G8 ACTION PROGRAMME ON FORESTS - BACKGROUNDERS
Table of Contents
G8 ACTION PROGRAMME ON FORESTS - BACKGROUNDERS
The G8 Action Programme on Forests was launched in 1998 to address five issues of particular importance in addressing the continuing pressure on the world's forests and in achieving sustainable forest management (SFM): 1) monitoring and assessment; 2) national forest programmes; 3) protected areas; 4) private sector; and 5) illegal logging. A first Report on the Implementation of the Action Programme was prepared for G8 Foreign Ministers, who met in Miyazaki, on July 13, 2000, who directed the G8 forest experts to prepare a final report on the Action Programme. This document entitled "G8 Action Programme on Forests - Backgrounders" complements the "G8 Action Programme on Forests - Final Report" that addresses primarily collaborative action taken by G8 members and outlines challenges for the future in working towards SFM. The backgrounders provide more detailed information on efforts of G8 members domestically and internationally, on an individual and bilateral level as well as collaboratively to address the five priority areas.
Many of the efforts and future plans of G8 members in working toward SFM depend on reliable tools to monitor and assess a number of issues, from the current state of forests to the effects of fires. Developing and using criteria and indicators (C & I) for SFM, building capacity for independent and on the ground monitoring, and using remote sensing data and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies, G8 members have worked to enhance activities ranging from fire prevention to detection of illegal logging to long-range planning.
G8 members involved in the Montréal Process Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests are producing national reports assessing the state of their forests, to be released in 2003 as the First Montréal Process Forest Report. These reports will provide invaluable baseline data against which countries can assess changes in their forests as well as the need for revised policies and new approaches to forest management; they will also contribute to the development of pilot programs on C & I implementation. Moreover, G8 members involved in the Pan-European Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe have developed a comprehensive set of C & I for SFM to monitor and assess the state of the forests in these countries. Further to use at national and Pan-European levels, the results of the assessments contribute to several international processes and instruments in the field of forestry and environment. Recognising that forests are an international asset as well as a national resource, G8 members of the Montréal and Pan-European Processes are helping developing countries to produce their own national reports. Further assistance is provided in the form of workshops and technical expertise for creating and implementing C & I.
G8 members have also worked closely with the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) on the development of C & I, which they have helped producers of tropical timber to refine and implement. Other developments to emerge from the ITTO, supported by G8 members, include the creation of a format for the reporting of progress in implementing ITTO C & I, setting of guidelines to establish auditing systems for those C & I, and approval and financial support for projects to improve the capacity of several producer countries to monitor and assess their forests.
In November 2001, Japan hosted a country-led initiative in Yokohama in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), with the aim of contributing to UNFF deliberations on monitoring, assessment and reporting on the progress towards SFM. The meeting, which was co-sponsored by the United States along with several other countries, provided a forum for exchanging views on monitoring, assessment and reporting within the UNFF context.
A major initiative has seen G8 members collaborating in support of the Global Observation of Forest Cover project, launched by the multilateral Committee on Earth Observation Satellites. The project integrates contributions from NASA and other United States agencies, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, the European Space Agency and Japan's National Space Development Agency. G8 members also supported the production of one of the first wall-to-wall global maps estimating the percentage of forest cover based on satellite data.
Italy was a major supporter of a project to map the land cover of East Africa based on satellite remote sensing as part of UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) assistance to the countries of the Nile Basin. Completed in 2000, the project strengthens the abilities of these countries to plan natural resource development and sustainable management by producing reliable land cover maps and strengthening remote sensing capabilities.
Further to support of and active participation in the assessments of forests conducted by the FAO, Germany supports the World Resources Institute's (WRI) Global Forest Watch project to complete detailed mapping of intact and potentially intact forests for major forested regions of the world, especially in the Amazon region, and to assemble data on the location of logging concessions and other developments within intact forests, where available.
Japan's backing of a project analysing forest conditions using satellite remote sensing technologies in the Asian region, including Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Viet Nam, is contributing to the development of forest maps and inventories for forest management plans in these countries.
