UNFF-2: Second Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests
UN Headquarters || 4-15 March 2002
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Day 5: Friday, 8 March

In the General Assembly Hall, Working Group I spent the day discussing low forest cover countries, (LFCCs); rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands and promotion of natural and planted forests; enhanced cooperation and policy and programme coordination; and proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005. Informal consultations were held on preparations for the high-level ministerial segment. Photo, above right: there was some confusion on Friday morning as delegates tried to figure out which group would be meeting in which room...

Working Group I:
combating deforestation and forest degradation

Delegates in Working Group I began the day by discussing Progress in Implementation of Rehabilitation and Conservation Strategies for Countries with Low Forest Cover (E/CN.18/2002/7). Bai-Mass Taal, UNEP (above right), opened the discussion with a summary of the report. On the left is Hossein Moeni Meybodi (Iran), Chair of Working Group I.
Listen to UNEP's introduction
 
< Costa Rica, on behalf of Central America, said that regional deforestation is increasing and that a Central American strategy is being developed to reverse the problem.
Listen to Costa Rica's statement
 
< Papua New-Guinea said plantations can be used to increase forest cover in highly populated areas.
 
< Turkey said that whatever forested areas did exist in LFCC should be the object of special study and protection.
 
< Michael Martin, FAO, introduced the report of the Secretary General on rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands and the promotion of natural and planted forests (E/CN.18/2002/3). Noting that an estimated 2.6 billion people are affected by land degradation and desertification, he underscored deforestation and overexploitation of woodland as important causes. He noted the lack of reliable data on planted forests and secondary forests as a serious constraint in managing those resources, and underscored tools to sustainably manage natural and planted forests, including forest certification, environmental and social impact assessment, and participatory planning. .
Listen to FAO's presentation
 
Chair Meybodi recapitulates the debate on rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands and the promotion of natural and planted forests
 
< The US said that it is still looking for some indication of what to expect from this process. She agreed with the identification of wild fires, forest law enforcement and valuation of ecosystem services as priority issues.
Listen to USA's statement
 
< G-77/CHINA said that it was dissatisfied with the extent of donor support on the question of rehabilitation and conservation in LFCCs; that forests play a subsistence role in many LFCCs and must be enhanced; and that a definition of LFCC would facilitate this. It then presented alternate text for a number of the report's "points for discussion."
Listen to G-77/China's statement
 
< Greenpeace offered a general statement on the cross-cutting nature of trade liberalization and UNFF. He urged UNFF to request that the World Trade Organization support certification in its trade rules and seek observer status at the WTO.
Listen to Greenpeace's statement
 
< Ghana said that plantation forestry is used to restore forest reduction in his country and that land tenure and benefit sharing are being addressed in this regard. .
Listen to Ghana's statement
 
Chair Meybodi recapitulates the debate on rehabilitation and conservation strategies for LFCCs
   
As per a notification given on 7 March, delegates discussed Proposed Revisions to the Medium-term Plan for the period 2002-2005. Jag Maini, Head of the UNFF Secretariat, presented the paper which proposed to include a new sub-programme 9 entitled "Sustainable Forest Development" within the purview of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Subprogramme 9 refers directly to UNFF.
Listen to Maini's presentation
   
< Hosni El-Lakany, CPF Chair, presented the next agenda item entitled Enhanced Cooperation and Policy Programme Coordination, a progress report on the workings of the CPF. He said that the CPF had agreed on its working modalities, including a focal agency system that would coordinate the activities of the CPF members.
Listen to CPF's presentation
 
Informal consultations:
preparations for the high-level ministerial segment
 
Delegates meet in intimate Conference Room 8 to discuss the ministerial statement, to be issued at the end of next week's high-level segment. Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria) chaired the group.

Side event: What can forestry mean for the WTO?

In a side event hosted by the World Trade Organization, Erik Wijkström, WTO Trade and Environment Division (right), offered UNFF-2 some general remarks on how forestry may be relevant to the WTO, noting in particular how forest issues might fit within the WTO framework. He also outlined the environmental references in the recent WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration. To begin, Wijkström stressed that the WTO is a member-driven organization and that WTO membership has not made forestry a priority issue as yet. He said that with the exception of tariff peaks and escalations, forest products encounter relatively low border tariffs. On the question of subsidies, Wijkström mentioned that forestry subsidies per se have not been an issue at the WTO. He did mention, however, the current WTO dispute between CANADA and the US over the unilateral application of US trade remedy law against Canadian softwood lumber. In this case, Canada alleges that the application of US trade remedy law against its softwood lumber imports contravenes the WTO rules. The US justifies the levy on the grounds that Canada is subsidizing forest production through its forest management regime.

