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close this bookProceedings of the FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (1997)
View the documentOutcome of the 13th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 1997)
View the documentFAO - State of the World's Forests
View the documentOutcome of the First World Conference on Finance and Marketing for the Pulp and Paper Industries

Outcome of the 13th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO 1997)

Mafa E. Chipeta
Forestry Policy and Planning Division, FAO, Rome

The FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) - the highest statutory body of the Organization dealing with forestry matters - held its 13th session between 10 and 13 March of this year; it was attended by nearly 100 member countries, many represented at head of forestry administration level. In spite of its inter-governmental nature, COFO reaffirmed its desire to see a more active role for the private sector and other non-governmental interest groups in the work of FAO in forestry. The private sector can only benefit from interacting with COFO and other statutory bodies because the views exchanged among governments in these fora can influence the regulatory or supportive interventions which governments adopt in their countries.

Issues arising out of COFO that could be of interest to the private sector can be listed under three headings:

· FAO programme and its priorities;

· criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management; and

· private sector involvement or participation in the activities of COFO or FAO Regional Forestry Commissions.

FAO programme and its priorities

The 12th session of COFO in 1995 was preceded by a meeting of the private sector which contributed to preparations for the main session of COFO and that of Ministers responsible for forestry. The report of that private sector meeting makes it very clear that the private sector shares society's general commitment to achieving sustainable forest management. The entire FAO programme of work proposals discussed at the 1997 session is directed at this objective and, therefore, should be of interest to you; FAO would welcome your views on it. In March of this year, COFO itself made specific suggestions for FAO's work and proposed definite priorities, of which the following are highlights for your attention:

· Forest resources assessment is essential in monitoring availability of forest raw materials;

· Outlook studies and statistics can provide the private sector with a basis for identifying future development opportunities and in drawing attention to issues that can effect their realization; (The GFSS launched at the behest of your Committee is an integral part of the FAO outlook analysis work.)

· National forest programmes originally started as Tropical Forest Action Programmes and now exist in many countries as a framework for forestry development activities, including those with investment potential;

· Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management provide an internationally agreed basis for assessing progress towards sustainability goals.

Among other activities of interest to the private sector which COFO also highlighted are non-wood forest products, plantations and fuelwood. In certain other fields, COFO considered that other international organizations had comparative advantage over FAO; included among these is the field of trade and marketing. FAO is nevertheless requested to maintain some activity in this area.

Criteria and indicators

Many initiatives have been going since UNCED to develop criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. Inter-governmental dialogue has focused on agreeing upon criteria and indicators at the national level which can be applied to all types of forests. In parallel with these inter-governmental initiatives there has been a process driven more by environmental NGOs and the private sector to apply criteria and indicators at the management unit level and use them in certifying internationally-traded forest products for sustainability of origin. At its 1997 session, COFO focused on the inter-governmental processes but did not lose sight on issues and opportunities related to management-site application of criteria and indicators and associated trade certification.

Setting standards and procedures for assessing progress towards sustainable forestry will remain on the sector agenda for a long time and the private sector will be affected by decisions on this topic. The private sector can only gain from making its views based on practical experience adequately heard in fora where decisions or proposals are made. Its most important role would be to contribute to consensus-building around balanced standards which recognize conservation as well as economic and social objectives for forestry development.

Private sector participation in COFO and other FAO statutory fora

Officials who attend COFO and related FAO committees appreciate the importance of all interest groups being involved in forestry dialogue and activities. Paragraph 19 of the COFO report, contains the Committee's recommendation that its own meetings, programmes and activities, as well as those of Regional Forestry Commissions, should be open to and involve representatives of NGOs and the private sector. Furthermore, the Committee has, in paragraph 34, asked that contacts with the private sector through this Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products be enhanced.

The Advisory Committee may wish to propose ways for this to take effect, for example, to consider several approaches:

· to hold ACPWP meetings back-to-back with sessions of COFO or of Regional Forestry Commission sessions; (For example, the next session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, in February 1998, will discuss the outlook for forestry in that region - a subject like this needs a private sector perspective.)

