Delegates discussed Programme Element I.2, underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation on 13 and 20 March. Ralph Schmidt (UNDP) introduced the SG's report (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/2) and stated that given the degree of national specificity and interaction among causation issues, this analysis would be most effectively pursued at the national and sub-national levels. AUSTRALIA, supported by PAPUA NEW GUINEA, recommended that national forest plans (NFPs) take local and regional planning needs into account. He stated that agricultural clearing, fuelwood collection and land tenure reform were causes of deforestation requiring governmental review. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA stressed the need to develop NFPs, stating that they should be geared toward domestic political regimes. He said developed countries should assist developing countries in devising NFPs and suggested that harmonized guidelines and partnerships may be useful. NEW ZEALAND cautioned against generalizing about the causes of deforestation. He said that plantations have been successful in New Zealand and that sustainable trade in forest products should be encouraged.
COLOMBIA stated that while poverty may be an underlying cause of deforestation, the wealth of "consumer bosses" in developed countries and land holding practices are major causes as well. CHILE noted that plantations can relieve pressures on natural forests and help to prevent desertification in soil degraded areas. FINLAND said research on criteria and indicators (C&I) may help to determine optimum forest cover and suggested that the protection of natural forests and the conservation of biodiversity in natural and semi-natural forests be highlighted.
The US called for specific solutions and a review of sustainable forest management (SFM) policies. Supported by SWITZERLAND and CANADA, she noted the need for national case studies. She also stated that while countries could set their own optimum forest cover targets, these would not be valuable at the international level. ZIMBABWE said action proposals should focus more on indirect causes and that communal land tenure could be a survival strategy. PERU acknowledged forests' social and economic roles and stated that land holding implies use of land as well as ownership.
POLAND noted the link between causes such as air pollution, climate, forest ecosystem simplification and social elements. Afforestation can be combined with protective measures that address fragmentation, soil and water protection and other non-timber values. CANADA said forest partnership agreements need further elaboration and that biodiversity should be considered broadly.
ECUADOR noted that international lending agencies can cause deforestation by encouraging the adoption of economic policies that result in environmental exploitation. JAPAN underscored the cross-sectoral nature of the analysis and difficulties in generalizing. He supported national case studies and field level application of C&I and SFM. The EU called for: optimization of financial resources; scientific research and monitoring; assessment and valuation of forest benefits; and certification procedures.
IRAN stated the need for afforestation and reforestation as well as the importance of population and technology transfer issues. UGANDA asked that fuelwood be recognized as a non-timber forest product and stated that forest quality can be a bridge to the CBD. GERMANY called for deliberate and controlled forest replacement plans, country-specific optimum cover levels and increased use of forest product substitutes.
SWITZERLAND said that forests should be valued for more than timber; NFPs should define optimum forest cover; and indirect causes of deforestation should be further examined. CANADA said actions should comport with sustainable consumption and production and that land tenure should be examined. INDONESIA noted that planned deforestation followed by reforestation can be a sound management practice, if done correctly. A relationship between harvesting damage and lack of property rights is inappropriate.
The EU stated that inappropriate forest management policies should be revised and that assistance to developing countries should focus on promoting proper legislation and improving planning. INDIA agreed that NFPs should include optimum forest cover and called for methodologies to assess forest quality changes. GREEN EARTH ORGANIZATION questioned the use of plantations and suggested that the reinstatement of farmlands through sound agricultural practices may be preferable.
NORWAY acknowledged the need to establish legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms for NFPs in addition to a data bank on the replacement and modification of forests. Future forest policies must adequately address biodiversity. FRIENDS OF THE EARTH INTERNATIONAL noted the ineffectiveness of national enforcement measures as an underlying cause of deforestation and urged that the customary rights of indigenous peoples be protected.
