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Watershed year for world forests.

The next 12 months are shaping up as the Year of Thinking Globally and Acting Locally in forestry. So much activity in international forestry will occur between now and next summer that you'll need a scorecard to keep track of the action.

Global activities will include the 10th World Forestry Congress, hitting Paris for two weeks September 17-26; the start-up if a new United Nations funding initiative, led by the World Bank, called the Global Environment Facility (GEF); and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Environment with the convening of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Brazil next June, headed by Maurice Strong of Canada, the man who brought us Stockholm in 1972. It will also be the year in which the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) is either reformed by its sponsors or brought down by bureaucratic constraints that critics say have almost crippled this first real global forestry effort.

It's also a period during which international treaties on climate change and on the conservation of biological diversity may be negotiated, and the year that George Bush and other leaders of the Economic 7 have set for the creation of an international agreement on forestry.

So much for Thinking Globally. We'll take a closer look in a minute.

The other half of the slogan is Acting Locally. The next few months also promise inincreased activity on ground-level projects by development assistance agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere, which are working more closely than ever before with citizen organizations (so-called nongovernmental organizations, or NGOS). (See A Vision in Mali" on page 28.)

Now for a preview of the coming year's activities and a few predictions.

For the working forestry professionals of the world, the 10th World Forestry Congress in Paris promises to be a watershed event. The theme 'Forests, a Heritage for the Future"-may not sound all that inspiring; but it's not the theme that counts as much as the opportunity that comes only every six years for foresters to get together with colleagues from around the world for two weeks of almost nonstop discussions, information exchange, and networking. Even with all the advances in modern telecommunications, nothing is more useful than meeting face-to-face with people with whom you share a deep professional bond but seldom get to see.

What comes out of Paris could set the forestry agenda for the 90s and beyond, much as the 1978 Eighth World Forestry Congress in Jakarta put in motion the idea that "forests are for people" and launched the continuing crusade for social and community forestry.

If Paris is the opening round of this global year of forestry, the UNCED meeting in Brazil next june will be the main event. The Brazil meeting is what almost every international organization governmental and nongovernmental-is pointing toward and what is driving international activities at such a frantic pace over the next several months. Every nation wants to show the world just how concerned and committed it is to making environmentally sound and socially acceptable resource development a reality.

If the meeting is anywhere near as successful in galvanizing public opinion and political action as was the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972, then the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil could be a real turning point in world history-the point at which the need for global solutions became accepted as an imperative of the New World Order.

This is one reason George Bush and other heads of state at the Houston Economic Summit last summer called for the completion of a global forestry agreement by 1992. Until Houston, few were taking seriously the idea of a global convention on forestry. But now, at least the U.S. State Department, which is heading up an interagency U.S. effort, is giving it high priority, and some of the environmental groups attending the recent climate-change negotiations in Chantilly, Virginia, held informal meetings to discuss a forest convention.

An international negotiating committee under U.N. auspices has already begun meeting to draft a convention on global warming, to be signed (it is hoped) in 1992. Forestry is an important part of the solution since trees can be a sink for carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases. Forests can also be a part of the problem. Forest fires, shifting cultivation, and other forms of deforestation in tropical rainforests are estimated to be responsible for 10 to 20 percent of annual global CO, emissions.

Draft proposals for a convention on conservation of biodiversity also focus on tropical rainforests, which comprise an immense storehouse of plant and animal resources threatened by continuing habitat destruction. A draft of a convention on biological diversity has been prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), working in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The draft may be used by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) as a basis for negotiating such a convention. The U.N Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has also been involved.

When it comes to negotiating a forestry agreement, developing countries will be highly protective of their sovereignty over their own natural resources. They win also be looking for badly needed financial and technical assistance, and will be reluctant to accept any obligations that might be considered harmful to their long-term economic development.

Developed countries will be looking to persuade tropical governments to initiate policy reforms. They will also be trying to avoid significant new financial obligations or quid pro quos that might have a negative economic impact at substantially strengthened its international forestry program (see -International Forestry: The Forest Service's Fourth Leg" on page 17), most U.S. assistance in tropical forestry is the responsibihty the U.S. Agency for International Development, an agency within the Department of State.

USAID support for forestry activities and biological diversity is on the increase. In FY 1988, $50.2 million was obligated for 90 forestry projects. By the following year, funding for forestry projects had increased to $76.8 million covering 112 projects, with an additional 23 tropical forestry projects in the planning stage. Funding for biological diversity similarly increased.

FY 1990 saw an increase in the number of forestry projects to 203, but a decrease in funding to $66.8 million as the budget deficit took its toll. The FY 1991 budget bumps the funding level back up to $71.8 million, for fewer but larger projects, with more emphasis on policy reforms.

USAID has also become more innovative in its forestry programs, working more with NGOs and using financial aid to leverage the kind of policy reforms that will bring about positive change in AID-assisted countries.

For example, the agency has entered into a 10-year cooperative agreement with the World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, and World Resources Institute to assist conservation efforts in AID-assisted countries. Funding could reach the level of $28.4 million over the 10 years.

USAID is also providing assistance in debt-for-nature swaps. In 1989 USAID provided a $1 millon grant to help the World Wildlife Fund buy $2.1 million of debt in Madagascar. Local currency from the swap will go into programs to manage and protect six national parks and reserves.

