in central Africa and other regions.

Gerhard Dieterle commented that multiple severe gaps exist in the financing architecture for SFM within the climate change regime, which affect LFCCs, small and medium-sized countries with still-intact forest, African and small island countries and many least developed and low income countries. He cautioned that REDD cannot achieve all global SFM objectives. He recommended that COFO send a strong message on SFM to COP 15. In response to Colombia, he said the FIP design process is ongoing, but that community and indigenous groups are achieving self-selection for that process with the help of IUCN, and noted that one extreme form of adaptation is migration, with resulting impacts on existing land use rights and land tenure. Nalin Srivastava said the IPCC gives details on estimating inventory and Good Practice Guidance but that countries must collect the data themselves.

Acosta said COP 15 must focus on three goals: reducing emissions from developed countries, finding appropriate mitigation actions for developing countries with support from new sources of finance and technology, and creating a new financial architecture to support enhanced mitigation and adaptation.

ISSUES TO BE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF COFO: On Wednesday morning delegates met in a plenary session co-chaired by Marmad Darlington Duwa (Zimbabwe) and Camilo González (Ecuador) to discuss the COFO drafting committee meeting. Jan Heino, FAO, explained that given FAO reforms and discussions of COFO’s Steering Committee it was decided to open the meeting to all COFO members as observers. Douglas Kneeland, FAO, said the African region had four members on the committee, since Senegal held the chair.

Chair Duwa introduced two documents, Issues to be brought to the Attention of the 19th Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 2009/7.1) and State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources (FGR) (COFO 2009/8.4). José-Antonio Prado, FAO, discussed the State of the World’s FGR, highlighting: the significance of FGR for SFM, forest conservation and forest adaptation to climate change; the lack of information on FGR; the history of FAO attention to FGR; and the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture’s (CGRFA) proposal to prepare a State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources report to be complete by 2013.

In the ensuing discussion, participants generally supported developing such a report. Mexico highlighted national legal institutions that manage genetic resources.

The Czech Republic, for the EU, stressed broad participation in formulating the report and recommended that technical experts aid COFO’s priority setting.

The US recommended focusing on the most threatened species and genetic diversity and actions to preserve them. She noted that assessment relies on countries in cooperation with relevant regional and global programmes.

South Africa, on behalf of SADC, appealed for FAO support for subregional genetic resources centers.

Malaysia noted, inter alia, the need to strengthen capacity and financial resources to undertake assessment, underscoring food security, biosafety and intellectual property rights. Venezuela advocated a legally binding agreement on distribution of benefits from genetic resources. She stressed ethical principles pertaining to living modified organisms and information exchange on intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge. Brazil said the study should account for forest resource-dependent poor populations and should include financing solutions and political commitments from all countries. Nigeria stressed enhancing poverty alleviation and attaining the Millennium Development Goals. He called for support for agroforestry practices, research and education, and implementation of Global Environment Facility (GEF) programmes.

On the SFM and climate change, delegates listened to three presentations by CPF members. Dennis Garrity, Director-General, World Agroforestry Center, discussed the CPF Strategic Framework for Forests and Climate Change second message, namely that forest-based climate change mitigation and adaption measures should proceed concurrently. He underscored that the livelihoods of the world’s poor need to be the key target of these projects, and called for a focus on programmes, financing and strategies for reducing emissions from all land uses in order to expand the agenda to trees outside forests.

Bill Jackson, Deputy Director-General, IUCN, discussed the CPF Framework’s fourth message, namely that capacity building and governance reforms are urgently required. He warned of growing competition among land uses as forests are used to store carbon. He stressed how collaboration with international and national partners can ensure that reforms are locally appropriate and acceptable and that landscape-level approaches ensure all goals are addressed while allowing for a balance among legitimate trade-offs.

Peter Mayer, Executive Director, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), discussed the CPF Framework’s sixth message, that CPF members are committed to a collaborative and comprehensive approach to forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation. He reviewed various collaborations among CPF members, focusing on IUFRO’s role in forming the Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) and Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP), which is to provide objective and independent scientific input for decisions on key global policy issues. He said the GFEP’s first assessment focuses on adaptation of forests to climate change, noting that a report and policy brief from the process will be released at UNFF 8.

In discussion, Nicaragua stressed links between farmers and trees outside forests, prioritizing food security. Burundi stressed trees outside forests for climate change adaptation and the need for their clear assessment, with FAO support. Tanzania stressed agroforestry’s multiple benefits.

Algeria suggested forest fires be covered under REDD. Mexico called for new indicators to measure and monitor forest fires and awareness-raising on forest fires’ impacts on society. Chile recommended adding language on recomposition and recovery of forests after fires. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) noted that an ad hoc technical expert group on biodiversity-climate linkages is preparing a report on REDD, LULUCF and SFM for UNFCCC COP 15.

The Philippines called for markets to reject illegally logged timber. The Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe advocated awareness-raising for all sectors on SFM’s contribution to broader objectives, calling for recommendations to COP 15. Brazil noted forests are part of a broader range of climate change factors.

Chair González and Jan Heino summarized conclusions for COFO-19’s report.

WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS: Leopoldo Montes, Secretary-General, WFC XIII, discussed WFC XIII, to be held in Buenos Aries, Argentina, from 18-25 October 2009. He noted the special focus on climate change and encouraged delegates to attend. Delegates asked questions on preparations for the event, travel cost grants, and procedures for sponsoring side events.