· to be included in the official member delegations to FAO committee sessions (a practice some NGOs already benefit from); and

· to fully brief government delegations on private sector views where the expected agenda of statutory-body meetings are of particular interest to it.

FAO - State of the World's Forests

Ian J. Bourke

The following article is a reproduction of the executive summary of the “State of the World's Forests 1997” report, a publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations which was released in March 1997. SOFO is a biennial publication, which seeks to provide accurate, up-to-date and accessible information on the world's forests and on developments in the forestry sector. SOFO presents policy-relevant information on the status and trends of forests and forest products and services, new developments and emerging issues of significance in the sector, and external forces influencing forestry. It is written for a varied audience, including people working in governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with forestry policy and/or programmes, forestry enterprises and trade associations, research and educational institutions, and regional and international financial or development organizations.

SOFO 1997 is available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic. The electronic version of SOFO 1997 may be accessed on Internet through the home page of the FAO Forestry Department at http://www.FAO.ORG/waicent/faoinfo/forestry/forestry.htm. Readers wishing to order a printed copy may contact the FAO Information Division, Sales and Marketing Group, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy (e-mail:

The State of the World's Forests 1997 (SOFO 1997) presents information on the current status of the world's forests, major developments over the reporting period (1995-97), and recent trends and future directions in the forestry sector. The demands on forestry today are complex and challenging, and the debate on the role of forests in society - their purpose, their benefits and their beneficiaries - is as vigorous as ever.

Onwards from Rio

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 provided impetus and commitment to international activity focused on the world's forests. It led to the establishment, in April 1995, of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Forests (IPF) by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. The role of the IPF is to follow up UNCED recommendations on sustainable forest management and to encourage international consensus on key issues related to forests. The work of the IPF, together with that of international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, represents an unprecedented level of international forestry activity.

External impacts on forestry

Economic, political, demographic and social trends are shaping the management of forests and influencing national forest policy formulation and institutional arrangements. Demographic changes - both the growing size and increasing urbanization of the world's population - have had, and will continue to have, major impacts on forest cover and condition, demand for wood and non-wood forest products, and the ability of forests to fulfil essential environmental functions. Political and economic trends affecting the forestry sector include: decentralization; privatization; trade liberalization and globalization of the world economy; and overall economic growth, tempered by a widening gap between rich and poor in many countries.

Forest lands

The SOFO 1997 presents new information on global forest cover, including: the area of forests in 1995; change since 1990; and revised estimates for forest cover change between 1980 and 1990, all derived from the FAO Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) programme. The area of the world's forests, including natural forests and plantations, is estimated to have been 3 454 million ha in 1995, slightly more than half of which was in developing countries. Between 1990 and 1995, there was an estimated net loss of 56.3 million ha of forests worldwide, representing a decrease of 65.1 million ha in developing countries which was partly offset by an increase of 8.8 million ha in developed countries.

Considering only natural forests in developing countries, which is where most deforestation is occurring, the new estimates indicate that:

· the annual loss of natural forests between 1980 and 1990 was lower than the estimate made earlier by FRA 1990 (15.5 million ha vs. 16.3 million ha); and

· the annual loss of natural forests was lower during the 1990-1995 than the 1980-1990 period (13.7 million ha vs. 15.5 million ha).

In short, although deforestation continues to be significant in developing countries, the rate of loss of natural forests between 1980 and 1990 appears to have been slower than previously estimated, and to have decreased since then.

Deforestation and forest degradation are occurring in dryland and upland areas which already have limited forest cover and are fragile environments susceptible to soil erosion and other forms of degradation, and where poor communities are highly dependent on forests for food, fuel and income. Tropical rainforests and moist tropical forests, which are of local social and economic importance and of global significance for biological diversity conservation and climate regulation, are also undergoing rapid change.

Recent information on the nature and causes of change in forest cover in the tropics suggests that expansion of subsistence agriculture in Africa and Asia, and large economic development programmes involving resettlement, agriculture and infrastructure in Latin America and Asia, are key factors behind forest cover change. Although, in general, timber harvesting is not a direct cause of deforestation, it has been a facilitating factor in some areas through the construction of roads which make previously remote areas accessible to agricultural colonizers. Causes of forest degradation include excessive collection of fuelwood, overgrazing, fire, overharvesting of timber and poor harvesting practices.

