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Forests, Deserts, Land


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December 2005

DIALOGUE CONSIDERS WAYS TO REDUCE FOREST CONFLICT IN ASIA

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Forests Dialogue (TFD) have co-sponsored a dialogue aimed at “Building Partnerships to Reduce Forest Conflict in Asia.” The meeting convened from 1-2 December 2005 in Washington, DC, during which participants heard presentations in three focal areas: country case studies and perspectives; trends affecting forest conflict; and potential actions to reduce forest conflict, including positive results and lessons learned. Among the key themes to arise were participants' agreement about the need to establish clear and unambiguous national-level standards for legal and conflict-free forest products that can be internationally recognized. Participants also agreed on the importance of empowering forest communities to understand and obtain their legal rights to land and forest resources and to take an active role in monitoring and enforcing forest use regulations. Raising awareness in consumer countries was also supported. In addition, participants highlighted the implications of developing country growth on Asian and African forests and recommended roles for the private sector, NGOs, and government to address these themes. Links to further information ARD's web site

November 2005

COUNTRY-LED FORESTRY INITIATIVE SCOPES OUT VOLUNTARY INSTRUMENT, IMPLEMENTATION, REGIONAL ISSUES

Issues related to a voluntary instrument, implementation, and regional activities for the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) have been discussed during a recent meeting in Berlin, Germany. Over 186 experts from 87 countries and over 20 organizations, international institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), met from 16-18 November 2005 for a country-led initiative in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) on “Scoping for a Future Agreement on Forests.” The objective of the event was to contribute towards the preparations for UNFF-6 in order to help it achieve a consensus. Participants drew from the Chair's text of UNFF-5 to explore and develop further some of the concepts and ideas on the future of the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF). A Co-Chairs' Report was developed on the basis of the discussions and will be forwarded to the UNFF Secretariat prior to UNFF-6. IISDRS coverage.
WORKSHOP ON ILLEGAL LOGGING EXAMINES RELATED POLITICAL PROCESSES

A workshop on illegal logging has been held to provide an overview of relevant political processes. The workshop on “Combating Illegal Harvesting of Forest Products and Related Trade in Europe” convened in Madrid, Spain from 3-4 November 2005 to consider relevant processes, such as the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) approach for Africa and Asia and the G8 process. Participants at this Ministerial Conference on the Protection of the Forests of Europe (MCPFE) workshop developed a number of recommendations, including calls for: a definition of illegal logging by countries and the areas of their legislation applicable to combating illegal logging and related trade; the development of wood tracking systems and schemes based on common principles; and the development of public-private partnerships that work with suppliers and importers as well as cooperation between agencies such as customs authorities and investigation agencies concerned with organized crimes. Workshop participants agreed to transmit the workshop's outputs to the Europe and North Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENA FLEG) Ministerial Conference, which met from 22-25 November 2005 in St. Petersburg, Russia. More information.
FORESTS DIALOGUE DEVELOPS INPUT TO ENA FLEG MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

The Forests Dialogue (TFD), a multi-stakeholder process between civil society and business leaders focusing on sustainable forest management, has convened a meeting in preparation for the Europe and North Asia (ENA) Forest Law Enforcement Governance (FLEG) Ministerial Conference. The dialogue on illegal logging, which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 2-3 November 2005, developed eight recommendations for the 22-25 November 2005 Ministerial Conference, which will also take place in St. Petersburg. The recommendations include: legal, equitable and sustainable forest management should be the ultimate goal of the ENA FLEG process; forest governance is a societal responsibility, however governments have the key role in creating an enabling environment; a good governance framework is fundamental to legal, equitable and sustainable forest management; corruption must be openly recognized and directly addressed as an urgent priority; partnerships between responsible forest industry and civil society have led to innovation and taken the lead in establishing best practice; consumers and producers share responsibility to support the market for legal and sustainable forest products in ways which avoid penalizing legal operations; governments must commit to develop a time bound follow-up program for implementing the declaration and indicative action plan; and bilateral and multilateral cooperation involving consuming, donor and producer countries will play a critical role in supporting the development and time-bound implementation of National Action Plans (NAP). Link to further information Co-chairs' summary