On Monday morning, prior to the commencement of COFO-19, Jan Heino, ADG, FAO Forestry Department welcomed delegates to a meeting of the Bureaux of the Regional Forestry Commissions to consider: the recent experiences of each regional commission; the host country, possible dates, and potential agenda items of 2010 RFC meetings; and the role of the COFO Steering Committee.

On RFC experiences, the FAO Secretariat for the RFCs, on behalf of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC), noted the critical linkages between forests and water issues and urged members of the CPF to harmonize efforts on forests and climate change. He also requested support for national capacity building and for wildlife, protected areas and wildfire management. Vietnam, for the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), noted the need for capacity building to address the complexities of climate change impacts on forests and to foster adaptable institutions. She underscored the continued detrimental effects of illegal logging and the role of community-based forest management in poverty reduction.

Portugal, for the European Forestry Commission (EFC), supported more attention to forests’ role in climate change mitigation and to the threats from climate change for forest ecosystems. She also noted: the significance of forests in relation to bioenergy; heightened interest in links between water and forests within Europe; and efforts to create a clearinghouse of forest-relevant policies across jurisdictions.

Ecuador, for the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (COFLAC), underscored: the challenges fires create for management and the loss of biodiversity; the need to reduce complexities in developing and implementing REDD projects; and the need for better country accounting of forests’ contributions to economic development and poverty reduction.  Mexico, for the North American Forestry Commission (NAFC), noted the role of forests in mitigating climate change and the need to address forest adaptation to climate change. He advocated more attention to links between forests and water and to forests used for bioenergy.

The FAO Secretariat, on behalf of the Near East Forestry Commission (NEFC), highlighted desertification, wood for energy, and policy development as key challenges for its members. As the least forested region, NEFC emphasized: forests’ relation to rangeland; the need for capacity building concerning fire and wildlife management; the limited forest policies among its members; and the critical nexus of forests and water.

Delegates then discussed: wildfire management alone and in connection with climate change; water resources as an example of broader interest in forest ecosystem services; and concerns over documenting and synthesizing information on forest institutions and policies. Delegates supported more information exchange on policy approaches and greater collaboration across issues.

On the location and timing of 2010 RFC meetings, Heino, said the next COFO will occur in October 2010 due to FAO reforms. RFC meetings are planned for between January and June 2010; tentative dates are: AFWC in February, NEFC in March; COFLAC in May; and APFC in June. The EFC will choose a date at its April meeting; the NAFC will likely meet prior to or following COFLAC’s May meeting.

On the WFW and the COFO Steering Committee, Heino explained both as attempts to connect COFO more with the RFCs, in the case of the Steering Committee, and to engage more with the CPF membership, in the case of the WFW. Delegates supported these efforts.


New for this session, approximately twenty special events were held throughout COFO as part of “World Forest Week.” These events were intended to create a more informal dialogue, with delegates speaking in their personal capacity and not as state representatives, and open to participation by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. However, these events were not officially included in the report of COFO-19.

GROWING FOREST PARTNERSHIPS: On Tuesday, Cath Long, International Institute for Environment and Development, described Growing Forest Partnerships’ (GFP) objective of bridging local and international concerns, noting that forest-dependent groups had expressed concern regarding the World Bank’s FCPF. She described a range of activities undertaken by GFP, including “people’s diagnostics” that will seek to define national objectives and identify lessons learned from past mistakes. She also stressed the role of GFP in improving collaboration of donors, and highlighted “Canopy of Friends,” a web-based documentary of various forest stakeholders voicing their concerns.

Chris Buss, IUCN, described a pilot project underway in Ghana that is being used to support existing institutional structures and provide links to NLBI and REDD consultations.

Participants discussed the funding for this project, which originates from the World Bank, and sought clarification on how this initiative relates to other similar existing forest policy initiatives. Some highlighted the need to resolve conflicts as well as establish partnerships, and the need to institutionalize the concept of “free prior and informed consent” in decision making.

STATE OF THE WORLD’S FOREST GENETIC RESOURCES: On Tuesday, the event on State of the World’s FGR opened with remarks from: Laura Snook, Biodiversity International; Tim Christophersen, CBD; and Dennis Garrity, Director-General, World Agroforestry Centre. They emphasized the critical importance and unique challenges of collecting information on forest genetic resources. Reiner Finkeldey, Göttingen University, emphasized the importance of and threats to forest genetic diversity; our increasing but limited knowledge of genetic resources; and the critical need for international collaboration on the issue. Robert Leakey, James Cook University, discussed the domestication of agroforestry trees, focusing on trees critical to rural livelihoods; and he emphasized the benefit of involving local farmers at all stages of the domestication process. Álvaro Toledo, CGRFA, discussed the Commission’s role and history. Oudara Souvannavong, FAO, discussed the decision and steps to develop the State of the World Forest Genetic Resources report. During questions, participants discussed implications of species’ movements and how to manage these movements.

FRA REPORTING ON SFM AND CLIMATE CHANGE: On Tuesday, José-Antonio Prado, FAO, noted the importance of forest resource information for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Five presentations by FAO officials provided: an overview of the process and scope of the new 2010 FRA; the procedures, limits and benefits of the country-reporting system; the new remote sensing methodology; details of a special study on forest degradation; and the past and future approach for assessing progress towards SFM. Dennis Garrity, Director-General, World Agroforestry Centre, underscored the importance of agroforestry trees and called for attention to reducing emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses.

