13 May 2011, New York – As discussions draw to a close at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in UN Headquarters this week, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an international mechanism composed of 14-forest related organizations and secretariats, are calling upon countries to pay more attention to the crucial contribution of forests to sustainable development.
Members of the CPF are working to improve management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. Sustainably managed forests contribute directly to poverty reduction by providing jobs, incomes, and consumable goods for poor families.
“At a time when we are faced with environmental, social, and economic crises that are daunting; the CPF is working intensively together to further catalyze the positive contributions of forests, including the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, as is being celebrated in 2011, the International Year of Forests.” says Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat. “Forest services and benefits are multifaceted and wide-ranging, from the environmental contributions to the social and economic. Cross-sectoral and cross-institutional cooperation and a people-relevant approach is vital not only to management of forests but for advancing sustainable development around the world.”
“Further analysis is needed during the International Year of Forests, to emphasize the connection between people and forests, and the benefits that can accrue when forests are managed by local people in sustainable and innovative ways” says Eduardo Rojas-Briales Assistant Director-General of the FAO Forestry Department. “Together we must continue to pursue multiple pathways towards sustainable development using forests at all levels.”
Rojas called attention to the 2011 edition of FAO’s State of the World’s Forests, which provides an analysis of how forests support people’s livelihoods and the development of sustainable forest industries. According to the report, forest industries are improving resource efficiency and recycling efforts and are making progress in promoting wood products as more environmentally friendly than alternative materials. Moreover, State of the World’s Forests 2011 indicates that community-based and traditional knowledge forest management approaches can help communities harvest and sell non-wood forest products to create more sustainable livelihoods.
The relevance of traditional forest-related knowledge and practices to global efforts to advance sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation, adaptation to environmental change, and livelihood security is highlighted by a 6-year global study that has recently been completed by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization noted that “Already in many tropical countries, sustainably managed forests and the products that arise from them are contributing to sustainable development at both the national and especially at the community level. But since sustainably managed forests still make up less than 10% of the total global tropical forest area, they clearly have the potential to play a much bigger role.”
A successful example of sustainable forest management can been seen in Guinea, where the Landscape Management for Improved Livelihoods (LAMIL) project by the World Agroforestry Centre and the Centre for International Forestry Research has had a profound influence on the sustainability of four large forest areas. Prior to the project, local people were forbidden from using the forest resources and illegal logging, poaching and land clearance were leading to forest loss. The LAMIL project developed a system of co-management involving local communities and government where the local people derive real benefits from the forests, and in return have shown their willingness and ability to manage them sustainably.
“The project illustrates how changes in how forests are governed can lead to win-win outcomes for forests and people,” commented Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research. “This project has done much to improve the welfare of the local people,” said Dennis Garrity Director General of the World Agroforestry Center. “It has also shown that sustainable forest management and improved livelihoods are inextricably linked.”
“Forests, soils and water are a trilogy that are not stand-alone, self-sustaining resources” says Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. “To foster a holistic approach to the management of these environmental resources, we must attend to three things. First, we need to focus on the causes, not the symptoms of deforestation. Second, we also need to focus on the soil, which is the real source of life for the land. Third, the communities that maintain the ecosystems we depend upon need to be rewarded.”
At the recent United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) meeting in February, ministers and high officials agreed on a Ministerial Declaration which stresses that “forests are an integral part of the global environment and human well-being, providing multiple goods and services essential for people worldwide and crucial for sustainable development and the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.” The UNFF Ministerial Declaration contains the most important global forest policy issues and concerns as the concrete input on forests to the upcomingRio+20 conference. Rio+20 (June 2012), marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development, agreed upon at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The conference will review progress made towards sustainable development and map out future strategies to address sustainable development and environmental challenges.
For more information:
Gerda Wolfrum, wolfrum(at)iufro.org, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
Vienna/Vantaa – “It is not commonly understood how much – even in our hypermodern urban age – human health and well-being are influenced by forests and trees”, said Professor Hannu Raitio, coordinator of the IUFRO Task Force on Forests and Human Health of the Vienna-based International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and Director General of the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla in Vantaa, prior to World Health Day on 7 April. Research shows that there is a huge untapped economic and health potential in forest biodiversity. “Preserving biodiversity attains an autonomous value – independent of any uses known at the present time”, said Professor Raitio.