October 2005

Desertification Conference Makes Limited Progress on Convention Implementation

28 October 2005: The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) has completed its deliberations without reaching a decision on all measures discussed. Nearly 1000 participants gathered at the UN Office at Nairobi, Kenya, from 17-28 October 2005, to review the implementation of the Convention, develop the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UNCCD and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), adopt the programme and budget for the 2006-2007 biennium, and review the recommendations in the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) of the United Nations, among other agenda items. Parties' discussions on the proposal to include an additional agenda item on the procedure for the selection of an Executive Secretary and regarding regional coordination units ended without the adoption of a decision. Parties reported that the COP's outcomes did not meet their expectations, and therefore the meeting was not deemed successful in moving forward the Convention's implementation. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage]

September 2005

UNECE TIMBER COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS CLIMATE-FOREST LINKS

The UNECE Timber Committee has noted the role of the Kyoto Protocol in highlighting the need for better communication on the “multiple positive roles of forests and wood in carbon cycles.” The Timber Committee, which met in Geneva for its 63rd session from 27-30 September 2005, also analyzed the current forest products market situation in 2005 and forecast markets for 2006. Among the Committee's overall findings were that: timber markets continue at record levels in the subregions of the UNECE – CIS, Europe and North America; governments, civil society and industry are working together to address illegal logging and the trade of illegally derived products, public procurement policies, certification, corporate responsibility, “green building” and improved communication; and catastrophic windstorms in 2005 in the Baltic Sea region and the hurricanes in the Gulf region of the United States caused extensive forest damage with subsequent effects on primary wood products production and trade patterns. On 30 September 2005, the Timber Committee adopted a “Statement on Forest Products Markets in 2005 and Prospects for 2006,” which reviews the overall forest market and identifies market sector developments. The Statement.
POLICY FORUM DISCUSSES SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) European Forestry Commission convened on 29 September 2005 to discuss governments' roles in forest certification for sustainable forest management. Participants at this one-day policy forum concluded, among others, that governments should endeavor to remain neutral between competing schemes, and governments and stakeholders should refocus on the commonly shared objective of promoting sustainable forest management and grasp the opportunity to promote the sound us of wood through certification. Participants also expressed concern about the competition between certification schemes, the differences between public procurement policies in different countries, and the lack of information on production, consumption and trade of certified forest products. Link to further information UNECE press release, 4 October 2005

July 2005

THIRD PART OF THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR A SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT TO THE ITTA, 1994 DEFERS RESOLUTION TO FOURTH MEETING

The third part of the United Nations Conference for the Negotiation of a Successor Agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994 (ITTA, 1994) has deferred resolution of contentious issues, including finance, operational activities, statistics and information, and entry into force of the new Agreement, until a fourth part of the UN Conference, which they agreed would meet from 16-20 January 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland. The third part convened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 June to 1 July 2005, and focused on the thematic areas of scope and finance for the new Agreement. Over 180 governments, international organizations and an intergovernmental body negotiated outstanding text in the final working document from the second part of the UN Conference. They approved informally over 20 articles of the Agreement, but the Vice-President of the Conference expressed concern about the small amount of flexibility shown by participants, and the dates for a fourth part were set. Full coverage.

June 2005

EUROPE AND NORTH ASIA FOREST CONFERENCE PREPARES FOR MINISTERIAL MEETING

A preparatory meeting has been held to lay the groundwork for a high-level meeting of the Europe and North Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENA FLEG) process. The Preparatory Conference for the Ministerial meeting of the ENA FLEG process has held initial negotiations in support of a regional Declaration and Indicative Action Plan, to be adopted at an ENA Ministerial meeting in late 2005. Over 130 participants from 32 countries representing governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, industry and an intergovernmental body met at the Preparatory Conference in Moscow, Russia, from 6-8 June 2005. The event was co-hosted by the World Bank and the Government of the Russian Federation, with financial support from eight international donors. Participants discussed regional and national experiences and emerging ENA FLEG issues, heard views from a range of stakeholders, and began drafting a Ministerial Statement and Indicative Plan of Action. Key themes included: experiences in the ENA region; legislation and regulatory frameworks for improved forest governance; information and transparency; verification and legality of forest products; enterprise and forest management; forest governance and livelihoods; and integration with existing processes. The Ministerial meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place from 22-25 November 2005 in St. Petersburg, Russia. IISD's report of the meeting.

