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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Forest-related Traditional Knowledge
9. The Commission recommended that working groups consider incorporating traditional knowledge in their work program to the greatest extent possible (para. 85).
Matters to be Referred to the Attention of the Committee on Forestry
10. The Commission recommended that the following matters be brought to the attention of:
1. The nineteenth session of the North American Forest Commission (NAFC) was held in Villahermosa, Tabasco (Mexico) at the kind invitation of the Government of Mexico, from 16 to 20 November 1998. The session was attended by 28 participants from the three member countries of the Commission as well as the Chairman of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission and one observer representing the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Centro Agron6mico Tropical de Investigaci6n y Ensefianza (CATIE). The agenda of the session is given in Appendix A, the list of participants in Appendix B and the list of documents submitted for consideration by the Commission is Appendix C.
2. Mr. Victor Villalobos, Chairman of the Commission, welcomed participants to the session on behalf of the NAFC and Mr. M. Hosny El-Lakany, Assistant Director-General of the FAD Forestry Department, welcomed participants on behalf of the Director-General of FAO. Mr. El-Lakany thanked the Government of Mexico for hosting the session, recalled the purpose and objectives of the FAO regional forestry commissions and gave a brief account of the FAO forestry program. The Mayor of Villahermosa, Ms. Georgina Trujillo, addressed the session and the Governor of the State of Tabasco, Mr. Roberto Madrazo Pintado, formally opened the nineteenth session.
3. The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries, H.E. Julia Carabias Lillo, addressed the session on the third day on environmental issues in Mexico, including forestry.
4. The Commission approved the provisional agenda without change.
5. The following were appointed to the Drafting Committee:
STATE OF FORESTRY IN THE REGION (Item 2)
6. Following the Government of Canada's major review of programs and services a few years ago, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) implemented changes to streamline operations. In this regard, the CFS is continuing to play a leading role in responding to the challenges ahead by, amongst other activities, developing tools and methodologies to measure Canada's progress in sustainably managing its forests.
7. Canadians endorsed a new national forest strategy, covering the period 1998-2003. It builds on the 1992-1997 strategy's accomplishments and on the findings of two independent evaluations. National Forest Strategy 1998-2003: Sustainable Forests, a Canadian Commitment sets out 9 strategic directions, contains 31 objectives and identifies 121 commitments to action. As with the first strategy, the new one is the result of extensive consultations across Canada, involving the range of forest interests: Aboriginals, academics, environmentalists, industry, governments, labor, private woodlot owners, research organizations and others.
8. In response to federal legislation, NRCan developed and submitted a sustainable development strategy to Parliament. Entitled Sustainable Development Strategy: Safeguarding our
Assets, Securing our Future, the document summarizes key issues surrounding the sustainable development of natural resources; states goals and objectives; and puts forward an action plan for the next three years.
9. Similarly, after two years of consultations with staff, clients and stakeholders, the CFS published a document entitled Strategic Plan: Beyond the Millenium 1998-2003. It outlines the environmental context in which the CFS operates, identifies major challenges and outlines six broad directions.
10. Another major initiative the CFS is undertaking is the identification and assessment of its technological requirements and capabilities. To this end, it is spearheading an alliance among industry, universities, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal groups and non governmental organizations to use evolving communication technologies to exchange forestry data and knowledge.
11. A National Forest S&T Course of Action was tabled at the National Forest Congress in May 1998. It identifies a strategic agenda for the development and use of scientific and technical knowledge in the forest sector to help Canada meet its international commitments such as the implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The Course of Action has been incorporated into the national forest strategy and will guide Canada's forest science community in the coming years to meet emerging S&T challenges facing the sector.
12. With regard to criteria and indicators, implementation is underway of a national set of six criteria and eighty-three indicators that help define and measure sustainable forest management in the Canadian context. Reports describing Canada's ability to measure the forest values that Canadians want to sustain and enhance were recently published. In addition, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) approved a plan to collect data and information to report on a core set of 49 indicators in 2000.