FUTURE OF PUBLIC FORESTRY RESEARCH: On Wednesday, Peter Mayer, IUFRO, introduced the WFW special event on societal needs and research reality: the future of public forestry research. The keynote speaker, Konstantin von Teuffel, IUFRO, emphasized: the importance of government-managed research; the critical interaction among politicians, scientists and stakeholders in setting research agendas; internal and external considerations for quality research; the need to balance sources of research funding; and emerging challenges and issues for forest research. Four panel members responded. Abigail Kimbell (US) stressed three challenges for the US: the multiple temporal and spatial scales of emerging problems; the interconnected nature of impacts; and the growing importance and scarcity of forest ecosystem services. She also noted challenges with declining attention to core forestry disciplines. Frances Seymour, Director-General, CIFOR, discussed CIFOR’s strategic planning process and stressed the role of stakeholder input in setting research agendas. She also underscored the difficulty of maintaining a long-term approach to research and the need for rigorous policy and programme evaluations, given the urgency of climate change problems. Xiao Wenfa, Chinese Academy of Forestry, explained China’s commitment to funding forest research. He also noted the challenges posed for long-term research in the context of China’s rapid development and the centrality of social considerations for setting research agendas. August Temu, AFORNET, said forests and people are intimately linked in the African context. He also underlined the far-reaching effects of capacity problems, and outlined the value of networks as a practical solution for reaching a critical mass of research expertise.

NEW PERSPECTIVES IN FORESTRY EDUCATION: On Wednesday, Hosny El-Lakany, University of British Columbia, introduced the special event on new perspectives in forestry education. August Temo, AFORNET, reviewed the challenges facing forestry education, given declining enrollment, poor societal understanding of the discipline, and constantly changing societal expectations and demands on forests. He also presented a vision for forestry education built on six principles: resource dynamics, policy, sociology, ecology, economics, and business. Frauke Thorade, president of the International Forestry Students Association, offered students’ perspective on forestry education, highlighting concerns about financing, increasing student-teacher ratios, and curriculum reform. Hosny El-Lakany, for the International Partnership for Forestry Education (IPFE), reviewed IPFE’s history and vision for an ongoing process to evaluate and reform forestry education. Alfredo Mayen, CONAFOR, discussed Mexico’s attempts to use forestry education as a tool to empower and build capacity within rural communities and noted the importance of inter-disciplinary training in this context. In open discussion, many participants underscored the need for flexible educational approaches that are responsive to changing societal expectations and the needs of forest-dependent peoples.

HEADS OF FORESTRY DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE: On Wednesday, this event, chaired by Patrick Durst, FAO, brought together heads of forestry departments to engage in a panel-led dialogue on challenges encountered in the forest sector.

Bhutan highlighted efforts to decentralize control over forests while encouraging a multi-sector approach based on updated forest legislation and policies. Canada highlighted that: fibre and energy markets are tightly linked; a changing climate has increased the incidence of forest fires and pest outbreaks; and rapid urbanization has increased demand for forest protection. Cypress described challenges posed by increased forest fires and desertification, noting that the importance of environmental and social functions of forests has surpassed that of wood production. France described massive changes necessitated by budgetary constraints, including the devolution of forest management responsibilities to local forestry communes.

Guyana described how the Guyana Forest Commission has evolved from a dysfunctional, underfunded and corrupt entity into a more professional and strengthened institution. Senegal shared experiences on the advantages and disadvantages of project-based versus programme-based funding arrangements with external donors. The European State Forest Association, representing state forest organizations from 28 European countries, described its role as a knowledge network and highlighted how exchange among members helps benchmark best practices and expertise in progressing towards SFM of state forests.

During the discussion that followed, delegates exchanged experiences on issues related to evolving and adapting forestry agencies in light of: budgetary constraints; changing societal and stakeholder expectations, needs and activities; shifting government priorities and structures; and environmental stresses, such as climate change, fires, pathogens, and pests. Delegates noted innovations in: agency funding procedures, and programmes; forest laws, including legal reforms, decentralization, and participatory governance; and partnerships with the private sector. Some underscored the importance of institutions’ fit to national and local realities; others stressed the critical importance of adequate and sustained funding, as well as committed and competent people; still others called for continued exchange around these issues, including smaller focused sessions at future COFO sessions.

FIRE AND CLIMATE CHANGE: On Wednesday, José-Antonio Prado, FAO, introduced the panel on the relationship between fire and climate change. Johann Goldammer, Global Fire Monitoring Center, spoke on vegetation fires and climate change interactions. He noted that emissions from fires contribute to global fluxes in greenhouse gases, particulate matter and biogeochemical cycles and that human activities have a stronger impact than climate change on fire regimes but this may change in the near future.

Nora Berrahmouni, World Wide Fund for Nature, spoke on fire management and adaptation to global change in Mediterranean forests. She noted that fires in the region are generally increasing, with two to six additional weeks of fire risk per year in general, and are associated with: less water availability; greater frequency, magnitude, and severity of extreme weather events and impacts; and less humidity in forest biomass.

Tom Harbour, US, said the incidence of fire on US Forest Service lands is declining, but the risk of severe fires, if not caught early, is increasing.

In discussion, participants reported on their own country experiences and expressed interest in capturing the points made at the event for inclusion in the report of COFO-19.

NFMA AND CLIMATE CHANGE: On Wednesday, Greg Reams, US, introduced the event on National Forest Monitoring and Assessment (NFMA) and climate change. Jim Carle, FAO, reported on the NFMA programme, stressing that poor data leads to poor decision-making. He said the NFMA will be integrated into wider FAO reforms and called for more support to enable FAO to assist all the countries requesting NFMA help. Nalin Srivastava, IPCC, spoke on the IPCC Good Practice Guidance for national greenhouse gas inventories and its links to NFMA. He said NFMAs can be done using wall-to-wall measuring or sampling, the choice depending on the output required and resources available. He said FAO is working to define new NFMA methodological approaches compatible with UNFCCC reporting requirements.