May 2005

UNFF-5 UNABLE TO REACH AGREEMENT ON STRENGTHENING THE INTERNATIONAL ARRANGEMENT ON FORESTS

Delegates attending fifth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF-5) in New York have been unable agree on steps to strengthen the international arrangement of forests. The main task before UNFF-5, which convened from 16-27 May 2005, was to review the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests (IAF) and redesign the arrangement, if necessary. During the two-week session, delegates: reviewed progress and considered future actions; reviewed the effectiveness of the IAF; considered the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests; and considered enhanced cooperation and policy and programme coordination. In the end, UNFF-5 was unable to reach agreement on strengthening the IAF and could not produce either a ministerial statement or a negotiated outcome. By Thursday, 26 May, delegates had agreed ad referendum to four global goals on: significantly increasing the area of protected forests and sustainably managed forests worldwide; reversing the decline in official development assistance (ODA) for sustainable forest management (SFM); reversing the loss of forest cover; and enhancing forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits. They also agreed in principle to negotiate, at some future date, the terms of reference for a voluntary code or international understanding as well as means of implementation. On Friday afternoon, delegates forwarded the draft negotiating text to UNFF-6, to be held from 13-24 February 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage.

April 2005

ITTO WORKSHOP CONSIDERS HOW TO PROMOTE PHASED APPROACHES TO CERTIFICATION

Promoting the use of phased approaches to certification in tropical timber exporting developing countries was the focus of a workshop held recently in Bern, Switzerland. Representatives of certification schemes, timber producers and buyers, certification agencies and environmental organizations attended the workshop, which was funded by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). The meeting took place from 19-21 April 2005. Workshop participants reportedly agreed that the verification of legal origin could constitute a first stage of a phased approach. Some also reportedly called for the verification of legal compliance, which would require a more in-depth audit of adherence to relevant laws than is typically carried out as part of the forest certification process. However, others apparently expressed concern that this would “shift the goal posts” for timber-suppliers and would actually hinder their efforts to achieve SFM and certification. More information.
PETRÓPOLIS WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOREST LANDSCAPE RESTORATION

A workshop has been held in Petrópolis, Brazil, to discuss ways to increase understanding of good practices and opportunities in Forest Landscape Restoration activities. The Petrópolis Workshop, a country- and organization-led initiative in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), took place from 4-8 April 2005. Its aim was to find ways to increase understanding of good practices and opportunities in Forest Landscape Restoration activities, stimulating political support, and catalyzing and demonstrating their implementation around the world. This meeting brought together over 100 participants representing local, provincial and national governments, international and non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The report of the Workshop will be forwarded to UNFF's fifth session, which will convene from 16-27 May 2005, in New York. Participants also developed the Petrópolis Challenge, a declaration describing the goals and current status of forest landscape restoration. IISDRS coverage.
EXPERTS EXAMINE INNOVATIVE FINANCIAL MECHANISMS FOR FORESTS

Financial mechanisms for forests were the focus of a recent meeting of experts in San Jose, Costa Rica. An International Expert Meeting on “Innovative Financial Mechanisms: Searching for Viable Alternatives to Secure Basis for the Financial Sustainability of Forests” gathered approximately 100 experts from 29 March to 1 April 2005 to contribute to the international forest dialogue. This country-led initiative in support of the fifth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF-5) focused in particular on long-term processes or mechanisms to secure financial sustainability for sustainable forest management and their contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The Expert Group highlighted, inter alia, that the future international arrangement on forests, “regardless of its nature should include a financial component for cooperation and transfer of environmentally sound technologies that could help developing countries to solve their needs on training and funds for the implementation of the national programs.” A report of the meeting will be presented to UNFF-5 at its 16-27 May 2005 meeting in New York. The report.

