Sixteenth Conference – 2001, Australia

Excerpt from: Conference Proceedings, Supplementary Papers and Reports. Forests in a Changing Landscape, 16th Commonwealth Forestry Conference jointly with the 19th Biennial Conference of the Institute of Foresters of Australia. Fremantle, Western Australia. 18 – 25 April, 2001.

The 16th Commonwealth Forestry Conference, in Fremantle, Western Australia, took place soon after the establishment of the United Nations Forum on Forests in 2000, and in the year that precedes the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002 (Rio +10), which recognises the contribution of sustainable forest management to sustainable development.

The theme, Forests in a changing Landscape, provided plenty of scope for  a wide variety of contributions to capture experiences and perspectives from around the Commonwealth, with “Landscape” being interpreted in all its connotations – physical, political, social, and institutional.

407 delegates participated from 21 Commonwealth countries, together with representatives from Commonwealth agencies, and a number from non-commonwealth countries and international organisations. Delegates included 83 Australian students who benefited from the opportunity to interact with foresters from all around the Commonwealth.

The Conference was followed by a very informative field trip and study tour to the south west, together with a Professional Development Programme. Thanks to the generosity of a number of sponsoring organisations, agencies and private companies, a good number of delegates from developing countries were able to take part in the Conference.

While all of us involved with forestry have embraced many crucial developments of people’s participation, of biodiversity conservation, and of sustainable forest management as we seek to serve the needs of society, this conference identified new emphases and priorities for the 21st century. The conference recognised, notwithstanding the challenges and needs identified, the critical role that sustainable forest management plays in contributing to the economic development and wellbeing of nations.



  • That, although globalisation impacts on the forestry sector, the consequences at the national and local level vary widely,
  • The rights of nations, as sovereign states, to make policy decisions and take actions concerning forests, applicable to their circumstances,
  • That national forest policy requires accountability in implementation and transparency in development,
  • That the future of forestry lies in the profession embracing the challenges of the use of science and technology as well as communicating with, and engaging all stakeholders, including indigenous and local communities, in the management of forests to realise their optimum benefits,
  • That the new paradigm of participatory management requires forest managers to work confidently with the ambiguities and uncertainties inherent in the sustainable management of today’s multi-purpose forests,
  • That the continuing impact of technological developments on all aspects of the forest landscape requires a new approach to forest management,
  • That forestry education will continue to adapt to the changing technologies and practices relevant to forestry and education, and the need for continuing professional development,
  • Concern among those who are responsible for forest management over public perception that harvesting of wood cannot be sustainable and that such harvesting is responsible for the decline of naturally occurring forests,
  • Concern over the lack of public awareness of the huge environmental benefits derived from the use of wood compared with alternative high energy consuming materials,

This Conference recommends that:

A. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting:

  • should give full support to the implementation of the IPF/IFF Proposals for Action through the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), based on the development and implementation of national forest programs that integrate sustainable forest management with other land uses, including the development of national forest reporting systems incorporating relevant criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management;
  • should give full support to partnerships between government, communities, non-government organisations, and the private sector that result in more active involvement of local people.
  • should renew efforts through existing international fora, to address the issues of illegal logging, stakeholder participation and forest fires in practical ways through the transfer of appropriate technologies and capacity building including in regard to institutional governance; and
  • should give full support to inclusive, co-operative, international initiatives that aim to establish comparability and equivalence, including mutual recognition, between forest management certification schemes.

B. Nations, including Governments and civil society:


  • should recognise that political decisions can impact on forestry policy and practice, and in particular can usefully link the forest debate to basic human needs, climate change impacts and biodiversity imperatives;
  • should invite UNFF to explore to what degree existing international forestry instruments impact local forestry practice and the need for a global governance framework on all types of forests.


  • should  should ensure that national forest plans encompass wide consultations, including indigenous and local communities, and include regular reports to the national/state legislatures on the state of a nation’s trees and forests,
  • should give closer consideration to the integration of community management of forests with the broader aspects of social development and supporting legislative and administrative frameworks and stakeholder partnerships;
  • should collaborate in developing further training and aid participatory forest management
  • should note that the complexity of modern forest research requires effective partnerships between scientists, industry and Government;

Economic environment

  • should support initiatives that create incentives, including forestry plantation development, that minimise barriers to investment by industry;
  • should ensure that there are market-based instruments to effectively deliver the goods and services of sustainable forest management to ensure their optimum benefits;
  • should ensure that forestry organisations create an enabling environment to encourage creativity and entrepreneurship among their forest managers

Education and public awareness

  • should reform the scientific and technical educational curriculum, and include provision for continuing professional education;
  • should ensure the availability of reliable data and information, and their accessibility to all stakeholders;
  • should seek every opportunity to influence public perception, through promoting public awareness and understanding of scientifically-sound sustainable forestry practices;
  • should invite the Commonwealth Forestry Association, representing forestry and related interests throughout the Commonwealth, to build closer links with Commonwealth government forest departments and provide financial support, in order to expand information sharing, facilitate professional exchange programmes, and support continuing professional development as ways of strengthening forestry and related professions throughout the Commonwealth;


  • should ensure the accessibility of simple and affordable technology to all, to assist in management and decision-making processes.

C. The International community:

  • should give particular attention to the needs of small island developing states and small nations where limitations of size constrains resources, to meet adequately the diversity that the forestry sector embraces. In particular donors need to be locally sensitive and should respect both indigenous knowledge and competencies;
  • should ensure the availability of reliable information, accessible to all stakeholders, such as through IUFRO’s global information service and those of other international agencies. Of particular concern is the need for natural resource assessment and high quality inventory data especially in resource poor developing countries.

D. The Standing Committee on Commonwealth Forestry:

  • should ensure that future Commonwealth Forestry Conferences consider involving community and other interest groups, including other professions, in the Conference programme;
  • should seek to promote the continued future involvement of the student community in Commonwealth Forestry Conferences, recognising the valuable contribution that inter-generational exchange of information can offer, and should explore ways to integrate students more fully into future Conferences;
  • should aim to repeat the successful linking with the host country professional forestry organisation(s) at future conferences;
  • should aim to increase the range of Commonwealth nations represented at future conferences through active outreach efforts, to reflect the pan-Commonwealth nature of the conferences.
  • Should continue to encourage sponsorship and seek funding to support attendance at future Conferences by participants from developing countries.