Danilo Mollicone, FAO, reported on new NFMA methodologies to meet UNFCCC REDD and IPCC greenhouse gas inventory standards combining ground surveys and remote sensing technology.

Mohammed Saket, FAO, spoke on using NFMA for wider climate change adaptation monitoring of forests and other land uses. He differentiated between national forest assessment for policy processes and strategic planning and forest inventory that collects data for such assessments. He noted many challenges facing developing countries in meeting reporting obligations.

ADVANCING SFM THROUGH GEF: On Thursday, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, provided an overview of GEF’s forest strategy, emphasizing a programmatic, integrated management approach, and described GEF’s SFM programme in the Congo Basin. He listed elements of the draft GEF strategy for its fifth replenishment cycle, to be released in June 2009, including generating sustainable flows of forest ecosystem goods and services and reducing pressure on forests from competing land uses. He noted the GEF’s mandate is derived from the three principle forest-related international conventions.

Mohammed Saket, FAO, presented on Brazil’s new National Forest Inventory (NFI), noting its development by a technical committee through a series of workshops and field work in different forest biomes. He stressed that the NFI aims to: provide a framework for monitoring analysis and decision making; build capacity; facilitate policy reform; and enhance the contribution of SFM to development.

Tiina Vahanen, UN-REDD, said that UN-REDD was developed in response to the Bali Declaration and the call for coordinated UN action on REDD. She described UN-REDD’s roles, including: institutional strengthening; capacity building; supporting local participation; and ultimately, to “help REDD see the light of day.”

Jan McAlpine, Director, UNFF, described UNFF’s unique position of having universal membership, addressing all types of forests, and being the founding organization of the CPF. She noted recent improvements to GEF, such as the inclusion of SFM in core areas of funded work, and said that GEF support for implementation of the NLBI would be a natural fit. She underlined the need to go beyond pilots and projects in the pursuit of transformational change, and that funding must be new and additional and not simply re-allocated.

ITTO THEMATIC PROGRAMMES: On Thursday, Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO, said nearly a thousand projects had been carried out in support of SFM and provided an overview of thematic programmes, on: forest law enforcement, governance and trade; reducing deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing environmental services in tropical forests; community forest management and enterprises; trade and market transparency; and industry development and efficiency.

Eduardo Mansur, ITTO, expressed hope that deforestation and forest degradation can be halted, cautioned against singling out the carbon issue, and said that SFM and REDD go hand in hand. He emphasized that there is no need for institutional competition over REDD, but that country leadership must be demonstrated. Markku Simula, consultant to ITTO, described Thematic Programmes as a strategic instrument to focus ITTO’s work on priority areas. Amha Bin Buang, ITTO, provided an overview of ITTO’s collaborative work with the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including implementation of CITES obligations, in range states, of listed species such as mahogany and ramin.

ACCESS TO FINANCING FOR SFM: On Thursday, Eva Müller, FAO, opened the event on access to financing for SFM by providing an overview of how the changing world is affecting public sector forest institutions (PSFIs) and what the PSFIs can do about it.

Jan McAlpine, Director, UNFF, said climate change is leveraging funding but also competing for existing funds. She questioned the potential of markets and public funding, and noted obstacles including: numerous and complex financing instruments and processes; reorganization of official development assistance towards country priorities such as poverty elimination and food security; and the long-term and uncertain nature of forest investments. She noted gaps in financing for Africa and certain country groups, including: LFCCs; high forest cover, low deforestation countries; and small island developing states. She highlighted mechanisms for strengthening access to financing, including the National Forest Programme Facility and the CPF Sourcebook, and progress on establishing a financing mechanism under the UNFF.

Josué Guardado, El Salvador, reported on El Salvador’s experience in elaborating a forest financing strategy, with new links to the stock market, banks, trust funds, and other private sector actors, for restructuring its PSFI.

Ivan Tomaselli, consultant, recommended improving the business climate by mediating the supra-sectoral, intra-sectoral, and inter-sectoral factors affecting the attractiveness of the forest sector for direct investment. He identified 20 factors for individual countries to rank and measure in terms of their effects on forest business.

In the ensuing discussion, it was underscored that PSFIs must provide forests as public goods even if they are unprofitable to private interests. Participants considered ways of raising awareness of forests’ importance to other sectors, as well as national funding priorities.

NFPF COUNTRY EXPERIENCES: Elías Linares, Cuba, reported on Cuba’s successful National Forest Programme Facility (NFPF) funded project currently under implementation.  Damiana Mann, Paraguay, reported on a multi-stakeholder process in Paraguay to improve its PSFI’s image and undertake a pilot project for REDD. Alisher Shukurov, Uzbekistan, reported on a cross-sectoral process recently begun for better communicating the importance of the forest sector. Zhang Zhongtian, China, reported a successful multi-stakeholder process in China that is currently being extended.

In the ensuing discussion, Lebanon queried how to administer funding for civil society groups, especially for follow-up and evaluation of projects.

Marco Boscolo, FAO, then reported on NFPF work to support development of National Forest Financing Strategies. He lamented the: frequently ad hoc and limited approaches to finance; the wide variation in forest functions, values and actors that require a diverse set of financial sources and mechanisms; and the limited dialogue between the forest sector and others. He called for, inter alia, supportive policies and institutions, clear land tenure, and capacity building for strategic thinking about forest financing.

During the discussion, Burkina Faso reported on its new NFPF partnership. Nepal queried how to develop consensus between stakeholders. Marco Boscolo noted NFPF work on this and said the forest sector can sometimes compete effectively for private funding.