13. In 1996, NRCan and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada launched the First Nation Forestry Program in partnership with First Nations. It has four objectives: enhance the capacity of First Nations to operate and participate in forest-based businesses; increase First Nations cooperation and partnership; investigate different mechanisms for financing First Nations forestry; and improve the capacity of First Nations to sustainably manage reserve forests.
14. Also, the CFS is continuing its active involvement in the international dialogue on forests taking place in the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests. In this regard, Canada and Costa Rica announced a joint initiative to consider possible elements and work toward building consensus on future international arrangements such as a legal instrument on forests. This initiative will provide a neutral forum to facilitate technical discussion on this topic.
15. During the last two years, public debate continued on the management of natural resources in the United States. There is widespread public support in the United States for a balanced approach to environmental, social and economic concerns about the management of forested lands. There continued to be honest differences of opinion about these issues, especially regarding timber harvesting and road building on national forest lands.
16. The Forest Service natural resource agenda for the 21st century focuses on four key areas:
Watershed health and restoration
Sustainable forest ecosystem management
17. Watersheds are vital to ecosystem health. They absorb rain and recharge underground aquifers and serve as habitat for thousands of species and dissipate floods across floodplains.
18. Healthy watersheds must be protected and degraded watersheds restored. The Forest Service will focus on: maintenance and restoration of watershed health as an overriding priority in land management planning; restoring desirable plant conditions through ecosystem restoration; preventing exotic organisms from entering or spreading in the United States; reconstructing, relocating and decommissioning roads to help restore degraded watersheds; restoring degraded riparian areas; conserving and recovering threatened and endangered species; completing assessments of watershed conditions; and helping communities restore and maintain healthy watersheds.
19. To keep US watersheds healthy and productive, their status and condition across all ownership's must be better understood. State and private owners manage more than two-thirds of the nation's forests. Sustainable forest management in the United States connects the health of the land to people and communities, taking advantage of what each forest owner can offer toward achieving sustainability.
20. The Forest Service will encourage all parties interested in resource management to collaborate in describing and measuring sustainable forest management. Actions will be taken to use the criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management (the Montreal Process) to report on the health of all forested landscapes in the United States by the year 2003. The Forest Service will link performance by Forest Service managers to the framework of sustainable forest management. It will also work with communities through community-based planning and stewardship on a watershed basis, build urban-rural links to address forest ecosystem health, and expand information, education and outreach efforts on sustainable forest management.
21. Forest roads are an integral part of many rural areas' transportation system. They help meet recreation demands on national forests and grasslands and provide economic opportunities by linking transportation systems. The benefits of forest roads are many, but so are the impacts.
22. The Forest Service's new policy on forest roads will more carefully consider decisions to build new roads; eliminate old unneeded roads; upgrade and maintain roads that are important to public access; and develop new and dependable funding for forest road management.
23. Forest Service managed lands provide more outdoor recreation opportunities than anywhere else in the United States. The Forest Service is committed to providing superior customer service and ensuring that the rapid growth of recreation on national forests does not compromise the long-term health of the land.
24. The recreation agenda will focus on four key areas: providing quality recreation settings and experience; focusing on customer service and satisfaction; reaching out to communities to develop recreation opportunities; and strengthening recreation partnerships, at the national, regional and local level.
25. In its presentation, Mexico highlighted the following main themes:
a) The central objectives of Mexico's forest policy is to further the sustainable use of its forests, which permits use and production in an integrated manner without endangering conservation.
b) This principle is maintained and reflected in the Forestry and Soils Program 1995-2000, which established strategies and line action accordingly.
c) Also mentioned were actions in natural forests, emphasizing that 1998 had been the worst fire season in 30 years. Diverse work was carried out in forest health and figures of deforestation were reported for the period 1974-1990.
d) PRODEFOR is a strategy to increase the use of the forests through subsidies to forest owners. Mexico is also involved in criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and the international model forest network. Also mentioned were figures for forest land area in Mexico and the preparation for a forestry inventory for the year 2000.
e) Actions were mentioned in the area of commercial plantations, emphasizing the goal to develop 875 thousand hectares of commercial plantations through subsidies in the next 25 years.