G8 members have supported the implementation of the second phase B data synthesis and analysis B of the Global Boreal Forest Mapping project and created a new land cover map depicting the forest extent as of the year 2000 as part of the joint European Commission-Russian Sib TREES (Tropical Ecosystem Environment Observations by Satellite) project that aims to support the development of sustainable management policies for Siberian forests. Furthermore, France in co-operation with the Russian Federation launched a project aimed at using remote-sensing technologies to assess and monitor Siberian forests. In addition, the Russian Federation is establishing a single national system of environmental monitoring, which covers forest territories.
Canada has developed a cost-effective combination of computer software and airborne remote-sensing technology that produces detailed, meaningful pictures of forest composition. It automatically groups trees according to characteristics such as their species, enabling the faster creation of more accurate inventories, pinpointing of areas that are ready to harvest and detection of areas in need of protection or regeneration. A further project, Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests, will see federal, provincial and territorial partners working together to monitor the sustainable development of Canada's forests from space.
Satellite data and related mapping techniques were used to further the European Commission's Joint Research Centre TREES project, which is dedicated to developing techniques for global humid tropical forest inventory and deforestation monitoring. The second phase of the TREES project has produced statistically sound figures documenting changes in humid tropical forest cover from the Kyoto baseline year 1990. G8 members supported forest inventory, mapping and monitoring projects around the world. They also used satellite imagery to undertake a global assessment of cover change of mangrove forests in Asia, West Africa and Latin America.
France has made major strides in monitoring and assessment thanks to a shift to satellite images from aerial photography and to spatialised estimations from statistical estimations derived from sampling theory.
Germany is conducting its second federal forest inventory, which expanded on its predecessor by adding information on growth, removals and ecological parameters and by carrying out a comprehensive forest condition monitoring programme. Japan launched a new Nation-wide Forest Resources Monitoring System to monitor and assess the forest resources, taking into account the Montréal Process C & I. The United Kingdom conducted the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees, a wide-ranging survey of public and private woodlands assessing environmental characteristics as well as the timber resource. It also commissioned an independent report on the health and vitality of its forestry businesses. The Russian Federation developed and commenced to apply GIS-based methods for annual forest inventories to strengthen both federal and regional monitoring of forest ecosystems.
The United States is conducting a comprehensive national assessment of the status of and trends in its forest conditions and management based on the Montréal Process C & I. This assessment is being conducted with nation-wide input from the USA forestry community, and results will be released in 2003. France recently published its second issue of "Indicators for the Sustainable Management of French Forests" that includes comprehensive data, illustrates trends and allows for easy comparison with the first edition published in 1995.
The US Forest Service is supporting the development, adaption, and implementation of several countries' forest inventory and monitoring efforts in Latin American in co-operation with the FAO. Furthermore, the USA maintains a Remote Sensing Applications Centre that specialises in integrating remote sensing and GIS technologies to collect and manage resource data. The wide-ranging projects undertaken include vegetation and land cover mapping, change detection, restoration of burned areas, wildlife habitat modelling, law enforcement investigations and resource surveys. Internationally, the US has used its remote sensing expertise and technology to help analyse causes of fires in the Brazilian Amazon and generate forest inventory and monitoring data in Mexico, Russia and Africa.
The Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere project in Amazonia also received G8 support. It studies how changes in land use, including forest cover, will affect the biological, chemical and physical functions of Amazonia. The project will ultimately help researchers from around the world to understand how the region functions and how best to guide its sustainable use.
Furthermore, G8 members supported and participated in the World Fire Web initiative, which established a global network for mapping active fires and burned areas, and participated in the Global Fire Monitoring Center, which interprets and synthesises global fire data.
Despite these many efforts, G8 members realise that there are still too many gaps in our knowledge of the world's forests. The G8 places a high priority on effective monitoring, assessment and reporting and wishes to work collaboratively to further such knowledge to the benefit of all.
In this context, an important project on the horizon is the second International Conference on C & I (ICCI-2), to be held in Guatemala in July 2002. G8 members will work to facilitate and sponsor the conference, which has the following goals: strengthening the elaboration and application of C & I; promoting political commitment for the use of C & I; strengthening institutional capacity and stakeholder partnerships to implement C & I; and contributing to the work of the UNFF and to international initiatives on C & I.