Jerker Thunberg, FAO, noted that 35 of the 70 countries with NFPF partnerships are African. He asked participants to consider how to: improve cross-sectoral integration in the NFP process; maintain NFP leadership on forest-related climate change issues; and improve awareness of the importance of the public goods forests provide.

FOREST ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE: On Thursday, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, opened the WFW special event on tropical forests and adaptation to climate change and introduced three issues for discussion: the potential for and limits of forest adaptation; needed governance reforms; and funding needs. Markku Kanninen, CIFOR, stressed the distinction between forests for adaptation and adaptation for forests and discussed the importance of forest ecosystem services for highly vulnerable economic sectors and peoples. He underscored how ecosystem services are often more effective, efficient and sustainable than infrastructure or technological approaches to adaptation and lamented the lack of linkages between adaptation policies and forest policies. Moujahed Achouri, FAO, discussed the potential and limitations of forest ecosystems in mitigating natural hazards, stressing that forests both provide water services and compete for water with other uses, such as agriculture. Stewart Maginnis, IUCN, stressed the disproportionate impacts of climate change on the livelihoods of the rural and coastal poor and said natural resources offer a solution to these challenges if programmes account for the assets and capacities of local communities. He also emphasized the importance of a landscape-level approach, a strong understanding of the main climate risks, community-driven design and implementation, and a supportive national policy framework, matched to local realities. Tim Christophersen, CBD, said the second meeting of the Ad hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change to be held in Helsinki, Finland from 18-22 April 2009, will address the links between biodiversity, climate change adaptation, and risks and vulnerabilities to inform UNFCCC COP 15. Peter Mayer, IUFRO, discussed the GFEP and the Expert Panel on Adaptation of Forests to Climate Change.

Discussion focused on: the urgency of ensuring that the poorest populations benefit from payments for ecosystem services (PES) and that PES reflects bundles of services; the need to overcome institutional barriers by partnering across state agencies; the importance of forest restoration for climate change mitigation and adaptation; and the danger of a return to single-use forestry in light of growing interest in climate change mitigation.

FAO – CIC WILDLIFE PARTNERSHIP: On Thursday, Jan Heino, FAO, noted the significance of wildlife management issues, the connection between wildlife and forestry, the Partnership’s existing work, and early lessons learned. Kai Wollscheid, CIC, said the FAO is the best-placed organization to be involved in issues of wildlife management. He also reviewed the CIC’s history, achievements, and next steps in building further partnerships. Elisa Morgera, FAO, detailed guidelines for development of national legal frameworks to manage and regulate wildlife use and conservation, stressing the importance of, inter alia, participation, local fit, benefit sharing, and transparency. René Czudek, FAO, presented on FAO-CIC cooperation on best practices in sustainable wildlife management in SADC, highlighting the importance of learning from past initiatives such as the Campfire Programme.

Participants discussed: linkages between the health of forests and wildlife populations; forests and poverty alleviation; methods for reducing human-animal conflicts; and the importance of working across sectors to avoid legislative conflicts.

IMPACTS OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC TURBULENCE: Jan Heino, FAO, expressed concern that the global economic downturn will lead to reductions in investment and in the supply of wood, but added that this could present an opportunity to invest in forest-based job creation, noting this could address climate change at the same time.

Teresa Presas, International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, said the decline of housing markets and consumption has led to a decrease in the demand for wood products, and that the economic impact has been felt mainly in rural areas as processing facilities shut down. She noted that the conversion of forest land to bioenergy and food production has decreased supply of forest products and may drive up the price. She remarked that several countries have already included green measures within their economic stimulus package.

Ivan Tomaselli, consultant, said commodities are the first sector to decline during a recession, and that the lack of capital flow poses a major problem for the forest sector. He said in many developing countries, remittances from migrant labor are declining, and foreign debt is increasing as their currencies undergo devaluation. He concluded by describing the viability of using of plantation establishment to offset unemployment.

Russell Taylor, President, International Markets Group, reviewed the dire situation for the solid wood products market, focusing on the US and Canada. He stressed how unprecedented declines in US housing starts affect the entire supply chain, driving down prices and precipitating mill closures and job and financial losses. On the future, he discussed government programmes for revitalizing the forest sector, casting forest sector investments as “win-win” since they can offer “green” jobs, emphasizing the need to encourage more consumption of forest products.

Abigail Kimbell, US, described the role of the US Forest Service in the US’ economic recovery programme, which draws upon lessons from Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s in building and rebuilding facilities and infrastructure through job creation and training in the cause of conservation.

During the subsequent discussion, Ecuador and Chile noted that many countries understand their national situations and are adopting measures. In response to Australia, Russ Taylor said housing is a lead indicator of recovery in the US, driving the wood and wood products sector. Australia urged the FAO to help countries understand lead and lag indicators and encourage forest industries into new profitable areas.

 The Democratic Republic of Congo, supported by the Gambia, requested guidance, noting that redundant forestry staff is using the forest for subsistence, with negative impacts on fauna. The Gambia queried the lack of regional representation on the panel and noted increases in illegal forest activities. Chile and the Philippines reported on their intense efforts in coping with the crisis. Indonesia noted its forest sector performance has declined by 40% and said it is developing a local wood market and pursuing activities to provide employment.

New Zealand asked how the value of storing carbon in wood products could be accounted for. Teresa Presas responded that valuing carbon stored in wood products requires a carbon market, which could improve the wood industry’s relative competitiveness, and that a formula is needed for this.