f) The creation of SEMARNAP in 1994 was mentioned, its organization and budgets. A variety of diverse research institutions carry out forestry research in Mexico.
g) With respect to economic aspects of forestry, figures were given for forests currently under commercial production, total commercial production potential, as well as forestry industries established. Also mentioned were the important but often intangible benefits of the environment, along with protection of wildlife and the development of ecotourism.
h) Mexico has national and state Consultative Councils which serve as consultant bodies for Mexican society and the follow-up of the programs of SEMARNAP.
i) In 1998, El Nino has been a meteorological factor that has contributed to the risk of fires and hurricanes in Mexico.
j) International cooperation includes collaboration with diverse countries throughout the region, as well as interactions with international organizations, and support by FAO of various events.
26. The report of the Bureau of Alternates (BOA) highlighted activities over the last two years, including its three inter-sessional meetings and the support it provided to working groups during the course of their work.
27. With regard to the inter-sessional meetings, members used the opportunity to share information on such items as:
28. The BOA also conducted a review of progress in implementing its medium-term agenda, entitled A Strategic Look Ahead, adopted at the eighteenth session. It also examined the proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and urged working groups to address items relevant to their mandates.
29. As a result of improvements to the NAFC home page on FAO's Forestry Internet, information is now readily available worldwide on a range of activities. Additions include the capability to hyperlink with web sites as these are established by individual working groups. The BOA welcomed the USDA Forest Service's initiative of establishing a regional NAFC home page and noted the need to harmonize and coordinate efforts with the FAD Forestry home page.
30. working groups provided reports to the BOA on their activities, noting achievements and identifying areas where assistance would be appreciated. In response to the latter, the BOA financially supported the participation of specialists at workshops, the publication of proceedings and the attendance of resource people at international meetings.
31. One of the main tasks the BOA will undertake in the coming year is a review of the mandates, objectives and activities of each working group with a view to making recommendations on future work on current and emerging issues such as watershed restoration, urban forestry and recreation. An analysis will also be made on how best to improve communications among working groups and address cross-cutting issues. To assist with this exercise, the BOA, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Commission, will establish a task force to prepare a report for its consideration.
FAO FORESTRY ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST TO THE REGION, INCLUDING FOLLOW-UP TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EIGHTEENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION (Item 4)
32. The Secretariat presented FAO activities of interest to the region, including follow-up to the recommendations of the Commission.
33. The Secretariat, in presenting FAO's strategic plan for forestry, recalled the participatory process it adopted during its formulation and described recent revisions. This entailed adding three new goals and eight new strategic directions. The document will be submitted as part of the FAO Strategic Framework to the FAO Council in November 1998 and COFO in March 1999.
34. The Commission commended the FAO Forestry Department for its efforts in developing its strategic plan for forestry and its emphasis on emerging issues such as forest values other than wood products (e.g. water). The Commission also noted the need for the FAO strategic plan for forestry to recognize the linkages between forest fires and unsustainable agriculture as well as other cross-sectoral linkages relative to sustainable development.
35. In response to implementation aspects raised by the Commission, the Secretariat indicated that the budget for the Forestry Department was expected to remain at its present level and that, in future, resources would be used in a more focused and efficient way as a result of new forestry goals and strategies.
REVIEW OF working GROUP ACTIVITIES (Item 6)
36. The report of the 1995 Workshop on Genetic Forest Resources was published. This report represents a valuable contribution which involves different topics on the genetic conservation, genetic variation, establishment and management of seed sources and germo-plasms storage.
37. The World Directory of Forest Geneticists and Tree Breeders is being updated in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture and IUFRO. The group also launched and coordinated genetic surveys of several Mexican conifers such as Picea chiuahuana, Picea martinezii, Picea mexicana, Pinus ayacahuite and Pinus maximartinezii.
38. A proposal on "Conservation of Mexican Pinon Pine Genes, Species and Ecosystems" in light of climate change was prepared and submitted for funding.
