Jean Clement, the Task Manager for FAO, introduced the Secretary Generals Report on programme element III.1(a) (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/6), which describes: the users of forest resources information; FAOs forest resources assessment; gaps in forest information; and approaches and lessons learned and future trends.
The EU encouraged information production, processing and interpretation to benefit planners at different levels. He supported the global forest assessment and noted the need to address local impacts of national policies. SWEDEN called for improvement of the global forest assessment process, considering: forest degradation; assistance in national capacity building; and information to develop SFM plans. TANZANIA highlighted national databases and a regional data bank for assessing forest area and resources. Data should reflect macro-economic conditions.
CANADA stressed: conducting national forest assessments best suited to national needs and available resources; increased national capacity building; addressing views of all stakeholders; and more frequent global forest assessments. The G-77/CHINA noted the need to expand the base of institutions consulted in assessment processes and encouraged South-South cooperation. Transparency in the process is important to prevent bias. JAPAN supported enhanced capacity building and institutional development, pledging US$150 million to the FAO for this, and suggested harmonization of national data collection methods.
NEW ZEALAND called for increased institutional capacity and international coordination efforts to collect global data to reflect changes in forest cover, wood production and carbon absorption levels. NORWAY and GERMANY commented on the need to improve comparability of information on national inventories. Norway also highlighted local and regional utilization in forest assessments. The US agreed with many priorities in the report, including continued resource assessments and harmonization efforts. He supported expanded Forest Resource Assessment, but noted the need for cost- benefit analyses.
GERMANY called for making use of existing assessment data, and an overview of institutions in this field. He noted the Swiss/Peruvian initiative and highlighted Germanys activities. SWITZERLAND said that assessments should focus on feasibility, usefulness and prioritization of elements, and supported: developing local capacity for interpreting inventories; the reports priorities; and its issues for consideration. AUSTRALIA emphasized the importance of capacity building, but noted that concepts such as biodiversity are hard to inventory. He called for clarification of definitions and noted Australias forthcoming forest report.
IRAN stated that capacity building must be a high priority and called for national mechanisms to improve the information capabilities of developing countries. He emphasized the importance of further research on forest inventory techniques and integration of indicators for SFM. MALAYSIA recognized the need to harmonize standards for reporting. Future assessments should include measures of carbon storage and forest health. Indicators should be simple and practical to use. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported proposals on capacity building and stressed the need for standardized data.
FUNDACION PERUANA PARA LA CONSERVACION DE LA NATURALEZA emphasized: increased use of ground-truthing; enhanced information access; NGOs and local communities as resources; forest authenticity; soil and biodiversity conservation; and transparent and effective partnerships. POLAND stated that nonlinear forest methodologies have created a new scientific base for SFM and that unbiased data is necessary for management decisions. The CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH noted that evaluating NTFPs, biodiversity, and environmental services require broad assessments, and that investment in forestry research as a percentage of income is lower than in agriculture.
AUSTRIA noted that cost-efficient forest assessments should incorporate social and environmental data, and should avoid duplication. KENYA highlighted accurate information for forest management, including development of C&I, and capacity building to coordinate forest, social and environmental assessments. FINLAND highlighted resource assessments for forest management and respect for national needs when gathering data. He emphasized: coordination; identifying information users; information dissemination; and including non-forest information with assessments.
GABON questioned whether finance and technology transfer implies a partnership for mutually advantageous exchange. He called upon IPF-2 to define the rules of international cooperation. The UK stated that assessing social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits is necessary for land use decisions and that global assessments have limited value for national planners. He supported a study on charging fees for information.
The NETHERLANDS suggested investing in capacity building. FAO should monitor biodiversity of forests, health conditions, biomass, and forest product and is the logical agency to implement the assessment.
ZIMBABWE acknowledged progress in assessment and capacity in developing countries. He supported research in monitoring methods but said harmonizing terminology and classification could lose key details. FAO said it verifies data. The UN budget crisis will affect FAOs forestry department, but the amount given to forest resource assessment will increase. Suggestions for new assessment elements are of interest but would present problems in methodology, data consistency and financial resources.
FRANCE urged increased forest assessment when fundamental information is unavailable. It is important to collect and update data to identify trends. COLOMBIA said all necessary technology is in Northern nations. Access to and costs of computer technology present problems, therefore technical assistance and mobilization of funds are needed. INDIA said SFM indicators have not been identified. A wide range of information is needed for National Forestry Action Plans and assessments. FAO should organize regional workshops to improve country staff expertise.
BRAZIL said assessments should account for multiple benefits, such as non-wood products, and should emphasize information on economic and social variables. The report should include a table on temperate and boreal forests. ARGENTINA stressed the lack of data on forest benefits and requested information on the integration of forest ecosystems. Assessments require international financial support and information exchange, and should reflect social and economic information. CHINA said the quality of capacity building and forest assessment should be emphasized. Priorities should include international cooperation on technology and shared information.
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