March 2005

FAO FORESTRY MEETINGS CONSIDER FIRE MANAGEMENT, TSUNAMI DAMAGE, MDGS

Forest fire management, responses to the recent tsunami and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were some of the issues discussed by delegates meeting in mid-March at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. Over 600 participants attended the Ministerial Meeting on Forests and the seventeenth session of the FAO's Committee on Forestry from 14-19 March 2005. Over 40 ministers attended the Ministerial Meeting, as did the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai from Kenya, who used the opportunity to call for a re-think on the linkages between peace and security. At the Ministerial Meeting on Forests, ministers addressed issues relating to international cooperation on forest fire management and maintaining a commitment to sustainable forest management, and agreed to a Ministerial Statement. On tsunami damage, the ministers called for a comprehensive assessment of wood needs for reconstruction to respond better to the emerging challenges of rehabilitating damaged forests, salvaging wood and meeting the immediate needs for reconstructing piers, bridges, boats and houses, as well as for fuel. At the FAO Committee on Forestry, delegates addressed issues relating to the 2005 State of the World's Forests report, Regional Forestry Commissions, needs and opportunities for international cooperation in forest fire preparedness, the role of forests in contributing to the MDGs, and the World Forestry Congress. Links to further information The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report and coverage of this... Text of Wangari Maathai's speech
G8 ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT MINISTERS MEETING

The Environment and Development Ministers of the G8 countries, with the European Commissioners responsible for environment and development, the EU Presidency and senior officials from the United Nations, World Bank and IUCN-The World Conservation Union met from 17-18 March 2005 in Derbyshire, to address illegal logging and the impact of climate change on African development. Prior to the meeting, a consultation with civil society representatives was also held. At the conclusion of the two-day meeting, Ministers adopted a statement of commitments and priority actions. On illegal logging, Ministers agreed that working to tackle illegal logging is an important step towards the sustainable management of forests and sustainable development, and recognized the impacts that illegal logging, and associated trade and corruption have on environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation and climate systems. Ministers also committed to a range of different actions, including: assisting timber producing countries by increasing support to existing forest law enforcement and governance processes and extending this support to other regions; increasing support to producer countries in their efforts to tackle illegal logging and associated trade; sharing technical knowledge, helping develop tools and building the capacity to apply them to detect and prevent illegal logging and apprehend and prosecute offenders; taking steps to halt the import and marketing of illegally logged timber; taking actions to control illegal logging and associated trade, including wildlife trafficking, through bilateral and regional trade-related arrangements, consistent with WTO rules; and encouraging, adopting or extending public timber procurement policies that favor legal timber. Ministers also requested an expert meeting in 2006 to review progress towards the commitments made, to share lessons on actions to tackle illegal logging, and to make findings available. On climate change in Africa, Ministers noted that African countries are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change and, like many developing countries, are already experiencing more frequent dangerous climate effect. They agreed that urgent action to help the vulnerable adapt to climate change is necessary to ensure that climate impacts do not undermine the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Ministers also agreed that further international action is required to address climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to show leadership in international efforts to tackle climate change and assist vulnerable countries in coping with the impacts of climate change. They also recognized the need for increasing access to reliable and affordable energy services for the poor in Africa, particularly from renewable and energy efficient sources. Ministers also committed to supporting an effective international response: to help Africa understand and manage climate risk by building scientific and technical capacity in Africa; for multilateral development agencies to develop and implement ‘best practice' guidelines for screening Africa's climate risks within development portfolios; and to integrate measures to address the impacts of climate change for Africa in international development assistance and facilitate their integration in regional and national development plans. Links to more information G8 Ministerial outcome G8 Environment and Development Ministers Agree Action on Il..., DEFRA/DFID joint news release, 18 March 2005 G8 Gleneagles 2005
TALKS END IN PLEDGES TO PRESS GOVERNMENTS ON ILLEGAL LOGGING

More than 120 forest products company representatives, government officials and conservationists have agreed to support coordinated action on illegal logging. The meeting, which was hosted by The Forests Dialogue (TFD), was held from 7-10 March 2005 in Hong Kong, China. The dialogue sought to raise awareness among business leaders of the problems posed by illegal logging, to identify solutions, and to secure agreement on how participants can work together for widespread adoption of these resolutions. Participants agreed to call on G8 Ministers to implement existing government commitments, including increasing development assistance for poor countries to combat illegal logging and recognizing their responsibility as major consumer nations to reduce imports of illegally cut wood. They also decided to send a delegation from TFD to governments to stress the importance of coordinated action between China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Europe and North America to combat trade in illegal wood. Finally, the meeting also resulted in a call to strengthen and expand three existing partnerships addressing illegal logging—Conservation International/American Forest & Paper Association Alliance, the Global Forest and Trade Network and the WBCSD/WWF Framework Agreement; and to encourage governments to use existing laws more effectively to achieve exemplary prosecutions. More information.

