Working Group II considered programme element I.5, needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover. Bai-Mass Taal (UNEP) presented the Secretary- Generals report (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/18), which was discussed on 12 September. The report acknowledges the strong dependence on forest goods and services for subsistence; major problems of countries with low forest cover (poorly protected watersheds, decreasing number of endemic species and scarcity of forest products); concentration of investment in countries with abundant forest cover; and the need for special attention to the needs and requirements of countries with low forest cover. It contains proposals for action on NFPs; forest plantations; importation and substitution; participatory mechanisms; information collection and dissemination; capacity building; and coordination mechanisms.
On 19 September, delegates conducted a second round of discussions on a revised negotiating text that contains conclusions and proposals for action on the definition of low forest cover; NFPs; and international cooperation. The text calls for a more precise categorization of countries with low forest cover as the FAOs global Forest Resource Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) currently defines such countries as those having 20% and 10% and of minimum crown cover for developed and developing countries, respectively, and has no scientific foundation or opportunity for global comparability.
The US recommended a universal definition of 10% be adopted for all countries. SOUTH AFRICA recommended expanding the definition of countries to include countries in which the lack of forests has resulted in an unfulfilled national demand for forest products.
INDONESIA called for increased assistance and technology transfer for low forest cover countries. AUSTRALIA noted that low forest cover is only a crude criterion for allocating forest funding. Environmental NGOs called for: special care to avoid replacing natural species with large-scale tree plantations; assessment of financial, socio-cultural and environmental costs associated with increasing plantation cover; and exploration of means to reduce demand for pulp and paper, particularly in northern countries. The EU called for: special attention to the needs of least developed countries with low forest cover; close coordination with Convention on Biological Diversity activities to establish networks of protected areas; and the retention of natural species where appropriate. With the US, he noted that official development assistance (ODA) is an important, rather than the most important, source of funding to countries with low forest cover. UKRAINE added references to buffer zones and ecological corridors to conserve biodiversity and to support countries with economies in transition with low forest cover. The US, supported by JAPAN, proposed deleting paragraphs on permanent forest estates, non-wood substitutes and Forest Partnership Agreements (FPAs).
The G-77/CHINA proposed language on the need to emphasize natural regeneration of degraded forest areas by involving communities and indigenous people in their protection and management. He called for: national and international measures to protect distinctive or rare forest types in countries with low forest cover; financial assistance, transfer of technology and know-how; provision of new and additional resources; and assistance to developing countries in data gathering and analysis. Discussions on this programme element will continue at IPF-4.
[Return to start of article]