Working Group I conducted the first round of discussions on programme element III.1(a), assessment of the multiple benefits of all types of forests, on 10 and 11 September. Jean Clement (FAO) introduced the Secretary-Generals report (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/20). The report addresses: the need to make primary forest data widely accessible; forest resource assessment processes, such as FAOs FRA 2000; and country capacity building. AUSTRIA, supported by CANADA and PORTUGAL, called for comprehensive FRAs incorporating social and cultural aspects. He said C&I should be used to prioritize data gathering. JAPAN emphasized the need to standardize key definitions and classifications used in FRAs. NORWAY and VENEZUELA called for prioritization of data collection and recognized the importance of capacity building. AUSTRALIA said national forest inventories are an essential tool for planning and decision-making and urged clarification regarding how inventories will match up against C&I.
The EU and the US requested information on the time frame and resource planning for FRA 2000 and called for utilization of existing data. The US urged FAO to consider ways to improve FRAs beyond the year 2000, redirect existing resources toward it and collaborate with UNEP. SWEDEN, supported by SWITZERLAND, suggested rolling resource assessments rather than assessments every ten years. He sought strengthening of national capacities and institutions for data collection.
UNESCO warned against confusing a proposal for the collection of core data with those for a global harmonization of C&I. UNESCO, COLOMBIA and UNEP called for collaboration with other forestry and educational organizations. CHINA emphasized the need for transparency in funding FRA 2000. The US supported user payment for resource use, data collection and capacity building. FINLAND, the US and the EU supported a user-pays approach to garnering funds for FRA 2000. GERMANY expressed concern regarding the FAOs ability to financially and technically complete FRA 2000 at this time. He called on the FAO to prepare a detailed analysis of progress and available resources for review at IPF-4. FAO acknowledged the funding shortage for FRA 2000, stating that the problem goes beyond the simple transfer of resources from one programme to another.
Delegates began the second round of discussion on forest assessments on 17 September. In reviewing the revised text, the EU highlighted regular data updates, accessibility to assessment programmes, comparability of data collection methodologies and liaison with the Convention on Biological Diversity to ensure that gaps in knowledge are quickly addressed. The G-77/CHINA called for use of national forest assessments, where appropriate, in the development of NFPs. The G-77, supported by CANADA and environmental NGOs, sought the assessment of a broad range of values, including non- timber values, in FRA 2000. The G-77 also supported JAPANs proposal calling for the standardization of terms and definitions used in assessments. The US called for: the development of plans for implementation of assessments; the deletion of language from the Forest Principles on sustainable use, conservation and equitable sharing of benefits; and the need for capacity building. Environmental NGOs urged the use of an ecosystem approach in assessments and consultations with all stakeholders to identify the range of forest benefits.
A revised draft negotiating text was produced but not discussed due to time constraints.
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