Lesotho reported on its integrated watershed programme for tree planting and rehabilitation to increase food production, conserve soil and generate income. Afghanistan said current international instruments are inadequate to overcome the food and finance crises. He queried the cost of creating jobs in sectors such as biofuel.

In conclusion, Tomaselli urged countries to take account of the economic crisis in their fiscal policies. Presas urged countries to start promoting green industry development and small entrepreneurial projects. Kimbell noted that economic recovery provides a boost to the forest sector’s work towards climate change adaptation, community livelihoods, and wildfire management. Taylor stressed the need for government action, saying that future industry investment may be more conservative.

CTS Nair, FAO, asked COFO members to provide feedback on their own situations and experiences.


Kubilay Özyalçin (Turkey), Vice-Chair, opened the closing plenary session on Friday, 20 March, to discuss the date and place of the next COFO session. Doug Kneeland, FAO, reviewed FAO reforms that predicated changing the year and month of the next COFO session, and said COFO-20 is scheduled for October 2010. Ndiawar Dieng (Senegal), Chair of the drafting committee, presented the report for adoption (COFO 2009/REP/Draft).

In open discussion, several delegates asked about the lack of direct attention to wildfire management and stressed the limited attention to LFCCs, particularly because linking SFM to REDD and climate change holds great potential benefits for these countries. Jan Heino, FAO, explained that wildfire is dealt with in the appended FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry and that the LFCCs are addressed via the CPF and FAO collaborations, the NLBI, and the FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry. Douglas Kneeland, FAO, said the FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry has specific mention of technical and policy support for ecosystems in LFCCs and noted that this is why the drafting committee did not include these concerns.

Brazil noted strong consensus within the drafting committee on what to consider in plenary and urged delegates to adopt the report. The Czech Republic, on behalf of the EU, said it had amendments and that it could not support the proposal to adopt the document in total. In response to Afghanistan’s query as to whether members of the drafting committee could request amendments in plenary, the Czech Republic said it clearly outlined its reservations in the drafting meeting and reserved the right to intervene during plenary.

In an item-by-item review of the report, concerns around wildfire resurfaced, with Ecuador asking how SFM-related wildfire management and agroforestry appear in the report and noting that many delegates had spoken on these issues. Iran requested “and regional processes” be added after “organizations” in a paragraph calling for the FAO and other organizations to strengthen member countries’ capacity to respond to climate change. He also said the clause on implementing effective mitigation and adaption measures captures many of the issues discussed at COFO, including fire. Several delegates commented on the CPF’s Strategic Framework. New Zealand stressed the importance of this paragraph, noting that it was not changed because it came directly from the CPF Framework. Brazil supported New Zealand and called for the report’s adoption.

In response to a comment from Ecuador, Jan Heino, FAO, said both wildfire and agroforestry are considered in the FAO Strategy. Douglas Kneeland, FAO, added that the FAO Strategy includes “organizational results” attending to these issues, such as support for improved forest fire management through community-based approaches. Paraguay said its question of funding for SFM remained unanswered. New Zealand noted a paragraph on the need for sufficient and external financial resources for SFM.

On the report’s summary of discussions on shaping an action programme for FAO in forestry, the Czech Republic, on behalf of the EU, proposed to move text referring to the fact that the process of priority-setting in FAO is work in progress into a paragraph on the FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry. Many countries raised objections, with Ecuador pointing out that the Strategy for Forests and Forestry cannot be revised by the committee working on FAO reforms. Australia queried whether the EU’s disagreement with the text referred to recommending the use of technical experts in the FAO’s priority-setting process, which was not mentioned in either paragraph. The Czech Republic responded that he had reserved his overall position within the drafting group’s discussions. He ultimately withdrew the proposal so as not to block consensus on the report.

There were no other comments on the report.

COFO-19 REPORT: The report of COFO-19, as adopted during the closing plenary, contains the following elements:

  • On the new 2009 edition of The State of the World’s Forests, the Committee welcomed its publication, stressing that the world faces unprecedented challenges.
  • On SFM and climate change, the Committee welcomed the CPF’s Strategic Framework for Forests and Climate Change, which emphasizes the need for countries and international organizations to work to implement SFM as an effective framework for forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Committee also urged members to deliberate on national and international responses of the forestry sector to climate change and recommended that FAO and other organizations strengthen members’ capacities to implement SFM, such as in developing effective responses to climate change.
  • On adapting forest policy and institutions to change, the Committee noted economic, political, social, environmental, and technological changes taking place and the consequent need to adapt forest policies and institutions, and recommended that FAO intensify efforts to provide timely support for this.
  • On decisions and recommendations of FAO bodies of interest to the Committee, the Committee supported the recommendation of the CGFRA and the FAO Panel of Experts on Forest Genetic Resources that FAO prepare a report on the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources for 2013.
  • On shaping an action programme for FAO in forestry, the Committee endorsed the new FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry, clarifying that it refers to governance “at all levels” and adding references to forest genetic resources and to innovation, and acknowledged the alignment of the Strategy with the FAO Strategic Framework and Medium-Term Plan. The Committee also noted with appreciation the efforts of the FAO Secretariat to implement results-based management and stressed the importance of having documents available that will make it possible to discuss the setting of priorities, expressing its intention to suggest establishing priorities for the forestry sector in the FAO Programme of Work and Budget for 2012-2013 in accordance with FAO’s ongoing reform process. The Committee also supported the recommendation of the Independent External Evaluation of FAO to increase the share of the overall FAO budget allocated to forestry.

