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USDA Forest Service Attends Seventh World Wilderness Congress

USDA Forest Service Assists Afghan Relief Operation
In Central Asia, millions of Afghan refugees and displaced persons faced the harsh winter season in near famine conditions. The USDA Forest Service helped other government and non-governmental organizations in the region with humanitarian relief efforts by coordinating logistics both in Central Asia and Washington, DC. Specifically, USDA Forest Service officers ensured the safe and efficient delivery of supplies, including food, shelter material, blankets, and other relief commodities. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the USDA Forest Service deployed 5 logistics and field officers to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan for a total of 41 person-weeks in 2001. This work was accomplished through the USDA Forest Service's International Programs' Disaster Assistance Support Program.

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Madagascar: Moving Forestry Forward
In early April 2001, the USDA Forest Service conducted an exploratory mission to the biodiversity-rich nation of Madagascar. During their visit, representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development/Madagascar and its partners outlined priorities to help Madagascar move forward with its conservation, community, and economic development initiatives. One of the priorities was to assess the means to better manage the nation's forest areas-taking into account agricultural, population, and industrial pressures. Such an approach would not only consider forest corridors important for biodiversity conservation, but also concentrate on pine and eucalyptus plantations and natural forest stands surrounding some of these corridors.

Three months later, the USDA Forest Service sent a follow-up interdisciplinary team, including John Townsley and Peter Gaulke, to Madagascar to address whether management of these plantations and natural forest stands can help alleviate pressure on protected forest areas while maintaining watershed health. The team's work will provide forest, plantation, and watershed management strategies for the region, helping in-country partners assess what is happening in the forests and surrounding areas. Working directly with the Agency for International Development's partners, the USDA Forest Service team aims to develop forest management plans as well as action plans to help Madagascar better manage its forests and conserve some of the world's unique and valuable wildlife and natural resources.

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International Bicknell's Thrush Partnership
Bicknell's thrush is one of the least-known breeding birds in North America. In the summer, it occupies a very restricted and highly fragmented breeding range in areas of Quebec, Canada, New York State's Catskill Mountains; Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest; New Hampshire's White Mountains; and two small sections of Maine. During the winter months, it inhabits an even more limited range in eastern Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Bicknell's thrush only number around 50,000 worldwide and are considered by the Partners-In-Flight Conservation Plan Management to be of extremely high priority for conservation action. Yet, thrush homes are becoming increasingly threatened due to poor forestry practices and human expansion.

In July 2001, International Programs sponsored an exchange between Bicknell's thrush experts from the Green Mountain National Forest, the Dominican Republic, and the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. At the meeting, stakeholders formed a new partnership dedicated to conducting fieldwork to study and conserve thrush habitats emphasizing protected area management, forest management practices, and bird population monitoring.

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USDA Forest Service Attends Seventh World Wilderness Congress
Wilderness experts and other members of a USDA Forest Service delegation headed up by Elizabeth Estill, Deputy Chief, Programs and Legislation, attended the 7th World Wilderness Congress in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in November 2001. The congress focused on wildlands and the dependent human and wildlife communities. The congress pursued several related topics, including private and public sector wilderness, sustainable tourism, and science and management in wildlands conservation.

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