In the Philippines, USAID is using a green carrot" to encourage policy reforms in the forestry sector. An AID assisted project just getting under way will provide $125 million for a Natural Resource Management Program, $75 million of which will be provided in four "performance-based" disbursements tied to the Philippine government's progress in implementing policy reforms to enhance forest management and improve industry efficiency.

Another $25 million will be used in a debt-for-environment swap, the proceeds of which will be used to endow support for environmental NGO activities in the Philippines. Among the policy reforms agreed upon are a ban on logging in the remaining old growth tropical forests and intensive management of residual secondary forests to supply a leaner and more efficient forest industry. If all goes as hoped, the result could be a profound change for the better in Philippine forestry.

One of the most active NGOs at the local level is CARE, which had its beginnings as a worldwide relief organization following World War H. (Remember those CARE packages?)

CARE implemented its first agroforestry project in 1974. Current CARE activities include 87 projects with an annual budget of more than $32 million. For the most part, the focus is on helping the rural poor improve their income and health through sustainable farming techniques.

According to Peter Hazelwood, a CARE deputy director, the year of 1990 saw 5,903 nurseries in operation, 879 miles of hedgerows and windbreaks planted, 8,612 acres of forest planted (with a 71.8 percent survival rate), and 54,582 acres of forest managed. A total of 281,200 farmers (including 38,074 women) were involved in agro-forestry and natural-resource management activities. Of these, some 99,802 farmers were involved in managing forest plantations.

Another innovative community forestry program is being financed by five European countries (Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland) and operated through FAO under the direction of Marilyn Hoskins, an American anthropologist who has served since 1984 as FAO's community forestry officer. According to Hoskins, this new program is designed to work with grassroots NGOS, local governments, and universities to create support systems for community forestry efforts. The role of rural women will receive particular attention, along with nutritional aspects of community forestry, including the use of food trees in gardens, agroforestry, and woodlots.

What then, does all of this activity mean for forestry in the months and years ahead:

Tropical deforestation will not be brought to a halt by the year 2000, any more than suburban development in the U.S. will be controlled. (The State of Maryland lost 14,000 acres of forestland to development in 1990.) We will see the beginnings of real improvement in efforts to increase the area of tropical forest under sustainable management (an amount that today is negligible). This means more jobs for forest economists, who need to come up with new investment and management strategies that can provide continued economic returns within acceptable environmental and social norms.

Global warming and biological diversity will continue to be the major global issues. In terms of forestland use, they will translate into concern over management of natural forests for sustainable development and concern over the role of forest plantations in long-term land use. International conventions on both biodiversity and global warming could be negotiated before the end of 1992.

A forest convention, however, may not be finalized in 1992, but something close to it will be introduced in time for the UNCED meeting, and will soon be the focus of negotiation. How to manage natural tropical forests for economic benefits within acceptable social and environmental limits will be the major forestry challenge of the 90s.

The role of plantation forestry in developing countries will continue to be a source of controversy. In the'60s and '70s, plantations of fast-growing exotic species were seen as the answer to fuelwood and timber shortages, often replacing natural forests. Environmental concerns in the 80s shifted the emphasis to smaller-scale community woodlots, with large plantations limited to reforesting already logged-over forest and abandoned agricultural land. In the'90s calls for massive reforestation to alleviate global warming, coupled with reduced logging from natural forests, could bring about a return to large-scale industrial plantations, with implications for social and environmental problems.

The 10th World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Paris will need to come up with an even more creative final declaration than usual if it hopes to receive serious consideration at the 1992 UNCED meeting in Brazil, where almost everyone will have something to say (or at least, an opinion) about forestry. WFC delegates and drafters of the WFC statement will have a chance to offer forestry strategies with multiple payoffs by designing programs that produce forest goods and services at the same time as they reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Flawed as is in some respects, the TFAP has generated national-level attention to forestry issues that would not otherwise have happened. The developing countries feel comfortable with it, which may be why the developed countries don't. Nonetheless, the TFAP cannot be abandoned. There is nothing to replace it.

Efforts will continue to involve local people in forest management where there is competition for the use of resources. NGOs will continue to play a greater role in helping people meet their own needs and improve land management at the level of the village or individual family. Land-tenure issues, small-holder credit, tree nurseries, and institutional mechanisms at the local level are the focus of many projects. At the national level, strengthening of land-use planning and land-managing agencies is drawing increasing attention from donors, along with the need for policy reforms such as those being promoted in the USAID project.

In the final analysis, however, I know of no organization that has come up with a more innovative and dynamic program of thinking globally and acting locally than the American Forestry Association's worldwide treeplanting initiative, Global ReLeaf. AFA's Neal Sampson would be the first to admit that planting trees will not solve the world's forestry problems, but he also knows that there's no better way to get people involved than by putting a tree in their hand, and that is one of the closest things I know to a universal truth. AF
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Special Coverage: Forests on a Shrinking Globe; includes related articles
Author:Pardo, Richard D.
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Words:2247
Previous Article:International Forestry: the Forest Service's fourth leg.
Next Article:Buy or boycott tropical hardwoods?
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