February 2005

ITTA “SUCCESSOR AGREEMENT” TALKS TO CONTINUE IN JUNE

Negotiations to develop a successor agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement of 1994 have ended without a final deal being reached. The UN Conference for the Negotiation of a Successor Agreement to the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994 (ITTA, 1994), Second Part, which convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 14-18 February 2005, continued discussions on disputed text held over from the first part of the conference, which took place in mid-2004. Numerous proposals on the unresolved issues were tabled during the week, but delegates were unable to reach final agreement on a number of cross-cutting proposals. As a result, a third round of negotiations will take place from 27 June to 1 July 2005. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report.
CENTRAL AFRICAN LEADERS SIGN DEAL TO PROTECT AFRICAN RAINFOREST

Central Africa's political leaders have signed a treaty aimed at protecting the African rainforest. Leaders attending the second Central African Heads of State Forest Summit in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 4-5 February 2005, adopted a plan to protect the African rainforest. The treaty, which is the first regional conservation agreement of its kind in Africa, establishes trust funds to ensure sustained funding for the agreements implementation on the ground. The Forest Summit, which sought to coordinate local and global efforts to preserve Africa's rainforests, was attended by leaders of seven Central African countries—Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo. French President Jacques Chirac was also present, as were African and Western logging companies. The signatories to the new treaty are also expected to create a certification system for tropical wood. Commenting on the deal, environmental organization Greenpeace expressed doubt that the pledges made in Brazzaville would be followed by actions. A spokesperson said Greenpeace intended to “intensify its campaign in the coming months to get countries of the G8 and European Union to move from declarations to action and to intensify efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption and clean up the African timber trade.” 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya has agreed to be the goodwill ambassador for the protection of the forests of the Congo basin, and will seek ways to curb illegal logging and the illegal trade in bushmeat. Links to further information African Treaty to Protect Forest, BBC News, 5 February New Commitments Needed to Save the Congo Basin's Forests, WWF press release, 3 February Africa's Rainforest Depend on Cutting Out Corruption, Greenpeace press release, 5 February

January 2005

UNFF COUNTRY-LED INITIATIVE ON IAF

A meeting of the “country-led initiative” aimed at supporting discussions on a future international arrangement on forests was held in Zapopan-Guadalajara, Mexico. The “country-led initiative in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) on the future of the international arrangement on forests (IAF)” convened from 25-28 January 2005, with over 200 experts from governments, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in attendance. The purpose of the initiative is twofold: to elaborate the critical elements that countries would like to see included in a future IAF; and to provide an informal contribution that will help provide a basis for the decision concerning the future of the IAF that will be taken at UNFF-5 in May 2005. During the meeting, participants considered five specific aspects of a future IAF: objectives and functions; modalities; options for financing; identification of the international and domestic roles and contributions of the potential components of the IAF; and the challenge ahead. In the end, the participants, all of whom were speaking in their personal capacities, produced a final report that will be submitted to the United Nations. The final report is not a consensus report, but simply captures the broad range of personal opinions that were expressed during the four-day meeting. The Sustainable Developments report of the meeting.
PANEL EMPHASIZES FORESTS' ROLE IN ACHIEVING MDGS

Forests have a useful role to play in reaching many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to a panel of experts. During a recent meeting, held in Rome from 10-11 January 2005, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) High-Level Panel of External Experts on Forestry highlighted the contribution that forests and trees outside forests can make to achieving the MDGs relating to poverty, hunger and environmental sustainability. In the meeting, panel Chair David Kaimowitz, who also heads the Center for International Forestry Research, noted that “forest products can contribute directly to the goal of reducing poverty and hunger by providing cash income, jobs, and consumption goods for poor families.” The six experts attending the meeting recommended a number of actions FAO can take to assist countries' efforts to achieve the MDGs. These included: assisting countries in carrying out analyses of the forest-poverty links in their national context; increasing the visibility of the forest sector in countries' Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and other sustainable development plans; supporting countries' efforts to enhance participatory processes in the forest sector; and encouraging corporate social responsibility in the private forestry sector. FAO press statement on the meeting.