Jan Heino, FAO, remarked that there were, at rough count, 555 participants at this session of COFO and the first WFW. He noted that the ongoing FAO reform is part of a culture change to become more responsive and client-oriented than before, and, as part of this, called for nominations for forestry experts to participate in a global network on food security that is being established. Noting that institutions have to learn and adapt to change to ensure that they remain relevant, he called for the dialogue on FAO member needs and FAO functions to continue. Finally, he thanked the many people who had worked to plan this meeting, and wished participants a safe journey home.

The Chair closed the meeting at 4:03 pm.


Was it only two years ago that all eyes at COFO were on the United Nations Forum on Forests’ (UNFF) negotiations of a non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on forests? This may have been true for COFO-18 in 2007, yet in 2009 the NLBI and the upcoming UNFF 8 were overshadowed by major external factors affecting forests. The anticipated attention forests will receive in the establishment of a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) at the UNFCCC COP 15 later this year, presents high stakes for the forest sector. Job and financial losses, due to the global economic crisis, moreover, mean the stakes are that much higher. On the other hand, COFO-19 was also about managing internal change, resulting from FAO-wide reforms and updates to FAO’s Strategic Plan for Forestry, requested by COFO-18 and carried out over the past two years. On these issues, some delegates pressed for more power over budgetary priorities, yet, in the end, the internal debates were secondary to the concerns and discussions about forests’ hoped for a role in the post-2012 climate regime.

This analysis reflects on these parallel tracks, examining how COFO-19 addressed a process of change set in motion by broader FAO reforms while concurrently responding to and focusing attention on the larger challenges and opportunities confronting the forest sector.


COFO-19 highlighted changes that have been ongoing within the FAO over the past several years. Begun in 2005 with a commissioned Independent External Evaluation, FAO reforms were laid out in an Immediate Plan of Action adopted in November 2008, which set out a “results-based framework” for FAO reforms. Work on the FAO Strategy for Forests and Forestry overlapped with these broader changes, and the two processes intertwined during discussions at COFO-19. Added to this, COFO-19, for the first time, included a concurrent World Forest Week (WFW), which aimed to open discussions to a broader set of issues and participants in a less formal setting.

It was around these various processes, and the changes they entailed, that confusion centered. While WFW events were technically not considered in the final report, there was no stark functional distinction made between these and the formal plenary sessions, and in the end the lines blurred. Some of the same messages were heard more than once or even twice, leading to redundancy, while holding events concurrently made it tricky to take it all in. Ultimately, COFO was effective in delivering its messages and accomplished what it set out to do. It gave guidance for FAO’s forestry activities into the next decade, and although some dissent was voiced on issues relating to prioritizing work and power over budgets, and questions over what kinds of meetings make the best use of forestry department heads’ time, these difficulties were minor. This was partly because delegates had bigger things on their minds, like climate change.


From the outset of COFO-19, the focus on climate change and the role forests ought to and need to play in both mitigation and adaptation was clear. These concerns have resulted in an unprecedented potential for much-needed financing for forest management activities. Indeed, many delegates took the opportunity to push for expanding the scope of the REDD mechanism to ensure financing for their country (e.g., those with high forest cover but low rates of deforestation, or arid countries that wish to pursue agroforestry in the interest of food security). However, a big risk on a number of delegates’ minds at COFO was not that REDD will be too narrow but that the effort to open it up may render it as unwieldy and disappointing as financing for forests through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism has been.

In addition, as many indicated during the session, only focusing on securing finance poses an equivalent risk to forests particularly if care is not taken to account for the range of values forests provide. A main thrust of this session was, therefore, how to get “sustainable forest management” (SFM) included in the post-2012 climate agreement. As the US delegation said: “I will put this as plainly as I can: no SFM, no REDD. We must pursue these two goals concurrently and holistically.” This position was echoed throughout the meeting as the emerging consensus insisted that foresters must present a united front for Copenhagen, to get REDD into the post-2012 climate regime and get SFM into REDD.

SFM itself is not uncontested. It has been the subject of much debate due to the wide range of possible outcomes it can lead to. While it can offer benefits when used to restore degraded lands, for instance, some worry that the term can be used euphemistically to justify logging in primary forests or converting primary forests to plantations. This ambiguity about the outcomes of SFM as well as the challenge of measuring SFM’s carbon impacts has meant REDD negotiations have so far not taken SFM on board. Despite these concerns over the uncertainties surrounding SFM, at COFO-19 they were overshadowed by the fear that forests could be left out of the post-2012 climate regime.

This theme of harmony was also apparent in contributions of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a partnership of 14 forest-related international organizations, to the plenary and WFW events at COFO-19. Several speeches and special events were dedicated to reviewing what actions various partners in the CPF are undertaking in relation to the six key messages of the Strategic Framework on Forests and Climate Change that cover issues including forests and climate adaptation and mitigation. Yet in all these cases, it remains to be seen whether this unity can be sustained going forward, especially given the high stakes for all involved. 


Although climate change was the central point of discussion during the session, the global economic crisis also drew attention. It was presented as a serious challenge and an equally important opportunity. Even before delegates arrived in Rome, FAO released a draft working paper “Creating Forestry Jobs to Build a Better Future” to signal the role SFM can play in responding to the economic crisis, noting the possibility that SFM could create 10 million new jobs. Plenary speeches and a WFW special event picked up this theme.

The crisis has, indeed, left the forest sector reeling from job and financial losses and many forest departments experiencing budgetary cutbacks, with worse predicted still to come. This has raised the stakes even higher for obtaining financing for forest conservation and management through the climate regime. Since many countries have been passing stimulus packages and looking for “shovel-ready” projects to generate employment opportunities, foresters are hoping to attract a share of the funding. Although not all delegates anticipated having access to economic-recovery funds, there was broad agreement that forestry should be put forward as part of the solution to the world’s financial woes.


