Working Group II considered programme element I.4, fragile ecosystems affected by desertification, and the impact of airborne pollution on forests on 12 September. Jean Clement (FAO) introduced the Secretary-Generals report (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/17). The report is divided into two parts. The first part addresses progress related to afforestation, reforestation and the restoration of forest systems, particularly in countries with fragile ecosystems and those affected by desertification and drought, and focuses on national dryland programmes, capacity-building, land tenure, periodic assessment, preventive and restorative measures and coordination. The second part addresses progress related to the impact of airborne pollution on forests, focusing on emission reduction, periodic assessment, research and rehabilitation of affected areas. Based on delegates comments, a draft negotiating text was produced by the Secretariat. Delegates considered this text on 18 September and, based on the comments, a revised draft negotiating text was produced for consideration on the final day.
During the course of these discussions, delegates offered the following comments. On desertification and drought, environmental NGOs asserted that poor resource management may be caused by a lack of alternatives as opposed to a lack of education, and recommended new language regarding support for participatory research with indigenous people and local communities in resource management. GERMANY recommended that strategies on desertification should be integrated within existing forest and land use programmes. CANADA said national forestry action programmes provide the best framework for addressing reforestation and afforestation by providing cross- sectoral linkages, participation of stakeholders, policy and legislative reviews and institutional strengthening. DENMARK noted that the provision of financial means and incentives for private owners will not ensure successful afforestation efforts. The IUCN suggested that bilateral and multilateral agencies and government planners shift investment emphasis away from plantations toward improving communities tenure rights.
The US added language encouraging countries to undertake the obligations contained in Article 5 of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and emphasized the need to avoid duplication with the CCD. He said the proposed formulation of guidelines for conservation and environmental management of plantations is premature. Supported by JAPAN and the G-77/CHINA, he proposed deleting a reference to long-term institutional and legal arrangements in a proposal on strengthening partnerships. The G-77/CHINA emphasized the need for financial resources and technology transfer to promote forest land rehabilitation. He added language on: the positive and cost-effective results from plantations of fast-growth trees in terms of soil protection; the use of protected areas as an in-situ conservation strategy for ecosystems affected by drought and desertification; and the promotion of protected areas in arid and semi-arid regions, including preservation of water resources and traditional and historical uses. The EU called for new language on: the important role of education, training and extension systems aimed at specific groups; institutional and land tenure reform; coordination and harmonization of national forest and land use plans at the regional level; and consideration of dryland issues in NFPs and promotion of stakeholder education and training in drylands management.
On the impact of air-borne pollution on forests, TURKEY called for promotion of technical cooperation to encourage capacity building in research. The US called for further work under existing monitoring systems on ways to assess and monitor national level C&I for SFM on air-borne pollutants. JAPAN emphasized the need for region-wide forest monitoring systems and testing and application of the critical loads approach, and proposed language encouraging governments to adopt a preventive approach for reducing transboundary air pollution in the context of national sustainable development strategies. The G-77/CHINA recommended deleting proposals to incorporate reduction of air pollution into national sustainable development strategies and to encourage regions to enter into binding agreements to reduce the impact of air-borne pollutants.
Discussions on this programme element will continue at IPF-4.
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