G8 members will also work to support enhancements to governments, local and indigenous and local communities' and independent organisations' abilities to monitor and assess forest conditions within bilateral and multilateral development assistance programs.
While in all G8 countries, the establishment of national forest programmes (NFPs) is well under way, there is still much to do within the G8 and, perhaps more importantly, in supporting developing countries in working toward a common, global goal of SFM. NFPs remain one of the most useful frameworks to attain that goal.
Cognisant both of the importance of having an updated NFP and of their ability to act as international leaders, many G8 partners reviewed their NFPs and assessed their progress on implementing proposals for action emanating from the Intergovernmental Panel and Forum on Forests.
In July 2001, the French Parliament adopted a new Forest Law, taking into consideration the recommendations of the international forest policy dialogue. The law was passed unanimously, which is a rare occurrence in the French Parliament.
In 2001, Japan revised the Forestry Basic Law and enacted the new Forests and Forestry Basic Law, which was guided by the principles of SFM. It provides for the creation of the new Forests and Forestry Basic Plan, which sets out concrete policies and goals along with the programmes necessary to their achievement. The Plan, which is an integral part of Japan's NFP, is to be revised every five years, as are the corollary Nationwide and Regional Forest Plans. The government has begun a Nation-wide Forest Resources Monitoring System, which applies C & I for SFM to policy development.
Canada has implemented four National Forest Strategies, the latest of which is the National Forest Strategy (1998-2003), Sustainable Forests: A Canadian Commitment. Each has led to a more concise definition of sustainable forests and increased Canadians' commitment to action. Central to Canada's National Forest Strategy is an independent evaluation of the strategy at its mid-point and again at its end. The first evaluation of the latest strategy concluded that it was being aggressively implemented.
In September 1999, Germany began the process of bringing together governmental and non-governmental groups interested in forests at roundtable discussions aimed at consolidating the existing elements of forest policy into an NFP at the federal level. An initial result was the publishing of the NFP 1999/2000 in autumn 2000. In the spring of 2001, the various stakeholders agreed to continue the process for at least another two years.
Between 1997 and 2000, the Russian Federation implemented four forestry-oriented federal target programmes including "Forests of Russia" and "Forest Fire Management". In December 2001, the Russian Government adopted a new federal target program entitled "Ecology and Natural Resources of Russia (2002-2010)", which includes the sub-programme of "Forests" as an integral component. It will also create a federal programme of timber industry restructuring aimed at establishing a sound, competitive timber industry dedicated to sound economics and sustainable development. The United Kingdom updated and improved its SFM strategy while devolving forestry responsibilities to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The United States issued new draft planning regulations that emphasise sustainable management of national forests, provide direction for working toward sustainability and recognise the importance of monitoring. The USA organised their Resource Planning Assessment 2000 in accordance with the seven Montréal Process C & I groups for better integration of discussions and identification of linkages and synergies.
The European Commission has undertaken an independent and thorough analysis of the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel/Forum on Forests (IPF/IFF) proposals for actions through various forest related European Community policies and programmes. This analysis revealed the relevance of the IPF/IFF proposals for action to the European Community, as well as the degree of implementation and the gaps. The results of this study will lead to a report to UNFF3 and will form an integral part of further developments of forest related European Commission policies and programmes.
The work of G8 members is not limited to their own countries. G8 members are also working closely with developing nations to help them create their own NFPs tailored to their needs. At a time of continuing domestic upheaval in Indonesia, G8 members are standing alongside the World Bank-led Consultative Group on Indonesia in supporting that country's commitment to the NFP concept and to an eight-point action programme aimed at combating illegal logging, banning conversion of natural forests, restructuring the forestry industry and decentralising.
G8 members continued to support a Pilot Programme to Conserve Brazilian Tropical Forests as a joint undertaking involving the Brazilian government and civil society. The aim of the programme is to maximise the environmental benefits of the forests, consistent with the country's development goals.
Together with the World Bank, Italy funded a forestry project providing technical assistance to Albania. This project strengthens the major government department in charge of forest management, and facilitates its transformation into a forest corporation. It also provides training in project evaluation and establishes a system to monitor the status of Albanian forests.
