Minutes of the Fifth Meeting of the FAO Advisory Group on Global Forest Resource Assessments Rome, 17-18 January 2006 1. Introduction The FAO Advisory Group (AG) on Global Forest Resources Assessments was established in October 2002 on the recommendation of the expert consultation held in Kotka, Finland in July 2002. (See www.fao.org/forestry/fra-Kotka4 for details.) It was endorsed by the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) held in March 2003. The Advisory Group is a long-term arrangement with meetings anticipated to take place annually. Members of the Advisory Group serve in their personal capacity, although an effort is made to ensure representation of important forestry institutions and all regions. The main tasks of the Group are to review and make recommendations aimed at strengthening existing institutional networks and to make future forest resources assessments increasingly user- oriented and demand-driven and more closely linked with other international processes. 2. Attendance at the fifth meeting AG members Present Absent Carlos Bahamondez Steve Johnson Paul Drichi Timo Karjalainen Souleymane Gueye Maxim Lobovikov Rodney Keenan Adrian Newton Alexander Korotkov Jinhua Zhang Roman Michalak Ewald Rametsteiner Jagdish Kumar Rawat Ralph Ridder Harry Santoso Brad Smith Tomas Thuresson Gulusa Vildanova FAO staff and consultants present Peter Holmgren, Chief, Forest Resources Development Service Mette Løyche Wilkie (AG Secretary) Anne Branthomme Monica Garzuglia Kailash Govil Sebueng Kelatwang Lars Gunnar Marklund Hivy Ortiz Mohamed Saket In addition the following participated as observers to this meeting: Andrey Filipchuk (National Correspondent of Russia to FRA 2005) and Lars Laestadius (Team-Leader, Forest Landscapes Initiative, World Resources Institute). 3. Meeting Objectives The meeting had following two main objectives: To review the process and outcomes of FRA 2005 To provide guidance on post FRA 2005 activities (Evaluation, Kotka V Expert Consultation and FRA 2010) 4. Agenda and Agenda notes 4.1 Agenda item 1: Opening of the meeting and election of co-chairperson The opening of the meeting was chaired by Rodney Keenan (Chair of the last meeting), who, on behalf of the AG thanked the FRA Team for working so closely with countries to prepare the Key Findings of FRA 2005. Peter Holmgren welcomed the AG members and observers to the fifth meeting of the AG on behalf of FAO and inaugurated the meeting. Mette Wilkie thanked the AG members and their organisations for their support in the past year – including financial support from USA, Australia, ITTO and INBAR, secondments from the USA and Australia, help with organising workshops and thematic studies and technical assistance to selected countries. Paul Drichi then took over as the chairperson of the fifth meeting, having been elected Co- Chair at the last meeting. Brad Smith was elected Co-Chair of this meeting. He informed the AG that he will be replaced by Mr. Greg Reams, the National Project Leader of the Forest Inventory and Analysis programme of the USDA Forest Service in future meetings of the AG. Mr. Reams, in absentia, was elected to serve as chair of the sixth meeting of the AG. 4.2 Agenda item 2: Review of meeting objectives and adoption of the agenda The AG members reviewed the meeting objectives and adopted the agenda without modification. 4.3 Agenda item 3. Review of matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting Mette Wilkie introduced this item and regretted that, by oversight, the minutes of the last (fourth) meeting of the AG failed to mention that Paul Drichi was elected as Co-Chair. She further noted that in line with recommendations made at the previous meeting the following actions had been undertaken: Work has begun to implement the recommendation to undertake a detailed evaluation of the FRA 2005 reporting process and the variables included. This would be discussed later under a separate agenda item. Steps had been taken to increase links with other reporting processes and initiatives and would be reported in detail under agenda item 5. A self-standing policy brief for FRA 2005 had been prepared (the Key Findings) and distributed in six languages Discussions had been held regarding a forthcoming Expert Consultation (Kotka V) to design FRA 2010 (More details under agenda item 10.) The minutes were approved with a modification to mention that Mr. Paul Drichi was elected as co-chair of the fourth AG meeting. 4.4 Agenda item 4. Presentation and discussion of the key findings of FRA 2005 Mette Wilkie presented the key findings of FRA 2005 (summarised below) to the AG group and expressed her sincere thanks to all the members of the AG, national correspondents, associated institutions and agencies for their efforts and valuable contributions to FRA 2005. She also informed the AG that all the country reports and the associated global tables had been released simultaneously with the Key Findings on 14 November 2005 and are available on the FAO website (www.fao.org/forestry/fra2005). Forests cover 30 percent of the total land area Total forest area continues to decrease – but the rate of net loss is slowing down Primary forests currently account for about 36 percent of the total forest arae Plantation forests are increasing but still account for less than 5 percent of total forest area There is a wide variation in number of native tree species: from 3 in Iceland to 7 780 in Brazil Forests continue to be a significant carbon sink 84 percent of the world’s forests are publicly owned, but private ownership is on the rise Forests are increasingly being managed for a multitude of uses and values One-third of the world’s forests are primarily used for production of wood and non- wood forest products 11 percent of the forests are designated primarily for conservation of biological diversity More than 9 percent of