39. The group held its last meeting from 8 to 10 December 1997 in Merida, Yucatan (Mexico). The next meeting is scheduled for March 1999 in Merida, in coordination with the Silviculture working Group.
40. The Commission noted common activities with other working groups, in particular the Silviculture working Group and encouraged the development of more activities in collaboration.
41. The Commission recommended that the working group identify forest genetic activities that could be used to support the processes of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management.
42. The Commission welcomed the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) support of new collaborative research in the genetics of mahogany and cedar between the Forest Research Institute of Mexico (INIFAP), the International Institute of Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) regional offices in Mexico, the Centro Agron6mico Tropical de Investigaci6n y Ensefianza (CATIE) and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico.
43. Fire activity in 1997 in Canada and Mexico was very low while that in the United States was normal. There were four fire-related fatalities in the US. In Canada, the Canadian Committee on Forest Fire Management was reorganized as an S&T Working Group under the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. In the United States, a new Federal Wildland Fire Policy was developed and five federal fire agencies are now funded through one budget appropriation.
44. Fire activity in 1998 in the United States was about normal except for an extreme situation in Florida. Canada and Mexico reported all-time record expenditures and resource use. Tragically, there were 14 fire-related fatalities in the US and 70 in Mexico. The US provided substantial technical assistance and financial aid to Mexico during its worst fire season in this century. A CL-415 from Quebec saved the lives of 70 fire fighters that had been trapped by fire.
45. A three-year joint US/Mexico fire training program has been established, the development of North American criteria and indicators for wildland fire has begun, a US/Mexico cross-border mutual-aid agreement will be signed, and an agreement to protect emergency frequencies will be signed.
46. Mexico and the United States have entered into a cooperative program on training and technical assistance for the next three years. With funding from the US Agency for International Development the program emphasizes training in several topics, including restoration of burned areas.
47. The Ministry of Agriculture of Mexico, together with SEMARNAP, will host in 1999 an international meeting in Mexico on the causes of fires in agriculture and their contribution to forest fires.
48. The Commission recognized the level of cooperation and support amongst the three member countries during the difficult fire season in Mexico. It commended the working group for its work on criteria and indicators, securing funds and recommended it share its information with other working groups. The Commission also noted Canada's interest in supporting the establishment of a forest fire prediction system in Mexico.
49. An exotic pest information system (EPIS), begun three years ago to provide a comprehensive list of non-native insects and diseases for North America that are of regulatory concern, was released on November 12 1998.
50. A pitch canker risk assessment was completed in 1998 in response to concerns about the loss of Monterey pine in California and the potential for spread in North America.
51. The working group provides technical advice to the Forest Panel of the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO). Group members were instrumental in the development of dunnage standards to reduce the threat of non-native insects and disease to North American Forests.
52. Forest Pathology in Mexico, the companion book to Forest Insects of Mexico is nearing completion. The final funding need is US$10,000. Anew book entitled Mistletoes of North American Conifers is well underway, with an expected publication date in late 1999. Funding needed for this publication is US$60-80,000.
53. Technical exchanges included a risk assessment on Radiata pine logs imports from Mexico and aerial survey assistance to Mexico. Future assistance to Mexico to address forest decline in the monarch butterfly habitat will be provided in 1999.
54. The working group provided resolutions to the NAFC regarding: appreciation to NAPPO Forest Panel for pursuing the dunnage standards; concerns for the increased threat to North American forests by the Asian long-homed beetle and other wood boring insects; concerns that aggressive action to reduce the spread of European and Asian gypsy moth strains be continued and enhanced; and concerns about the decline of entomology and pathology capabilities throughout North America.
55. The Commission noted the working group's intention to work closely with working groups dealing with fire management and atmospheric changes.
56. The Commission also noted the USDA Forest Service's publication of forest ecosystem health issues, intended to inform the general public and encouraged the working group to consider working on a similar document for North America.
57. The Commission also recommended that the working group conduct a survey of capacity in bio systematics in high priority countries.
58. In 1997, the group held meetings in Merida (Yucatan) and Veracruz (Veracruz) to discuss pests and diseases and the impact of tropical forest production on the environment.
