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FAO Releases Asia-Pacific Forestry Briefs

FAOApril 2012: Policy briefs resulting from the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS II) highlight concerns with biodiversity loss in the region, a need for improved governance and better forest management at the field level, and a call for enhanced training and awareness of forestry issues. APFSOS II was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

APFSOS II synthesizes observations and findings from almost 50 countries on the status and trends of Asia-Pacific forestry. The publication also analyzes key factors driving changes in forestry in the region, and sets out three scenarios for 2020: "Boom," "Bust" and "Green Economy." The report concludes by outlining priorities and strategies to move the region's forestry sector onto a more sustainable footing and to provide continued benefits to future generations.

The brief titled "Forests for a greener future" reviews trends in deforestation and forest degradation, biodiversity loss in the region and threats to biodiversity. It outlines the region's roundwood production and demand, and stresses that a way forward for the region is investment in forest resources as a mechanism for mitigating climate change and its impacts. It also calls for gradually relinquishing direct government control over forest resources, to improve social and economic justice.

The brief titled "Reinventing forest policies and institutions" furthers the theme of allocating rights and responsibilities to local levels to meet changing goals of the forestry sector. It calls for forestry institutions to be flexible, enhance strategic management capabilities and sensory capacities, and promote an institutional culture that responds to change. It states that institutional structures need to reflect transitions in policies from timber-focused management to a focus on protection, conservation and management for a wide range of goods and services.

The brief titled "Better governance, better forestry" focuses on declines in governance measures related to regulatory quality, corruption, political instability, voice and accountability, and rising effectiveness of certain governments. It makes recommendations on promoting sustainable forest management (SFM) when governance quality is fluctuating.

The brief titled “Learning for the future” calls for improving education to increase awareness on forests and natural resources, as well as strengthening tertiary education in forestry to address human resources limitations in forestry. It states that current institutional capacity in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region is scarce, with a particular deficit in skills at the field level, and little knowledge among forest-dependent people of formal forest policies and local-level rights and responsibilities. The brief recommends a way forward, including through an institutional skills audit and promotion of learning cultures.

The brief titled “Making forests work for the poor” underscores the potential role of forestry in poverty eradication in the Asia-Pacific region. It calls for strengthening of tenure, building local capacity for resource management, providing credit, and supporting livelihood development and income generating activities. It also assesses the integration of poverty alleviation into national forestry agendas in the region.

The brief titled “Forests and gender in a changing environment” discusses the advantages of including women in forest decision making and improving their access to forest resources. It highlights opportunities and challenges that women face in adopting new roles in resource management, particularly as challenges related to globalization, food and energy security and climate change emerge.

The brief titled “The forest biodiversity challenge” highlights threats to biodiversity, including habitat destruction and extraction of high-value species in the region's forests. It calls for: raising awareness, particularly among consumers of wildlife products; improving financing and law enforcement of protected areas; incentivizing migration from high-value conservation forests; and implementing safeguards in association with infrastructure developments.

The brief titled “Back to basics” highlights that the health and vitality of forests in the Asia-Pacific region and their productivity often are compromised, due to lack of incentives to invest in forest management and the overlooking of day-to-day, field-level activities. It notes that while high-level decisions and international commitments on the region's forests continue to be made, lack of capacity and knowledge at the field level result in little action at the grassroots. It highlights a resulting increase in forest fires and biodiversity losses. The brief calls for funding from financial mechanisms such as REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) and other payments for ecosystem services (PES) to enhance field capacities and increase forest monitoring, and for improving management through the use of voluntary codes of practice and enforcement of regulations. [Publication: Learning for the Future: Forestry Training and Education] [Publication: Forests for a Greener Future] [Publication: Reinventing Forest Policies and Institutions] [Publication: Better Governance, Better Forestry] [Publication: Making Forests Work for the Poor] [Publication: Forests and Gender in a Changing Environment] [Publication: The Forest Biodiversity Challenge] [Publication: Back to Basics: Field-level Forestry] [Publication: Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study II]