The United Kingdom has established long-term programmes to support the creation and implementation of NFPs in Malawi and Uganda. It also completed two studies related to climate change and forests in developing countries.
France is involved in a project in the Congo Basin, aimed at building capacity while demonstrating the viability of good practices. Background data for concrete SFM practices is being compiled in conservation areas and logged zones.
Germany is supporting the elaboration and implementation of NFPs in a number of developing partner countries, such as Cambodia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Uganda and Viet Nam. A major focus within German support to NFP processes is the elaboration of national financing strategies.
Japan is also supporting the development and implementation of NFPs in the Asian region (e.g. Indonesia, Laos and Viet Nam) and addressing priority issues, including watershed management and rehabilitation of degraded lands and forests, within the context of NFPs in a number of developing countries worldwide.
Canada's bilateral assistance programs, along with those in the US, address priority areas in a number of developing countries within the context of their NFPs; these include fire management, invasive species and watershed management.
G8 members are also assisting in Viet Nam=s efforts to rehabilitate its forests to benefit the environment, the economy and its people's well-being. Based on the application of NFP principles, a Forest Sector Support Programme was formulated in 2001; it sets policies, strategies, priorities and principles of implementation for both foreign and domestic support for the Vietnamese forest sector.
While G8 member countries can be proud of the progress they have made thus far in developing and implementing their NFPs, and in supporting those of developing countries, the key in coming years will be to continue to nurture and promote the principles behind such programmes.
It is a broadly accepted belief among G8 members that improved public participation is essential to SFM, particularly if the full range of forest values is to be integrated into management regimes. Discussions among governments, indigenous peoples, industry, forest owners, labour, environmental groups, researchers and other interested parties will help to create NFPs that balance the environmental, economic, social and cultural demands being placed on forests.
G8 support for the NFP process in developing countries, if it is to result in well-managed forests all over the world, must be co-ordinated with aid efforts. Improved social conditions enable people to value forests for a range of benefits, rather than simply as a source of foreign exchange.
In nearly half of the countries intending to implement an NFP, the process has stagnated, particularly in developing countries that depend on external financial support. Through bilateral assistance, as well as through membership in and support of UN bodies, G8 members will continue to address these challenges by supporting work to facilitate implementation of NFPs at the country level and to develop policy and finance instruments to help achieve SFM at the international level. Examples of key initiatives in this regard include the Programme on Forests (PROFOR), which was transferred to the World Bank in January 2002 and the NFP facility launched by the FAO to support capacity building.
As technology makes us ever more aware of our neighbours around the globe, it also raises our awareness of our shared resources. No longer can G8 members see their actions as affecting only their own land and inhabitants. It is clearer than ever that clean water, pure air and healthy forests are a legacy not just to the children of one country, but to the children of the world. That is why the protection of the world's forests has been among the main concerns of the G8 Action Programme on Forests. Moreover, G8 members recognise the need to address the risk of the potential presence of "paper parks".
G8 member countries such as France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, along with the European Union, are focusing on the importance of the Pan-European Work Programme on the Conservation and Enhancement of Biological and Landscape Diversity in Forest Ecosystems. Priorities include the establishment of a pan-European system of protected forest areas, an improved classification system for protected forest areas in Europe, as well as the improvement of the pan-European indicators for SFM, including forest biodiversity indicators.
European G8 members have also further developed the European Union (EU) ecological network of protected areas called Natura 2000. Natura 2000 was set up under the EU "Birds" and "Habitats" directives, the two main instruments for the conservation of wild species and their habitats within the European Community. Natura 2000, addressing "Special Protection Areas" and "Special Conservation Areas", is expected to cover some 10-15% of EU territory, with the majority of its area consisting of forests.
