Twelfth Conference – 1985, Canada

Excerpt from: Proceedings of the Twelfth Commonwealth Forestry Conference, Victoria, B.C. Sept. 8-22, 1985. 1986. Glover, S.G.; Arnott, J.T.; Brown, C.E., Editors. Agriculture Canada, Ministry of State for Forestry and Mines, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. 373 p.

G.D. Holmes, Chairman of the Editorial and Recommendations Committee, presented the Concluding Statement, Recommendations and Press Release. In his introduction he reiterated the challenge of change, the fact that foresters are working in the public eye, and the recognition of public use and mixture of needs. He drew particular attention to presenting the Recommendations to the meeting of agriculture ministers in Rome in November 1985.

Concluding Statement and Recommendations of the Twelfth Conference

There has never been a time in which the international community has been more conscious of the importance of forests. The FAO has declared 1985 to be the International Year of the Forest. It did so because of its awareness of the need for better management of forests and the dangers posed by the rapid depletion of tropical forest resources. The Twelfth CFC also concluded that the depletion of forest resources in many parts of the world is a threat to the wellbeing and often the survival of large parts of the world’s population. The scale of the problem is large. FAO estimates that tropical forest is being cleared at some 11 million ha each year and as much as 40 percent may have been lost in the last 25 years. In Canada in 1983 it was estimated that coniferous forest was being lost to non-renewal, fire, pests, and disease at about 1 million ha per year. The challenge for the future is underlined by the estimate that between the year 1980 and 2025, the total number of people on earth will double from 4.4 billion to 8.5 billion.

Both in the countries faced with the critical needs of rising populations, and in countries faced with rising public awareness and expectations concerning the quality of the environment, it becomes essential that forests are managed more wisely and in a more integrated fashion than hitherto, under policies that recognize the multiple benefits that forests can provide. Forest renewal has been a dominant theme throughout the Conference; for too long we have capitalized on, and drawn income from the forest with inadequate reinvestment. The concept of responsible stewardship of the forest resource is a key one. Such stewardship relates particularly to forest conservation and forest renewal but it must also relate to expanding the resource by new plantations and tree planting outside forest lands, to be closely linked with improved and sustainable agriculture and incorporating community forestry and agroforestry. Forestry is no longer an activity concerned with specially designated forest land remote from the public. Society and other land users are now intimately involved and increasingly the forest manager is concerned with achieving a wise overall use of land which balances the needs of wood and food production, and environmental quality.

To achieve the required action on the ground will require a major investment over the next decades, particularly in developing countries. With this background, the Twelfth Commonwealth Forestry Conference recommends to Commonwealth governments:

1. Public awareness: that vigorous steps be taken immediately to raise the level of public awareness and comprehension of the broad spectrum of forestry to encourage well-informed and rational debate on forest management issues. Forest managers should ensure integration of timber production, environmental responsibilities and the varied needs of society. They should become involved int he process of land use planning and take full account of the social needs of the people they serve.

2. The environment: that public awareness and the political significance of environmental issues, notably landscape, recreation, and nature conservation, are now major factors to be considered. If forestry policies are to reflect the changing needs and aspirations of society they must be based on multiple-use principles with the appropriate balance of environmental and financial objectives. To achieve this requires employment of a wide range of disciplines and investment in improved communications and skills both in environmental and financial management.

3. Forest regeneration and management: that there is an urgent need for new initiatives to control the rapid rate of forest depletion in many countries and to improve the standard of regeneration and protection of forests after harvest. Primarily, reform stumpage and wood pricing policies with the aim of increasing financial resources for forest renewal; and require investors and users to meet specified forest management objectives in exchange for security of tenure.

4. Pressure on tropical forests:  that pressure on natural forests in tropical and subtropical countries be relieved by promoting integrated rural development plans including establishment of new plantations to increase supplies of timber for industrial use and fuel wood, and efficient sustainable systems of agriculture, including agroforestry.

5. Land degradation: that in view of one rapidly deteriorating condition of forests, soil and water resources, and the widespread land degradation and desertification in many developing countries, that current action programs be expanded, and that the socioeconomic and ecological consequences of failing to take urgent action be evaluated and publicized.

6. Rural development and fuelwood: that forestry agencies actively promote the role of forestry as an integral part of rural development and convince their governments to accord high priority to forestry projects including small enterprises and in particular to address the fuelwood crisis in developing countries.

7. Financial management and economic analysis: that forest enterprises adopt and further develop appropriate management tools of a financial and economic nature, including methods of investment appraisal and accounting, that present a true and realistic picture of forestry investments.

8. Training needs: that governments, international aid agencies, and forestry training institutions review their existing training programs and invest as necessary to ensure that an adequate number of professionals, technicians and forest workers are trained and that there are satisfactory career paths developed.

9. Research: that to ensure the most effective use of available funds, priorities for research should take account of practical relevance and prospects for application. Particular attention should be paid to those activities where expanded investment is required, notably forest renewal and forestry in relation to agriculture and rural development, especially for dry lands. In addition, special attention should be paid to integrated methods of analysis of management systems designed to ensure that any series of operations is, in aggregate, optimized in financial and business terms.

10. Use of information: that, in view of the widespread failure of land use managers to make use of available scientific and technical information, they should review the extent of this failure and invest as necessary in improved information systems.

11. High technology land-use planning: that forest administrations examine the use of satellite imagery and other remote sensing information and, subject to cost-effectiveness, consider using this in planning, mapping and monitoring.

12. Commonwealth cooperation: that ministers responsible for forestry in Commonwealth countries should take appropriate action to support and strengthen cooperation in forestry, particularly relating to research, training and information exchange.

13. Commonwealth institutions: that the future of Commonwealth Forestry Conferences and of the activities of Commonwealth institutions be reviewed and strengthened in the light of the changing needs of member countries.