Following this discussion, Wijkström highlighted a recent upward trend in the use of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) following a general reduction of tariffs and subsidies. He then explained how each agreement may affect the trade in forest products. Of particular relevance to the UNFF discussion is the question of forest product certification and eco-labelling more generally. As it stands, the WTO rules remain ambiguous on the issue of eco-labelling, or non-product PPMs (non-product related process and production methods).

Wijkström finished his presentation with a brief description of the environmental references in the Doha Declaration (a Ministerial decision reached at the WTO's most recent Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001 which formally launched a new round of multilateral trade negotiations). He noted five specific references:

- A reference to sustainable development in the Declaration chapeau (paragraph 6);
- An obligation for WTO member states to begin negotiating the MEA-trade relationship (paragraph 31);
- A strengthened mandate for the WTO Committee of Trade and Environment (CTE) to examine the eco-labelling issue (paragraph 32);
-
A reference to technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries (paragraph 33); and
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A reference to the CTE's role as the forum to review all environment related issues in the negotiations (paragraph 51).

The ensuing discussion focused mainly on logistical matters pertaining to external transparency and NGO participation at the WTO.


Side event: Forest Terminology & Definitions: Ongoing Activities of IUFRO, FAO and CIFOR

Presented by the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Renata Pruller, Coordinator of IUFRO’s Terminology Project (right), described the Union’s SilvaVoc clearinghouse project on multilingual forest terminology. She discussed some of the terminology problems facing the forestry sector, such as the variety of definitions, the changing nature of concepts, the use of English as the lingua franca of science and the problems this presents for non-native speakers, the constant creation of new terms (neologisms) and the varying audiences that attempt to use the same terms. She said the SilvaVoc project united over 15,000 forest experts into working units, and she highlighted the “6.03.02 - trends in forest terminology” group. She invited all to visit SilvaVoc’s multilingual website (http://iufro.boku.ac.at/iufro/silvavoc/), and highlighted its bibliography section and the SilvaTerm online database.

Gyde Lund, Integrated Resources Inventories and Assessment Consultants (left), highlighted the different means that terms such as afforestation and deforestation can have, and illustrated how some countries do not even agree on the definition of what constitutes a tree. Because countries and organization often use different thresholds in the definition of forests (in terms of height, density, land use, etc), he said that nearly every nation’s estimates on their forest cover would need adjusting before they can be compared.
He described the work of the “6.03.02 - trends in forest terminology” group, and concluded by saying there was a need for consistent use of terminology in the forest sector especially at the international level.

Tiina Vahanen, Forestry Information and Liaison Unit, FAO (right), reported on the experts meeting on harmonizing forest-related definitions held in Rome from 23-25 January 2002. She said that the meeting brought together 52 participants to starting a process on achieving common understanding and harmonization on certain forestry terms, particularly those used by the FCCC, CBD and CCD. The purpose of the exercise was to increase consistency, strengthen coordination among conventions and processes, facilitate negotiations and ease reporting burden of countries. She described the procedure used to harmonize terms:
- selection of a few priority terms and concepts
- arrangement in a matrix
- comparison and analysis of differences
- adaptation for convergence, if feasible
- harmonization
The conclusions of the meeting were: that harmonization reduces reporting burden, that existing definitions should be used and adjusted if feasible instead of creating new ones, and that the definitions used in Global Forestry Resource Assessment 2000 and in the Kyoto are largely compatible with the exception of “reforestation”. She said that the second experts meeting on harmonizing forest-related definitions will be held in August 2002 and will submit its results to relevant international bodies and fora.

John Poulsen, CIFOR, described an ongoing informal discussion entitled "A typology of planted forests". He said that inconsistencies in categories definitions and in reporting can mask differences in quality and quantity of tree cover. He noted the socio-economic and ecological implication of different types of tree covers and stated that not all planted forests are plantations. He then presented a proposed typology for planations (please refer to CIFOR website for the document).

For more information:
http://iufro.boku.ac.at/
http://iufro.boku.ac.at/iufro/silvavoc/
http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/
http://www.fao.org/forestry/

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