While there are many different types of areas that are protected to preserve their biodiversity, forests are the most common. The US is actively engaged in dialogue and review concerning roadless area conservation efforts in national forests and has just established a top ten priority list for park restoration. G8 countries have done much to consolidate or, as in the case of Italy, significantly expand both the number and size of protected forest areas. France launched several research projects to further its understanding of protected forest areas, including one aimed at collecting data on existing forest reserves and protected forest areas. German Laender have established a system of natural forest reserves, an effort aimed at protecting forest ecosystems and allowing them to develop undisturbed. The Russian Federation is expanding its network of strictly protected areas of federal significance, representing all natural zones of the country, including forest lands of the highest value from an environmental, scientific, historical, aesthetic and recreational standpoint. Japan's National Forest Management has introduced Green Corridors, linking protected forests and thereby creating ecosystem networks and enhancing the protection and conservation of the forest ecosystem.
Working with other international agencies B including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention, the FAO, the ITTO and the UNFF B, G8 countries are helping to establish and manage protected forest areas around the world. Debt restructuring, particularly for some of the world's poorest countries, is proving to be one mutually beneficial way to encourage the establishment of protected forest areas. Within the context of a German-Malagasy debt relief program, Madagascar agreed to allocate a portion of the freed up funds to a planned trust fund for biodiversity conservation. This commitment could be declared as a national contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to mobilise additional funds for the trust fund.
G8 members have supported ITTO projects that promote the establishment and management of transboundary protected areas/conservation reserves in tropical countries such as Peru and Ecuador, Cameroon and Gabon, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, and Indonesia and Malaysia. Also, a major Italian initiative involved the adoption of a participatory management approach to natural resources in Morocco's Taza province. Italy's Department of Development Cooperation has actively supported transboundary collaboration to protect shared ecosystems in parks straddling countries such as Peru and Bolivia, and South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The US launched a newly developed "Protected Areas Management Course" to enable participants from around the world to learn about the US approaches to protected area management.
Despite these many efforts, the crucial question for G8 members on how protected forest areas are to be created and sustained in developing countries where forests are a ready source of income, fuel and sustenance, remains a challenge. One tool that members will continue to use in the future is debt restructuring and/or forgiveness, particularly with those highly indebted countries or countries in tropical areas where money invested in conserving biodiversity has the greatest payoff. As major donors to these countries, G8 members are in an ideal position to use the principles of biodiversity protection to influence both the creation of protected forest areas and plans for large-scale infrastructure developments such as roads, dams and mines.
Another major challenge facing G8 countries is the creation of Transboundary Protected Areas (TBPAs) where forests are shared among two or more countries. G8 members will continue to work with organisations such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to create and manage the 142 TBPAs that have been identified worldwide. TBPAs offer an excellent opportunity for G8 members to simultaneously further several SFM issues while promoting regional collaboration.
There are other benefits to the creation of TBPAs; although they are often found in politically or socio-economically sensitive areas, in the midst of territorial disputes or social conflicts, their situations make them ideal candidates for the application of the "Peace Parks" concept. Italy has been particularly active, along with other G8 members, in a partnership with the IUCN and the GEF to develop "Peace Parks" in areas of conflict.
It is already apparent that forest ecosystems are more easily and comprehensively studied when they are part of a protected area. It is essential, then, that future efforts by G8 countries focus on finding ways to protect forests and their biodiversity not only among their own members, but also in developing countries for whom the creation of protected areas may initially seem to be a luxury. Further efforts will be required to achieve adequate ecological and geographical representativeness of protected forest areas and to ensure that those areas are effectively managed and not just so-called "paper parks". Increased involvement of the local population in the designation and management of protected areas will also be important to maximise the benefits to them.
It is important to remember that governments, even after extensive consultation with various stakeholders, benefit most not from moving unilaterally, but from working with the private sector to find the best possible approach for all involved. The private sector is more than just the forestry industry, however; the G8 Action Programme defines the private sector as "forest owners, forest industries, civil society, non-governmental and community-based organisations and indigenous peoples". Working with such a diverse group ensures that decisions will be the best possible for all residents in all sectors of society.
In this context, G8 members continue to participate in fora aimed at fostering discussion among private sector groups, and between those groups and various levels of government. One notable example is The Forests Dialogue under the Sustainable Forest Industry Working Group co-chaired by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute, with secretariat support from Yale University, School of Forestry in the United States. Conservation groups, forestry firms, academics and labour representatives from around the world work together to reduce conflict and identify a common vision on forest values. The forum covers such issues as illegal logging, forest certification and intensification of forest management.