forests are exclusively designated for soil and water conservation Use of forests for recreation and education is increasing About 10 million people are engaged in forest conservation and management The value of wood removals is decreasing in real terms The value of NWFPs is increasing but is currently underestimated The AG members congratulated the FRA team for having successfully carried out the FRA 2005 process within the established timeframe. A short discussion followed where the FRA team responded to queries made by the AG members. Monica Garzuglia concluded this agenda item with a brief presentation of a working paper under preparation that explains the major differences between FRA 2005 and FRA 2000 with respect to forest area and forest area change. Mette Wilkie then briefed the AG members on the synthesis chapter in the FRA 2005 report which integrates country information along six thematic areas and attempts to analyse progress towards sustainable forest management at global, regional and sub-regional levels using the below selected variables: Thematic element FRA 2005 variables or derivatives used in Synthesis report Area of forest Extent of forest Area of other wooded land resources Growing stock of forests Carbon stock per hectare in forest biomass Area of primary forest Area of forest designated primarily for conservation of Biological diversity biodiversity Total forest area excluding area of productive plantation forests Area of forest affected by fire Forest health and vitality Area of forest affected by insects, disease and other disturbances Area of forest designated primarily for production Area of productive plantation forests Productive functions of Commercial growing stock forest resources Total wood removals Total NWFP removals Protective functions of Area of forest designated primarily for protection forest resources Area of protective plantation forests Value of total wood removals Value of total NWFP removals Socio-economic Total employment functions Area of forest under private ownership Area of forest designated primarily for social services Peter Holmgren explained the methodology applied for the synthesis assessment. He also presented two graphs to demonstrate that alternative ways of weighting the data provide different perspectives (e.g. forest area and poverty) which in turn may lead to different policy interventions. The AG members congratulated the FRA Team for this innovative analysis, which provided added value to the FRA 2005 results. They expressed a wish to simplify the presentation related to the weighting of data. This recommendation would be taken into account when finalising the report. 4.5 Agenda item 5. Dissemination of FRA 2005 results Key Findings and the FRA Website Mette Wilkie informed the AG members that the Key Findings were released on November 14, 2005 at a press conference held at FAO HQ in Rome and that, simultaneously, press releases with a regional focus were issued through FAO’s regional offices and UNECE. The response to the release of the key findings of FRA 2005 was, in general, excellent and the press releases were widely picked up, ensuring a much better dissemination than originally anticipated. Furthermore, the timing of the release coincided with the meetings of the two main governing bodies of FAO (the FAO Council and the FAO Conference) which facilitated the dissemination of the results to FAO member governments. Sebueng Kelatwang complemented the above by informing the AG members that almost all the key international and national news agencies covered the release of the key findings and that more than 200 responses were recorded from all over the world within the first 2 days of the release. Alexander Korotkov informed the AG that the UNECE release of the key findings was implemented through news agencies, the UNECE web site and an issue of the Timber Branch Newsletter (www.unece.org/trade/timber - Issue number 9, October – December 2005). The press release at the UNECE website has been visited about 1500 times and the Timber Branch publication about 6000 times. The FRA 2005 Website (www.fao.org/forestry/fra2005) with the key findings, press releases, global tables, country tables and all the country reports was made accessible to the general public at the time of the release of the key findings. Lars Gunnar Marklund gave a brief presentation of the Website to the AG members. The FRA 2005 main report Peter Holmgren informed the AG members that the FRA 2005 main report will be published as part of the Forestry Paper series of FAO with the subtitle: Progress towards sustainable forest management. The main report is scheduled to be released in February 2006 during the UNFF-6 session in New York. The main report was prepared by a team of FAO staff and consultants and was reviewed internally (Service Chiefs and above plus all senior regional forestry officers) before finalisation. AG members suggested that the draft report should have been provided to them and NCs for review before publication. There was a general consensus that although an external review of the main report would have been desirable, it was not feasible this time due to the time constraints. An external review of the main report by AG members and/or representatives of major forest countries should however be considered for the future. Comments from AG members during the present meeting would be taken into account when finalising the report. Regional Forestry Commissions Mette Wilkie informed the AG members that FRA 2005 results will also be presented in the Regional Forestry Commission meetings which are all to be held during the first half of 2006 (except for the North American Forestry Commission due in October 2006). The feedback from these meetings will be considered by the next Expert Consultation (Kotka V). In addition, FRA 2005 results will also be disseminated through