Loss of species and decrease in biodiversity always imply a potential loss of health-related ecosystem services and genetic resources. The conservation of the earth’s biological diversity, of which a large part is found in forests, is increasingly recognized as an important goal. Preserving biodiversity is rational also from an economic point of view. As noted in FAO’s State of the World’s Forests 2011, many top-selling herbal products such as goji and echinacea are derived from forests, and the collection and trade of raw materials continues to significantly affect forest economies. Probably more than half of the most prescribed medicines – also in the Western pharmacopoeia – are based on chemical compounds found in natural organisms. “Even if the drug is produced synthetically, it is often first found in nature, or it may be a modification of some naturally occurring compound. We start to realize that every organism is a potent bioreactor with unique capabilities”, stated Professor Raitio.
Medical treasures waiting to be discovered
Currently only less than one per cent of all known plants are thoroughly analyzed for pharmaceuticals and with microbes, fungi and animals the percentage is even smaller. Only a small fraction of all existing species of organisms have been discovered and described so far. Moreover, all higher plants are hosts to one or more endophytic microbes, organisms residing in tissues between or among living plant cells. Of the estimated 500,000 plant species living on the planet, only a handful has had their endophytic microflora thoroughly studied.
“There are medical treasures waiting to be discovered in forest plants literally everywhere. For example, we recently began a study on the microflora of the root system of the common Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris“, informed Professor Raitio: “We wanted to see what kind of chemical substances can be found in the microscopic fungi that are living symbiotically with the tree, and test them against the age-related eye disease (AREDS), which is a major cause of vision loss in people of advanced age all over the world. We thought that in a few years we may find a substance that could be of potential use, but only after a few months of research we already had our first candidate. We are now cooperating with medical doctors to develop a medicine of it.”
Traditional medicine also greatly relies on forest resources, for example in the treatment of malaria. Most of the hundreds of millions of cases of malaria each year are in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the second highest cause of death from infectious disease. Poor communities have limited access to modern drugs, with the majority relying on traditional medicine in treating malaria. The World Agroforestry Centre recently published a guide entitled ‘Common Antimalarial Trees and Shrubs of East Africa’, which describes 22 species of trees and shrubs that are used as antimalarial treatments in East Africa by traditional medical practitioners and rural communities. “These species have great potential for further study and development as readily available alternative treatments for the curse of malaria,” said Najma Dharani, the main author of the book.
Sustainable management of forests to be key
Forests support the livelihoods of millions of people by providing food, water, fuel, protection against natural hazards etc., and offer a range of health-related goods and services, from medicinal compounds to the support of our psychological capacity and mental health. The key to preserve these ecosystem services is sustainable forest management (SFM), aiming at a balance between society’s increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity. This balance is critical to the survival of forests and the health of people depending on forests. “These people do not only include the forest-dwelling native tribes in various corners of the world, but every one of us, wherever we live, and whatever is our industrial or economic level. This is the most important message for us all on the World Health Day and in the United Nation’s International Year of Forests 2011“, said Professor Raitio.
The international group of scientists of the interdisciplinary IUFRO Task Force recently suggested taking into account human health aspects in all forest management activities systematically. This could be done through applying the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a program which is promoted actively by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is to date mainly being used in urban planning, to forest-related issues. For this purpose, a set of forest-related human health indicators could be developed and included in public health reports in a similar way as they are often included in reports on water, energy, mining, biodiversity and agriculture.
For more information:
Gerda Wolfrum, wolfrum(at)iufro.org, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
IUFRO Task Force on Forests and Human Health
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is a voluntary arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programs on forests. The CPF’s mission is to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forest and strengthen long term political commitment to this end.
– Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
– International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
– International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
– Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD Secretariat)
– Global Environment Facility (GEF Secretariat)
– United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD Secretariat)
– United Nations Forum on Forest (UNFF Secretariat)
– United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC Secretariat)
– United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
– United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
– World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
– World Bank (World Bank)
– The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
25 political scientists met in Vienna last week to start drafting the most comprehensive scientific report on the international forest regime. The report will be officially published in January 2011 on the occasion of the 9th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.
More specifically, the assessment aims to contribute to
- the international forest deliberations and international forest-related processes such as the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (January 2011), the tenth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (October 2010), and the discussion on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD);
- the improvement of coordination among political actors, policy instruments and institutions;
- the International Year of Forests 2011 by raising awareness about the role of international instruments and institutions affecting forests.
PHOTOS FROM THE FIRST MEETING
Learning Event – Organized by IUFRO and EFI (European Forest Institute) During Forest Day 3 in Copenhagen (UNFCCC-COP15)
Boreal and temperate forests are likely to be particularly affected by climate change because they are generally temperature-limited. With climate change advancing, their role as a major sink for atmospheric carbon is at risk. This session informed participants about this and other key impacts and vulnerabilities and discussed adaptation priorities and implications for forest management. The learning session also explored how lessons from the EU programme Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) could be used for forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation.
A side event organized during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15)
This joint event organized by IUFRO, ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) and Intercooperation (Swiss Foundation for Development and International Cooperation) will address the ongoing and new activities to promote social, economic and environmental benefits of forests that contribute to sustainable livelihoods in the framework of climate change mitigation, adaptation and ecosystem restoration.
Introduction to the side event (Mr. Alexander Buck, IUFRO Deputy Executive Director)
International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
ITTO Thematic Programme on REDDES (Mr. Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of ITTO)
Voluntary Forest Carbon Offset Projects in Japan (Mr. Noriuki Kobayashi, Professor of Nihon University Law School, Japan)
Public-Private Partnership to promote REDD+ in Meru Betiri National Park, Indonesia (Ms. Nur Masripatin, Director of FORDA, MoF, Indonesia)
Making REDD Happen in Reality – Experiences from the REDD-FORECA Pilot Project in Madagascar (Ms. Julia Randimbisoa – Climate change focal point in Madagascar)
International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
Will Forests Be Able to Stand the Heat? Main results of a global assessment (Mr. Peter Mayer, IUFRO Executive Director)
Making African Forests Fit for Climate Change – Key messages to policy and decision makers (Mr. Stephy David Makungwa, Chair of thematic group “Forests and Climate Change” of the Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa)
The celebration of 60 years of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, IUFRO, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, took place in conjunction with the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
There has been long history of collaboration between IUFRO and FAO, which started with the signing of the MOU in 1949. FAO started working with International NGO’s shortly after its creation in the mid-1940s and at that time, it was even considered to incorporate IUFRO into FAO in order to formulate research aims more clearly, to avoid duplication of research projects, and to reduce costs.
While this consideration was not put into practice, in 1949 IUFRO worked out an agreement with the Forestry Department of FAO whereby IUFRO retained its independent status, but had a specialized consultative status with FAO. To this day, FAO has observer status on IUFRO’s Board (representation usually is through its Assistant Director General, in 2009, Jan Heino).
FAO and IUFRO are both committed to collaborate in some of the projects and programs with among others, the theme of forest education, forest terminology, and the role of science in national forest programs. Many IUFRO activities have been supported and until now are being assisted by FAO. For instance, IUFRO’s Special Program for Developing Countries (IUFRO-SPDC) was jointly established by IUFRO and FAO in 1983 and has since then served as a mechanism for research capacity development. Through IUFRO-SPDC, IUFRO provides assistance for the long-term development of the capacities of individual scientists and research institutions in developing countries. Together they have focused on the Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa (FORNESSA).
During the last years, FAO and IUFRO have actively worked in the frame of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). IUFRO as the leading organization of the Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) and the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) highly appreciates the effort of FAO as chair organization of the CPF.
Please leave your comments on this article and to find out more information about IUFRO-FAO collaborations, we encourage you to visit IUFRO’s website.