59. The group finalized the last three monographs (Eucalyptus grandis, Cedrela odorata, Cecropia peltata), completing the first volume on the useful trees of tropical North America.
60. The production of a manual on tropical tree seeds is continuing and will include information on 160 native and naturalized species.
61. A workshop on forest biology will be organized in the year 2000 in Merida, Yucatan, in conjunction with the forest genetic working group and the Society of American Foresters.
62. The Commission recommended closer collaboration with the Latin America and Caribbean Forestry Commission on issues of common interest and that FAO facilitate the exchange of information between the two commissions.
63. The Commission also recommended that a working of burnt-over area be launched with a view to increase the knowledge on the physiological and ecological succession of species.
64. The Commission noted the offer of the representative from CATIE to participate with INIFAP in the international meeting on Low Tree Dry Tropical Forests.
65. Due to membership turnover and other factors, the group had not been able to meet on a regular basis. The Commission noted the importance of continuing activities in this area and decided to add new members to the group. It urged the group to name a chairperson as soon as possible and develop a new program of work for submission to the BOA.
66. Due to financial constraints, the group has been unable to meet regularly. Since its last session, in 1994, changes have occurred in the conservation scene in North America as a result of activities related to such initiatives as the Convention on Biodiversity, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the establishment of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and the inclusion of Mexico in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP).
67. The group published a catalogue of shared migratory species between the three countries and initiated migratory bird research projects.
68. The group proposes to:
69. The Commission commended the working group for its work and noted the potential for partnership with many external organizations, particularly non-governmental organizations associated with bird and waterfowl conservation in the three member countries.
70. The working group requested the guidance of the Bureau of Alternates for its future work, in particular with regard to conservation strategies in the region.
71. As recommended at the 18th session of the NAFC in 1996, the working group expanded its membership to include a wider range of technical expertise, in particular with regard to non-wood forest products. The Commission recommended that the working group continue to exchange information and explore the implementation of joint activities with the FAO Forestry Department's Non-Wood Forest Product Program.
72. A workshop was held in Merida in June 1998 in conjunction with the Forest Product Society. Perspectives were presented in the areas of wood product standards, fiber supply, non wood forest products and forest certification.
73. The working group will link with the NAFC home pages and other sites to disseminate its information.
TECHNICAL ITEMS (Item 7)
74. This report presents an independent review of various sets of criteria and indicators of sustainable forestry. The review was conducted under the auspices of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) by the USDA Forest Service Institute for Monitoring and Inventory. The test, sponsored by the Boise National Forest, was conducted in southwest, Idaho, USA. The focus of the test was to review the applicability of criteria and indicators at the forest management unit level.
75. The sets of criteria and indicators selected for evaluation during the North American test included:
76. The group tested 207 indicators in detail and scanned another 200. Seventy-one of the original 207 criteria and indicators tested were accepted, or accepted with revision. Sixty-five of the 207 were rejected because they were conceptually weak, impossible to use operationally, or irrelevant to the North American context. Five new indicators were proposed, of which three were in the areas of conserving genetic diversity and two in economics.
77. The application of criteria and indicators is still in the development phase and there remain considerable difficulties to their use. Some indicators are well developed while others are weak. There were also difficulties integrating indicators across disciplines, despite the best efforts of the team to work in an interdisciplinary manner. Although the basic theory of sustainability that crosses sectoral lines is still lacking, criteria and indicators have developed to the point where they can be applied at the forest management unit level.
78. The Commission, while commending the progress on criteria and indicators, suggested further field tests to ascertain their reliability and the cost of gathering data. In this regard, it noted Mexico's interest in conducting a field test at the Chihuahua model forest.
79. The Commission noted the efforts of the USDA Forest Service to use the extensive research and analysis on criteria and indicators processes as a basis for establishing land-based performance standards for forest managers.
80. Indigenous people and local communities have been working with a knowledge base that has enabled them to live and prosper in the forest in a sustainable manner for thousands of years. Traditional knowledge is a way of life, a way of relating to Creation, rather than simply being an accumulated set of knowledge about the environment. It is an important tool of the past and holds the key to resolving problems of the present and future.
