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Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests
Photos and RealAudio of 4 February
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4 February:
On Friday, 4 February, delegates met in a Plenary session to consider the Co-Chairs' draft proposal for an international arrangement on forests (Category III). Working Group 1 continued to negotiate bracketed text on TFRK, Working Group 2 convened briefly to hear updates on contact groups' progress, and the contact group on EST met. The contact group on finance met on Saturday
The Friday afternoon Plenary was held in Conference Room 2. Previously, the IFF-4 Plenary sessions had all been held in the Trusteeship Council chambers >>


Afternoon Plenary: Co-chair's Draft Text on Category III

Co-Chair Ristimäki (left) introduced the Co-Chairs' text on an international arrangement on forests, emphasizing it is intended to facilitate negotiations. The text proposes the establishment of: a UN Forest Council (UNFC), under the aegis of the CSD or the GA, to meet biannually to build consensus, monitor progress, and coordinate and develop policy; a UN Partnership on Forests (UNPF) comprised of international and regional organizations and financial institutions that address forests; a steering committee, with a structure similar to the ITFF; and a small secretariat.

The EU questioned how the UNFC could strengthen commitment to SFM and stressed the need for developing a participatory approach. The EU reiterated its preference for negotiating an LBI and lamented the omission of an international agreement from the proposed work programme for the UNFC.
The G-77/CHINA said that the draft text focuses on coordination and policy development functions in isolation of financial resources and deemed the proposal to reallocate funds from the UN budget and from existing organizations inadequate. He stressed the need for financial resources either through the establishment of a global forest fund or strengthening of the GEF.
CANADA proposed a two- track approach: a transitional phase during which the proposed UNFC would concentrate on implementing the IPF/IFF proposals for action; and the establishment of an international negotiating committee (INC) to develop a convention to cover all functions and elements identified by the IFF.

AUSTRALIA accepted the draft proposal as a basis for discussion. He cautioned that negotiating an LBI would only divert attention from achieving sustainable forestry management.

BRAZIL supported giving coordination, implementation and policy development equal importance; better addressing monitoring of progress; and seeking stronger political commitment toward SFM. He noted that there is not enough consensus or knowledge to launch a negotiating process for a LBI.

NEW ZEALAND called for a lighter institutional structure and opposed references to a new LBI, noting that negotiation of an LBI would impede action toward SFM and implementation of existing arrangements.

SWITZERLAND supported the preparation of a LBI and argued that the proposed structure, if implemented, would fall short of carrying out many IPF proposals for action.

Side-event: "Planting Problems: Trees, Carbon, Money, People and Power"

Miguel Lovera Rivas (left) of FRIENDS OF THE EARTH-Paraguay chaired an NGO side event on planting problems, organized by the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and Friends of the Earth International.

Ricardo Carrere (above center) from the WORLD RAINFOREST MOVEMENT-Uruguay (http://www.wrm.org.uy) discussed the environmental and social impacts of large-scale tree plantations. He said plantations cannot replace the biodiversity and multiple functions of forests, therefore they are not attractive to fauna and local communities and do not improve the environment. He demonstrated negative impacts of plantations, including soil exhaustion due to monoculture. He said plantations exacerbate deforestation because local communities in search of food and plants migrate and clear new forests.
In this RealAudio segment, Larry Lohmann (top photo, on the left) from WRF-UK raises new issues in mitigating climate change and describes two categories on conflicts which arise from the use of plantations as carbon sinks.

In other presentations, Hernan Verscheure (second photo, on the right), Friends of the Earth-Chile spoke of the impacts of plantations on poor communities in Chile, as outlined in a recently published case study. Simone Lovera (left) from Friends of the Earth-Paraguay discussed consumption patterns, incentives and subsidies as they relate to plantations. Marcus Colchester (not shown) from the Forest Peoples Program-UK talked about indigenous peoples' rights and deforestation.


Side event: National presentations - Turkey and Australia

Yavuz Yüksel (right), representing Turkey, overviewed projects for the profitable rehabilitation of degraded forest areas in Turkey using grafting techniques. He highlighted tangible ecological and economic benefits from such projects, including manifold returns on investment.

Below, from left ot right: Gary Dolman (Australia), Don Wijewardana (New Zealand), and John Lowe (South Pacific Forum) presented results from a South Pacific Sub-Regional Workshop on issues related to the IFF. The countries from the region recommend the establishment of a permanent forum for policy implementation and coordination, and strengthening existing binding and non-binding instruments.


In the corridors: 
Some delegates speculate that some developed countries are hoping to stretch out discussions on financial resources until they have a clear picture whether or not there will be a legally binding instrument on forests. There is further speculation that the developed countries in question do not wish to reveal to their developing country colleagues that they have little additional funds to offer, fearing that this may change attitudes toward a LBI.
<< The ENB's Ian Fry having a word with Adam Delaney, delegate of Papua New Guinea, after the close of the afternoon Plenary.

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