In the coming decades, pressures for increased food production are expected to lead to continued conversion of forest land to agriculture in many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America where other options to meet food needs are limited.

Forest products

While the world's forest area has been steadily decreasing, there has been a continued increase in demand for wood products. The latest FAO forest products statistics, which provide figures through 1994, indicate that global consumption of wood increased by 36 percent between 1970 and 1994.

Demand for fuelwood, which is the main or sole source of domestic energy for two-fifths of the world's population, continues to grow by 1.2 percent per year. About 90 percent of the world's fuelwood is produced and used in developing countries. By contrast, developed countries account for 72 percent of the total world production and consumption of industrial wood products. While the rate of consumption in developed countries has levelled off, however, it continues to rise in developing countries.

Many countries are relying more on plantations and, in some places, on farm forestry and agroforestry, to supply their wood needs. The availability of wood from plantations in Asia, Oceania, and South America is increasing rapidly. The area of plantations in developing countries alone more than doubled from 40 million ha in 1980 to 81 million ha in 1995.

More efficient processing, increased recycling, and greater use of residues have enabled forest industries to raise the output of processed products significantly with a proportionally smaller increase of raw material. Other important recent trends include: diversifying raw material inputs, expanding product lines, and developing more environmentally-friendly processing technologies.

International trade in forest products, currently accounting for 6-8 percent of world roundwood production and an estimated value of US$ 114 000 million, continues to increase in economic importance. The developed countries dominate world trade in forest products, accounting for about 80 percent of the value of both exports and imports, but developing country regions, particularly Asia and Latin America, are becoming increasingly important. Recent regional trade agreements have helped diversify trade and increase infra-regional trade.

Concern has been raised over whether future demand for forest products can be met sustainably, given the world-wide increase in demand and decrease in forest area. Provisional results of an FAO global outlook study on trends to the year 2010 suggest that there should be sufficient wood to meet global demand until that time. Long-term adequacy of supply will depend upon sustainable management of forest resources. Trade in forest products is expected to increase, and will be necessary to offset major wood deficits projected for Asia and to ease a tight softwood supply expected in the US. Some developing countries, however, will have difficulty supplying their needs for industrial wood products because of a lack of capacity to import, and will have deficits of non-traded goods such as fuelwood. The global projections assume increasing recovery and recycling of paper and paperboard, and a higher reliance on plantations for wood production. FAO studies now under way on fibre supply projections complement the outlook study; together, they will provide a clearer picture of the future wood demand and supply situation.

While wood is the predominant commercial product from forests, recently increased attention has been paid to the actual and potential economic role of non-wood forest products (NWFPs). Although their use is poorly quantified and their value is generally underestimated in national accounts, the importance of NWFPs to household and local economies, particularly among the poor in developing countries, is increasingly recognized, as is their potential for greater commercialization. Currently at least 150 NWFPs are significant in international trade, for a total estimated value of US$ 11 100 million. Expanding trade in NWFPs would favour developing countries, which are the main suppliers to international markets. Consistent policies and governmental support needed for sustainable commercial development of NWFPs, however, are still lacking in most countries.

The environmental functions of forests

The increased importance ascribed to the environmental functions of forests and their integral role in sustainable forest management was highlighted by Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 (Combating Deforestation) and the “Forest Principles” adopted at UNCED. It is also reflected in recently enacted international conventions, including: the International Convention to Combat Desertification; the Convention on Biological Diversity; and the Framework Convention on Global Climate Change. These conventions are expected to reinforce ongoing national, regional and international activities in these areas. Follow-up to the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Istanbul, 1996) and other efforts to improve the urban environment are likely to heighten the focus on urban and peri-urban forestry. Most recently, the World Food Summit (FAO, Rome, 1996) drew international attention to the role of forests and trees in food security, particularly in supporting agricultural production systems, but also in supplementing food supplies and providing fuel for cooking, and in generating income.