81. Until recently, traditional knowledge has received little attention from governments, industry and scientists. Increasingly, its potential to contribute to improving sustainable forest management is recognized and international discussions are highlighting the need to resolve complex issues such as those related to access, land tenure and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of traditional knowledge.
82. In Mexico, there are some sixty ethnic groups, each with a history and reservoir of knowledge still unknown to many. Because of rapid changes taking place, mainly the elderly hold traditional knowledge and this capacity is declining. Some examples of traditional lifestyles are found in the way the Seris, the desert people, live along the coast of Sonora; the way the Mayas in Meso-America integrated resource management of tropical ecosystems, and the way the Purepechas, in the state of Michoacan, support a large population using resources tied to lakes, forests and land.
83. In the United States, the contribution of traditional knowledge to sustainable forest management has increased since the USDA Forest Service initiated joint activities with native tribes. A case working of the Hopi Tribe demonstrates the application of this unique relationship with nature in collaborative projects with the Forest Service and other federal agencies. Given that reciprocity is a principal social concept for the Hopi, as it is with many American Indian tribes, the Hopi have accepted many scientific notions and technical land management strategies, implementing them on their lands on reservations. Likewise, the Hopi's view of the world as being spiritually and physically intertwined, with the past still living and the future connected to the present are important considerations when making decisions on the stewardship of ecosystems.
84. In Canada, many forest regions that, today, are assumed to be untouched wilderness were actually fully inhabited landscapes. In recent years, the value of traditional knowledge is increasingly recognized in a variety of contexts, including the National Forest Strategy (1998-2003). The role of Aboriginal traditional knowledge has also been supported in recent legal and jurisdictional developments of importance to forest management. For example, a landmark ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw case, in December 1997, recognized that the Aboriginal perspective on land and traditional Aboriginal laws governing land use are relevant in establishing occupation for proving Aboriginal title where such title has never been extinguished. 85. The Commission recommended that working groups consider incorporating traditional knowledge in their work program to the greatest extent possible.
86. Forest inventory and monitoring is critical to maintaining the sustainability of forest conditions and assessing the effects of policies and management practices. Only by measuring and monitoring over time can the impacts of actions be tracked and behavior adapted accordingly.
87. All three NAFC countries are now revising their forest inventory and monitoring systems. There is a significant opportunity to collaborate and share information on approaches, interests and methods; to learn from each others' experience; and to expand partnerships to make better use of available resources. There is also an opportunity to adopt common approaches at some level in order to create as much consistency as is reasonable across all three countries to support assessments which span national boundaries.
88. In addition, many NAFC working groups deal with inventory and monitoring-related issues, such as monitoring forest fire occurrence, insect and disease status, forest health, atmospheric change, and migratory species. All working groups would benefit from some integrated consideration of inventory and monitoring issues.
89. The Commission supported, in principle, the establishment of a working group on forest inventory and monitoring and invited the participants of the Salt Lake City workshop to submit a proposal to the BOA for consideration.
90. The Commission recommended that the following matters be brought to the attention of COFO:
that FAO recognize the critical role forests play in achieving its goals
and give added importance to the forestry component in its strategic
91. The Commission supported Canada's bid to FAO to host the next World Forestry Congress in 2003.
92. The Commission supported the invitation of FAO to report on the status and progress of national forest programs (nfps) at the next session of the Inter-governmental Forum on Forests in May 1999 and each member country agreed to provide FAO with information in this regard
a) Election of Officers
93. The following officers were confirmed by the Commission to hold office during the forthcoming biennium:
Chairperson: Yvan Hardy (Canada)
First Vice-Chairperson: Michael Dombeck (USA)
Second Vice-Chairperson: Victor Villalobos (Mexico)
94. The Commission designated Gordon Miller as Chairperson of the Bureau of Alternates.
b) Date and Place of Next Meeting
95. Canada invited the Commission to hold its next session in central or eastern Canada, in the fall of the year 2000. The Commission thanked Canada for its kind invitation.
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