articles in FAO Unasylva and international journals. Thematic Reports She then informed the AG on the progress of the seven thematic reports that will complement the FRA 2005 main report. All reports are expected to meet their scheduled delivery targets. Thematic Report Progress made as of January 15, 2006 Bamboo First draft is ready Forest and Water First draft is ready Forest Fire Draft is under final editing Forest Ownership Draft is under final editing Forest Pests Under compilation Mangroves First draft is ready Planted Forests Under compilation FRA 2005 and other reporting processes FRA 2005 has linkages to several other international reporting processes. The key findings have been presented at several international events, and the results are expected to be widely used by other processes. The AG members were briefed by the following: Lars Gunnar Marklund Presentation of the FRA 2005 findings related to carbon and climate change at the UNFCCC COP-11. Mette Wilkie Presentation of the FRA 2005 findings related to biological diversity at the CBD-SBSTA meeting. Information on collaboration on biodiversity information with CBD and IUCN Kailash Govil Information on the CBD 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership; UNEP (GEO 4 report) and a source book on forest monitoring with the World Bank Roman Michalak Information on FRA 2005 and the MCPFE Peter Holmgren Information on the input to the MDG process The presentations demonstrated an increasing use of FRA 2005 information and need for FRA to fine-tune its specifications to service growing demands for forest-related information by international processes and organisations. 4.6 Agenda item 6. Wrap-up and Review of programme for the following day The chairman summarised the issues presented and discussed during the day and reviewed the programme for the following day. There were no suggestions for changes to the programme for the following day. 4.7 Agenda item 7. Evaluation of FRA 2005 Data availability A presentation by Kailash Govil informed the AG members about the large variation in the availability and the quality of the information provided by the countries to FRA 2005. At the global level, the average weighted (area basis) data year for FRA 2005 is around the year 2000 with 65 percent from field inventories, 32 percent from remote sensing surveys alone and the remaining 3 percent based on expert estimates). The 229 country reports show that different methods were used to provide information for the three reference points (1990, 2000 and 2005) of FRA 2005. Specifically, about 47 percent of the country reports used linear inter- and extra-polation methods, 27 percent assumed no change, 14 percent used models, 10 percent used past deforestation rates and only 2 percent used regression analysis based on time series. Lessons learnt Sebueng Kelatwang briefed the AG members on the lessons learnt during the FRA 2005 process based on an internal evaluation made by the FRA secretariat. It focused on three aspects (a) organization and management of FRA 2005, (b) implementation process, and (c) scope of the assessment. It revealed that FAO was very successful in ensuring an active country participation throughout the FRA 2005 reporting process, evidenced by the more than 800 persons including 172 officially nominated national correspondents that have contributed to the process. Despite a time consuming capacity building and dialogue with the countries, the final report will be delivered on time. However, some initial problems were encountered regarding the nomination of NCs and financial constraints impacted on partnership with national institutions and some key activities such as the proposed independent remote sensing. Insufficient institutional capacity and resources at the national level in most of the developing countries had a negative impact on data availability and quality. This was further complicated by the change of NCs in several countries. The scope and content of the assessment (15 national reporting tables and 40 main variables, including several new ones with information requested for three points in time) seem to have worked well, although some variables may need fine-tuning. Finally, the evaluation indicates the need for the following for future FRAs: (a) Establishment of a national task force of key stakeholders should be promoted. (b) There should be an alternate for every officially nominated NC (c) Development of thematic reports should begin before preparation of the country reports, so the results from the thematic studies can be integrated in the country reports and the main report (d) More time should be assigned for review/analysis (e) The reporting process should be further simplified where possible (f) Further clarification of definitions is needed for selected variables (g) Prioritization of support to countries based on availability of data and deforestation rates Discussion AG members concurred with most of the findings and then discussed the issue of a much broader evaluation of FRA 2005. They made the following suggestions for further consideration. (a) Classify tables for which data are easily available and for which there are difficulties (like Table 3, 4, 13 and 14) to provide targeted support (b) Any proposed changes to content and design should bear in mind that many countries have made additional investments in order to provide information according to the FRA 2005 variables. Such changes should, therefore, be kept at an absolute minimum. (c) Provide more support to countries through training, workshop web etc. (d) Schedule more time for data analysis, report writing and review by NCs and AG (e) Continuity and Process should be main themes for the Kotka V meeting (f) Kotka should also discuss the FRA 2005 evaluation and user survey, the method for further elaborating the synthesis assessment and an independent remote sensing for FRA 2010. The AG requested the FRA Secretariat to finalise the proposed questionnaires to be sent to national correspondents, other contributors to FRA 2005 and to potential users of the information contained in FRA 2005 – and to send these to the members for comments. 