Despite the tensions created by concerns over the changes taking place, both outside the forest sector and within the FAO itself, the atmosphere was generally convivial by the end of COFO-19. Much is left to be determined between now and December 2009 when some type of decision on REDD is expected in Copenhagen, and it is not clear whether the global economy will recover any time soon, green stimulus packages or not. It also remains to be seen if the united front, which sent a strong message to the climate community regarding the need to include forests within the climate change regime, that emerged from COFO-19 can be sustained through to Copenhagen and beyond.


EXPERT MEETING ON METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES RELATING TO REFERENCE EMISSION LEVELS AND REFERENCE LEVELS: This meeting will be held from 23-24 March 2009, in Bonn, Germany, as part of the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice’s programme of work on methodological issues and will consider: referencing emission levels for deforestation and forest degradation; and the role and contribution of conservation, SFM, changes in forest cover and associated carbon stocks to enhance action on mitigation of climate change and to the consideration of reference levels. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

SECOND MEETING OF THE CBD AHTEG ON BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: The second meeting of the Ad hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change is organized by the CBD Secretariat and will be held from 18-22 April 2009, in Helsinki, Finland. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UN FORUM ON FORESTS (UNFF 8): This session will be held from 20 April - 1 May 2009, at UN headquarters in New York. Agenda items to be covered include: working to reach agreement on a decision for voluntary global financial mechanisms; a portfolio approach for financing SFM; and a forest financing framework. For more information, contact: UNFF Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-3401; fax: +1-917-367-3186; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

LIGNA+ 2009: This World Fair for the Forestry and Wood Industries will be held from 18-22 May 2009, in Hannover, Germany. It is an international meeting for woodworking and wood processing industries involving an array of presentations, seminars, symposia and conferences to foster integral networking and knowledge transfer. For more information, contact: Figen Günay; tel: +49-511-89-32126; fax: +49-511-89-31263; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES: This session will be held from 18-29 May 2009, at UN headquarters in New York. It will consider the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and will host a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples and other special rapporteurs. For more information, contact: the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; tel: +1-917-367-5100; fax: +1-917-367-5102; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

IUFRO CONFERENCE ON EXTENDING FOREST INVENTORY AND REMOTE SENSING AND TIME: This meeting will be held from 19-22 May 2009 in Quebec City, Canada. It will be an opportunity for academics, governments, industry and non-governmental organizations to understand and discuss the role and importance of earth observation satellites in providing unbiased, precise, timely and cost-effective information on forests that is useful to decision-makers. For more information, contact: Dr. Ronald E. McRoberts; tel: 1+651-649-5174; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:  

SECOND WORLD CONGRESS ON AGROFORESTRY: This meeting will be held from 23-28 August 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya. The Congress theme is “Agroforestry – The Future of Global Land Use.” Plenary, symposia, and concurrent and poster sessions are planned around major topics, including: markets as opportunities and drivers of agroforestry land use; tree-based rehabilitation of degraded lands and watersheds; climate change adaptation and mitigation; and policy options and institutional innovations for agroforestry land use. For more information, contact: Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Centre; tel: +254-20-722-4000; fax: +254-20-722-4001; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

XIII WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS: This event will be held from 18-23 October 2009, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Attendees will hear presentations on a wide range of issues related to forests, biodiversity and development and have the opportunity to participate in technical tours and attend side events organized by countries and organizations on forestry issues. For more information, contact: WFC Secretariat; tel: +54-11-4349-2104; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

DECENTRALIZATION, POWER AND TENURE RIGHTS OF FOREST-DEPENDENT PEOPLE: This symposium will be held from 27-28 October 2009, in Dahod, Gujarat, India. The event aims to share recent research experiences of participants and to review state-of-the-art approaches for forest-dependent indigenous peoples, tribes, and pastoralists regarding: decentralization policies and local forest institutions; power and political position of forest-dependent peoples; and legislative recognition of forest tenure rights. The abstract submission deadline is 10 April 2009. For more information, contact: Purabi Bose; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

ITTC-45: The forty-fifth meeting of the International Tropical Timber Council and associated sessions of its four committees is scheduled for 9-14 November 2009, in Yokohama, Japan. For more information, contact: ITTO; tel: +81-45-223-1110; fax: +81-45-223-1111; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

UNFCCC COP 15 AND KYOTO PROTOCOL COP/MOP 5: The fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and fifth meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are scheduled to take place from 7-18 December 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark. These meetings will coincide with the 31st meetings of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies. Under the “roadmap” agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007, COP 15 and COP/MOP 5 are expected to finalize an agreement on a framework for combating climate change post-2012 (when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends). For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

XXIII IUFRO WORLD CONGRESS:  This event will take place from 23-28 August 2010 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The theme for the event is “Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment.” For more information, contact: Korea Forest Research Institute; tel: +82-2-961-2591; fax: +82-2-961-2599; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

CBD COP 10: The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity is scheduled for 18-29 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. It is expected to assess achievement of the 2010 target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss, adopt an international regime on access and benefit-sharing and celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: [email protected]; internet:

TWENTIETH SESSION OF THE FAO COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY (COFO): The 20th session of the FAO Committee on Forestry will convene at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy in October 2010. For more information, contact: FAO Forestry Department; tel: +39-06-5705-3925; fax: +39-06-5705-31 52; email: [email protected]; internet:

Further information