MALAYSIA supported the sharing of knowledge and technology at the international level. He urged that donor coordination be improved. The UK noted the need to distinguish between fact and assumption when discussing causes of deforestation and stated that changes in forest use are not always bad. He said decisions should be based on national and sub-national factors. BRAZIL said causation factors and optimal forest cover should be defined for each country individually. He acknowledged the impact economic factors can have and the need to address land-tenure issues.
FRANCE agreed that all deforestation is not harmful and added that forest quality was more important than forest quantity. BIODIVERSITY ACTION NETWORK called for consideration of all causation issues including those that are politically charged such as macro-economic adjustments, international trade and exchange rates, and consumption and production patterns.
The US said studies of the change in deforestation could show causes of reforestation and that definition of land tenure in the report should be expanded. SWEDEN said that agriculture and land-use must be considered as causes and that optimum forest cover could be clarified by consumption and production studies. IUCN and the ASIA FOREST NETWORK suggested that nations develop policies to facilitate community involvement in forest management.
AFRICAN NETWORK FOR FOREST CONSERVATION called for a monitoring system to facilitate participatory management, alternatives to biodiversity exploitation, legally-binding commitments and rigorous land-use planning. The NETHERLANDS COMMITTEE FOR THE IUCN called for the need to address industry subsidies; extraction from virgin forests; impacts of dam construction; and case studies of indigenous and local forest management projects. CANADA supported enhanced community empowerment.
The Co-Chairs' draft summary on Programme Element I.2 was discussed on 20 March. The summary recognizes that: the causes of deforestation are complex, with many lying outside the forest sector; long-term consumption and production patterns as well as transboundary economic and environmental factors play a large role; country-specific NFPs and a diagnostic framework are needed; actions should be coordinated with those under other international legal instruments; and actions regarding forest quality and quantity assessments, joint management programmes with local involvement, the compilation of existing data, capacity building and improved donor coordination are needed.
THE GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT said international and multilateral pressures should be addressed and suggested that the IPF develop concrete proposals and identify responsible parties. WWF noted the danger in including statements that deforestation may not necessarily be harmful, saying that there could be repercussions to indigenous communities. The G-77/CHINA stated that the causes of deforestation in all countries should be viewed from a historical perspective.
The EU and AUSTRALIA said that forest fires, grazing pressures and unsustainable agriculture should be recognized as causes of deforestation. CANADA expressed the need to clearly differentiate between direct and underlying causes and stated that deforestation may not be harmful in the context of land-use plans. BRAZIL noted that all causes raised by the IPF were not included in the report and stated that the international causes should be better represented, particularly those relating to trade, market forces and the under-valuation of non-wood products and forest services.
SWITZERLAND recommended that the report address relevant activities undertaken by the FCCC, CBD and CCD. MEXICO asked that the "diagnostic framework" and the mechanisms for information collection be more clearly defined. NORWAY said the forestry sector should be addressed as a cause. He called for involvement of local people in decision-making, planning of forest modifications in other sectors and increased knowledge of the qualitative aspects of forests.
The US noted that although major forest areas may be outside the direct control of national governments, this does not constitute an underlying cause of deforestation. A reference to joint management may not be appropriate for all countries. She suggested an additional paragraph identifying examples of policies and interventions that have contributed to deforestation as well as those that have led to SFM. GABON noted the need for a reference to the Forest Principles and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 in the paragraph on related international agreements. Foreign debt and inadequate resources should be recognized as indirect causes of deforestation. INDIA and MALAYSIA stressed the need to recognize poverty and consumption patterns as underlying causes. INDIA added that poverty alleviation should be included as a strategy for non-forest sectors of the economy. MALAYSIA said that in order to be effective, the IPF must propose specific actions to identify underlying causes, address these causes, and identify difficulties in implementing SFM. CANADA noted the need to address sub-national governing structures such as provincial governments within a federal system.
A revised draft summary on Programme Element I.2 was circulated on 22 March. It included most of the delegates' comments. The references to poverty, land-tenure, agricultural pressures, international market forces, undervaluation of non-wood goods and services, joint management programmes, related international agreements and recommended actions were expanded.
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