4.8 Agenda item 8. Support to National Forest Assessment (NFA) Mohamed Saket informed the AG members about progress of the support to NFAs. Work has been completed in five countries, is in progress in three countries and proposals from two countries are in pipeline. In addition there are requests for six country level NFAs and three integrated sub-regional level NFAs, which are currently under consideration. The AG members supported this initiative of FAO and suggested its planned expansion ensuring that country commitments such as these do not end up in one time efforts. 4. 9 Agenda item 9. FRA 2010 and remote sensing Kailash Govil and Anne Branthomme informed the AG members about the current concept and proposed design of an independent remote sensing component for FRA 2010. (See background document for details.) They noted a possible partnership with UNEP and the University of South Dakota among others and that, in addition to validation and complementing country information, the remote sensing component will provide estimates of forest degradation, fragmentation and deforestation global level and regional levels with some information also at national level. The AG discussed the proposal and suggested that it be further developed and included for consideration at the Kotka V meeting. The group also suggested that links with NFAs and ongoing national forest inventories e.g. in industrialised countries should be explored and highlighted. 4.10. Agenda item 10. Kotka V (Expert Consultation) Hivy Ortiz Chour informed the AG members that Finland has kindly offered to host and co- sponsor an Expert Consultation to be held in Kotka, Finland focused on the design of the next global FRA (FRA 2010). This will be fifth expert consultation supported by METLA, Finland, hence called Kotka V. The AG members were also briefed on the preparatory meeting held in Rome on 23 of November 2005 with the Finnish authorities in which the following was agreed upon: A. Main objectives of the Expert Consultation To evaluate FRA 2005: country reporting process, variables, information gaps, network of country correspondents, dissemination of results; To assess the need for implementing an independent study using remote sensing as complementary tool to validate some of the estimates at regional and global levels (primarily forest area and changes over time) and to gather information on forest area change dynamics. To enhance collaboration with other forestry related reporting processes and organizations. To provide guidance for FRA 2010 (process and content). B. Venue and Date The consultation will take place during the week of 11-16 June 2006 (5 working days) at the College of Forestry and Wood Technology, Kotka, Finland. C. Organisation The meeting will be organized by FAO/METLA/UNECE. FAO will contact CPF members and other institutions that may be interested in participating and/or collaborating on the organization of the meeting. D. Participants A maximum of 80 experts will be invited including resource persons. Invitees will be requested to participate in their personal capacities and not representing their country or institution. They include about 40 national delegates, members of the AG, about 20 representatives from international organizations, academia and NGOs, and members of the FRA/UNECE Secretariat. Each of the above items was discussed by the AG. The AG suggested the inclusion of a provision for presentations by countries and organisations, interested in doing so e.g. in the evenings. The AG member also suggested that background documents should include information on the following for detailed consideration at the Kotka, Results of the FRA 2005 evaluation Process for FRA 2010, including networking among NCs Suggested scope and content of FRA 2010 (specification of variables related to the seven thematic elements of SFM and incorporating reporting requirements from other forestry- related processes as far as possible) Independent Remote Sensing component Development of Thematic Reports Beyond FRA 2010, future reporting intervals, etc. The AG requested that the FRA Secretariat develop a detailed draft agenda to be circulated to members for comments together with a list of participants incorporating the proposed changes. 4.11. Agenda item 11. Next meeting of the AG The AG members decided that the next meeting of the AG should be organised between the Kotka V expert consultation and COFO 2007. There was consensus among AG members that November 2006 might be good time for the next meeting of the AG. 4.12 Agenda 12. Future composition and role of the Advisory Group (closed session) The AG members in their closed session deliberated on the future composition of the AG. All the members present expressed their willingness to continue. They were of the opinion that replacements may be considered for some of those members who have not been participating in recent meetings for various reasons. It was decided to invite WRI and UNEP-WCMC to nominate a member of the AG each and for Russia to become a full member once the country has finalised the process of becoming a member of FAO. New members should, as far as possible, have expertise in fields, which may be lacking in the current composition given the broad focus of future global forest resources assessments. The possibilities to ensure that the major forestry countries are represented in the AG should also be taken into consideration when searching for replacements. 4.13 Agenda 13. Closing of the meeting The chairperson thanked the AG members and the FRA secretariat for their support and closed the meeting.