Recent developments in forest management which reflect the increased emphasis on environmental services of forests include: efforts to manage forests as ecological systems (taking into consideration forests' protective functions and their role in the conservation of biological diversity); adoption of reduced-impact logging systems and development of codes of harvesting practice; and restrictions placed on timber harvesting in forests in North America and some tropical Asian and Pacific countries. Environmental concerns have also led to certification schemes and export controls for forest products. The trend towards increased involvement of nearby communities in forest management, particularly in developing countries, allows for greater consideration to be given to local environmental concerns and to the social benefits derived locally from forests.

Evolving institutional framework

Rapidly evolving institutional arrangements for forest planning and management reflect changing priorities and approaches within the sector, and external economic and political trends. Current areas of focus in many developing countries are: the development and institutionalization of participatory forest management systems; recognition of access rights of local communities to forest resources; and issues related to forest-dependent indigenous peoples. Increased emphasis on environmental functions of forests has led several developing countries to shift some of the responsibilities of forestry departments to recently-established departments of environment or natural resources. In countries in transition, changes in ownership of forest land and forest enterprises have had a significant impact on forest management. There is a general trend in many countries, towards privatization of public forest enterprises and of research and extension functions. World-wide developments affecting forestry institutions include: reductions in budgets and staff of forestry departments; decentralization of forest administrations; and continued efforts to develop mechanisms to involve a wide range of interest groups in forestry policy formulation and planning.

Sustainable forest management

Many efforts, governmental and non-governmental, national and international, have been made to promote sustainable forest management. Major international initiatives include: the International Tropical Timber Organization's “Year 2000 Objective”, in which producer member countries have committed themselves to having all their internationally-traded tropical timber come from sustainably-managed forests by the year 2000; and national and regional efforts to define criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and to determine means of assessing progress towards achieving it. The latter involves a number of regional initiatives, most of which have been launched since 1995, focusing on: humid tropical forests in ITTO producer countries; boreal, temperate and Mediterranean forests in Europe (the “Helsinki Process”); temperate and boreal forests outside Europe (the “Montreal Process”); Amazon basin forests (the “Tarapoto Proposal”); and forests in dry-zone sub-Saharan Africa (the UNEP/FAO Dry-Zone Africa Initiative); in the Near East region (FAO/UNEP Expert Meeting for the Near East); and in Central America (FAO/CCAD Expert Meeting on Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in Central America).

Continued progress towards more widespread sustainable forest management will depend on: improved information on the world's forest resources; strengthened sector planning based upon improved methods of forest valuation; better intersectoral linkages and continued constructive dialogue between various interest groups; strengthened forestry institutions; and improved coordination among the various entities involved in forest management and resource use. Most important, implementing sustainable forest management will depend on local, national and international commitment to achieving it.

Outcome of the First World Conference on Finance and Marketing for the Pulp and Paper Industries

Bernard E. Majani
Papercast, Paris

I would just like to give you a brief presentation on the outcome of the First World Conference on Finance and Marketing (for the Pulp and Paper Industries), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 7 to 9 April 1997. It was organized jointly by Papercast, the Brazilian Association of Pulp Exporters (ABECEL), and also the Brazilian Association of Pulp and Paper Producers (ANFPC). In fact, if you will allow me, I will take this opportunity to thank Mr Mario Leonel, the Managing Director of the ANFPC, who contributed so much to the conference's success. We had about 450 personalities from over 30 countries around the world. Bankers, financial analysts and investors were numerous, as were the companies supplying equipment, products and services to the pulp and paper industry. Consequently, participants benefited from a truly global view of the pulp and paper industry, covering financial and marketing topics, and in many instances, companies' strategies.

I would also like to mention that Mr Luis Deslandes of SOPORCEL gave an excellent speech at the conference on the analysis of the world supply and demand of pulp and paper. A presentation was also made by Mr Jeremy Wall of the European Commission, whose presence in Brazil clearly showed the interest of the European Union for sustainable forestry as well as their interest in emerging countries.

Mr John W. (Jack) Creighton, President, Weyerhaeuser Company, USA, gave the keynote address. According to him, the first imperative is to be profitable. This is the only way to raise the large required equity capital from shareholders, to guarantee supply, to devote research to improving products and to maintain mills and plants in first-class operating condition, in order to ensure consistent supplies of high quality products to customers. Excellent financial performance is also critically important to employees as it is required for training, job security and competitive wages for all. It is, also a requirement for developing the civic and cultural amenities of the community where the companies are implanted. Jack Creighton also stressed the imperative to perform well environmentally. First of all, we cannot afford to spoil the planet where we live. And secondly, because all stakeholders are environmentalists to one degree or another.