Another valuable forum is the International Forest Industry Round Table, which has provided a way for the forest industry to become more engaged in international forest policy discussions. G8 members such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States bring their expertise to those discussions, which have most recently been focussed on the issue of mutual recognition of certification systems.
While it is sometimes a contentious subject, the idea of certifying forests is becoming an undeniable market reality. Consumers, especially in Europe and the United States, are showing increasing interest in certified forest products. Several certification systems have been developed and are being used in some form by many major forest product producer countries. The involvement of the private sector in both developing and implementing these systems is essential if certification is to genuinely promote the sustainable use of forests.
G8 members have been involved in specific bilateral projects in the developing world to support sustainable use of forests by the private sector. One example is Italy's work in Peru's Madre de Dios basin, which encourages indigenous communities to identify and undertake entrepreneurial activities based on the rainforest's renewable resources.
Germany supports the certification process in several developing partner countries. For example, activities in the Amazon region include capacity building, support to national initiatives for the development of certification standards and the formation of buyers' and producers' groups.
Japan established a fund to support private sector groups' activities to co-operate with their counterparts in China who are engaged in afforestation programmes. Canada and the United States co-sponsored an event in April 2002 convening environmentalists, the forest products industry and retailers and buyers from around the world to highlight shared values and opportunities to promote trade in responsible forest products. The United Kingdom is supporting the transfer of state-owned plantations to new management in South Africa through a major restructuring process and the development of partnerships between the private sector and local communities.
G8 countries recognise the need to continue to engage with the private sector to ensure both a healthy forestry industry and healthy forests. Work with the private sector on defining its role in providing financial support for SFM, particularly in developing countries, remains a priority.
G8 members also acknowledge the significant contributions of community forestry. They note the importance of continuing to find ways to showcase the forest sector as an important means to achieve sustainable development goals in both the developed and developing worlds.
Considerable gains have been made among G8 members and other industrialized countries toward the creation and implementation of forest management plans, which are important tools in defining private and public sector actions in forests. Private sector bodies such as the Association technique internationale des bois tropicaux are working to promote both the sustainable management of tropical forests and tropical timber as a renewable resource.
A relatively recent trend in private sector investment holds promise for the future of the world's forests. Financial markets have begun to establish a variety of investment vehicles that support SFM around the globe. Mutual funds that screen companies for their forestry practices before investing, so-called green investment guidelines such as those recently announced by the Netherlands bank ABN AMRO and rising support for the fair trade movement, are all signs that consumers in the developing world are becoming extremely interested in the promotion of sustainable forest practices in their own countries and around the world. This type of consumer interest, known generally as "socially responsible investment", has the potential to provide significant financing for sustainable forestry in the developing world.
It is also important to acknowledge that poor diligence on investments and lending from pension funds, banks and export credit agencies could have a negative impact on SFM. Specific measures such as due diligence rules and sustainable impact assessments need to be further developed and applied to steer those investments towards SFM, thus minimising potential risks.
The further development of voluntary certification systems would do much to promote consumption of products originating in sustainably managed forests, facilitate socially responsible investment and increase industry efficiency. As the majority of certified forests are in industrialised countries, there is a need to strengthen support to forest certification in developing countries. This is indeed a challenge, given the range of existing certification systems, but one that several private sector groups and G8 countries are already addressing through dialogue with all affected parties. Continued efforts in the mutual recognition of certification systems should be further encouraged.
In their work to encourage SFM in the developing world, however, it is important for G8 members to remember the potential impact of changes to traditional practices. For instance, the introduction of more productive forestry technologies may result in job losses, thus creating new pressures on both government and civil society. In managing the change process, it is important to address such risks and to look for additional value-added in forestry practices.
G8 members must also continue to review the quality and safety of employment in the forestry sector, which remains one of the most dangerous occupations for workers around the world. Contributions, such as those by the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers, are essential to the process of safeguarding both workers and the forests on which they depend.
