Co-Chair Martin Holdgate introduced programme element I.5, needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover (LFCs), and UNEP senior programme officer Bai Mass Taal introduced the document (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/4). The document attempts to identify LFCs based on FAO statistics and definitions. It concludes that LFCs require cooperation to reduce their dependence on foreign forest goods and services, and that they may consider investing in "minimum permanent forest estate." The document also proposes actions.
CHINA said it might be advisable to use a unified low forest cover definition. It is essential to address forest cover at an international as well as national level. The report is missing the need for international cooperation including capacity building and financial and technical assistance. MEXICO said all types of forests and forest vegetation should be considered. Biodiversity and other environmental goods and services that are not reflected in economic terms are important. The UK said it is not appropriate to search for a single definition that will satisfy all circumstances. Actions should be prioritized, recognizing that all countries do not have the same options and that afforestation, reforestation, plantations and other items are not only for LFCs .
AUSTRALIA said there is a need to identify developed and developing countries needs. Work should be done on inventory methodology, and greater emphasis given to timber production values. Plantations can contribute directly to protecting biodiversity and indirectly to decreasing pressure on native forest resources. GABON proposed to define optimal forest cover as a point at which a countrys supply of forest goods and services equals demand and to refer to irreducible needs to eliminate North-South discrepancies. The NETHERLANDS emphasized the importance of timber. He expressed hesitation about promoting substitutes.
GERMANY encouraged grouping countries in relation to their causes of deforestation, noting this may also help in the analysis of program element I.2. Inter-sectoral policy development considering microeconomic factors is necessary. Countries should establish affordable quantities of forest cover, factoring in opportunity costs associated with water and land tenure systems. The US sought clarification of the reference to global in relation to the availability of forest products per person on national and global terms. He welcomed international cooperation concerning technology sharing, as well as joint implementation schemes for carbon set-off and financing. CANADA urged that the report address developed countries with low forest cover. He recommended participatory approaches to forest stewardship, enhanced efficiency of fuelwood use and valuation of wood and non-wood resources. Biodiversity concerns should be integrated into existing national plans and land tenure systems.
IRAN urged the Panel to consider global issues and to examine the causes behind LFCs such as poverty and the lack of technology and expertise. He suggested that regional and international efforts be undertaken to assist LFCs. Mangrove forests should be addressed. COLOMBIA has relatively high forest cover, but the recommendations will be relevant because all countries should improve degraded areas. He said the list of recommendations should be prioritized. NEW ZEALAND appreciated the emphasis on national level concerns, the distinction made between LFC and LFC per capita and the recognition of questions about the environmental impacts of substitutes. MALAYSIA expressed uncertainty over the definition of forest cover and questioned whether woodlands should be included. IPF should consider a methodology for evaluation of non-wood forest products and define uniqueness to cover all forest types.
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