In a most enlightening presentation in Manaus, Mr Roberta Samanez-Mercado, Chief Technical Adviser to the FAO project in support of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, stressed the immensity of the Amazon basin with its more than 1000 tributaries and its extremely large diversity be it geological, hydrological, ecological, climatic, social, economic or political.

Roberta Samanez took upon himself to destroy the many myths associated with this great region. Of course, it has never been the El Dorado promised to the early Conquistadores. However, other myths subsist such as that of the region's homogeneity; the myth of the great emptiness or virginity of the Amazon, although it is inhabited by some 20 million human beings, including one million of indigenous descent; the myth of the Amazon's immense riches or poverty; the myth that Amazonia is the “lungs of the earth” although it emits as much CO2 as it removes from the atmosphere; the myth of the Indian peoples as an obstacle to development or that of the Indian model as the only solution to development. The truth is that the Amazon generates global environmental services and has economic values. If a large part of Amazonia is to be maintained in the form of protected areas which contain optionally useful resources, the respective countries which abstain from using them should be compensated: “If collecting domestic refuse has a cost and provides environmental services, then conserving a natural area also has a value of non-use. Unless this is admitted, protecting the Amazon will not progress adequately as there is no way to block the exploitation of certain resources which are urgently necessary for the countries of the Amazon basin, without proposing compensation for their non-utilization”.

Several speakers talked about the growth of pulp and paper production and consumption in the main regions of the world: Europe, North America and Latin America, China and Southeast Asian countries. Mr Karl-Hermann Schmincke, Director, Forest Products Division, FAO, Italy, described the growth potential and fibre requirements to meet pulp, paper and paperboard demand to 2010. It is clear that new sources of industrial roundwood will have to be found, besides the natural and semi-natural forest, to meet the consumption forecast of a 1.7 percent yearly growth over the 1994 consumption of 3.2 billion m3. This can be accomplished by increasing the amount of recovered paper, non-wood fibre and industrial plantation forests.

This is what is being done in Brazil with a US$ 13 billion investment programme in new pulp and paper mills which will allow to nearly double production by 2005. Major growth is also expected in Southeast Asia and particularly in Indonesia.

As stated by Mr Sukanto Tanoto, Chairman, RGM International Corporation, Indonesia: “The era when Asia had to rely solely on pulp and paper produced from slow-growing trees, by highly paid workers and then shipped halfway around the world, is changing.”

The First World Conference on Finance and Marketing brought together, perhaps for the first time, high ranking executives from many of the world's regions, including from emerging and developing countries. It was clear to all that this was a great occasion to listen to and to meet responsible people from far away lands with different cultures, different problems and different objectives. To the surprise of many who are often ready to accuse others for the industry's financial plights, newcomers from the emerging countries appear just as anxious and capable of earning a just return on their major investments. “Successful market penetration strategies are not necessarily confrontational” said Sukanto Tanoto. They can be pursued in ways that benefit the market as a whole, offering existing players something more than a zero sum game.

To conclude this brief summary of the First World Conference on Finance and Marketing, it is good to give as an example of deep concern for the environment Klabin's forest operations at their mill in the State of ParanĂ¡. As many other Brazilian companies, Klabin owns large plantations of pine and eucalyptus forests (208 000 ha). In addition, it owns 100 000 ha of permanently preserved native forests - an unusually large area - in order to maintain the region's rich biodiversity. The company also runs educational environmental programmes for the local community through its Nature Interpretation Centre which was visited by a sizeable group of the conference participants. This very large centre offers learning and scientific activities, ecological trails in the woods and a park for breeding wild animals. Every year, about 20 000 people visit this ecological centre, many of whom are school children from the region and many other places in Brazil. Teaching young people to love and care for nature is certainly the most apt answer to promote the protection of the environment - far more efficient than any laws. It is a good example to be followed everywhere.