While illegal logging practices are not an overriding concern in G8 countries themselves, G8 members have a responsibility to work with developing nations to curb such practices. Through a two-pronged approach that addresses the roles of both producer and consumer countries, G8 members are leading the way in combating the problem of illegal logging throughout the world.
The ground-breaking work of the East Asia Ministerial Conference on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance, held in Bali in 2001, highlighted the ways in which governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector have begun to work together to combat illegal logging.
Measures to support producer countries include better law enforcement, institutional and legislative reforms and regulation of industry. Through their political, financial and technical contributions, G8 members have worked with Indonesia's Ministry of Forests and Estate Crops to enhance understanding of that country's forest resources and how best to achieve sustainability through government policy.
They have encouraged reform of legislation and policies that provide incentives for compliance in countries such as Cameroon and Ghana. They have helped build capacity for monitoring and control of illegal logging in Indonesia, and develop independent monitoring and verification techniques to track forest crimes in countries such as Cambodia and Cameroon.
As part of its overall efforts to create a strong and sustainable timber industry, the Russian Federation is improving its system of forest use and management planning to allow for more precise assessments of timber resource potential and actual use. It is also introducing forest resource certification procedures and eco-labelling to help prevent illegal harvesting of timber.
Measures taken in consumer countries include encouraging labelling and certification and changes to government procurement policies. For instance, the government of the United Kingdom has committed itself to actively seek out timber from legal and sustainable sources. The European Community is currently developing a "European Union Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade" to combat illegal logging and associated trade and to strengthen international cooperation to address violations of forest law and forest crime. Japan has been supporting ITTO activities to combat illegal logging problems, including capacity building, study and analysis of trade data on tropical timber products and development of a timber statistics and information system. The G8 is also supporting initiatives that build on the results of a meeting held in Germany in the autumn of 2001 to identify the scope for further developing anatomical, chemical and DNA fingerprint methods for identification of traded timber and its origin.
Perhaps the greatest success of the G8 in this respect is putting the issue of illegal logging on the international agenda. As a result, considerable political and public attention has been focussed on the environmental degradation and income lost to poor people and their governments, as well as the tendency of illegal logging to provoke and sustain conflict.
Despite widespread interest in and agreement on the need to combat illegal logging, maintaining the momentum already achieved is paramount if such efforts are to succeed. The best way to preserve and build that political and popular support is to deliver tangible results, showing that G8-supported measures to curb illegal logging are effective. Demonstrating such results will require producer and consumer countries to follow through on their commitments, as well as requiring clear progress on agreements between major exporting and importing countries.
Continued co-operation is vital. The European Community, France, the United Kingdom and the United States are working with the World Bank on another Ministerial Conference on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, which will likely be held early in 2003 in Brazzaville.
It is also essential that industrialised nations not focus exclusively on illegal logging in tropical countries. Countries in temperate and boreal regions often have their own law enforcement problems, and must focus on solving those if they are to have legitimacy in international discussions. By emphasising the admittedly serious nature of illegal logging in the tropics, more northern nations run the risk of dissuading customers from buying any tropical timber, which would unfairly punish all producers instead of targeting the scoff laws.
Research of G8 partners on wood DNA analysis may ultimately prove useful to the work of catching and thwarting tree thieves. Scientists in several G8 countries are refining methods that may soon make it possible to match a specific log with its stump, allowing them to determine whether it was harvested without authorisation.
Critical issues to be addressed on the topic of illegal logging are:
- engagement of forest communities;
- a range of reforms (economic; land tenure; policy and legislation; customs and law enforcement);
- tracking and chain of custody;
- development of bilateral, inter- and intra-regional, and multilateral arrangements;
- capacity building and technology transfer.
Over the past four years, G8 forest experts have worked together to complement the extensive range of actions undertaken by other regional and international processes aimed at SFM. The diverse extent and nature of G8 members forest ecosystems, land ownership patterns, governance and regulatory systems, and terms of aid and international cooperation have contributed significantly to enhancing the understanding of implementing SFM worldwide. The "G8 Action Programme on Forests - Final Report" outlines the accomplishments of G8 members in the five priority areas of the Action Programme along with G8 members' commitment to continue to address the challenges facing the world's forests.
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