|The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the foundation created to help tackle the world’s most pressing environmental problems, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), recently launched a project intending to help countries have better forestry management / Photo by: Scopritore via Wikimedia Commons|
The United Nations specialized agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the foundation created to help tackle the world’s most pressing environmental problems, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), recently launched a project intending to help countries have better forestry management.
Helping Combat Climate Change
The $7.1 million-worth project will make forest data of various countries more accessible, available, and transparent so they can meet the enhanced transparency requirements set by the Paris Climate Agreement, reports think tank International Institute for Sustainable Development. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached an agreement in Paris in December 2015 to combat climate change and intensify and accelerate their investments and actions for a sustainable carbon future.
To achieve the Convention’s objective, Parties to the agreement need comprehensive, transparent, and reliable information on climate actions, support, and greenhouse gas emissions. This obliged them to communicate to the Conference of the Parties (COP) the relevant information for the implementation of the Convention. The UNFCCC also said that they have set a timetable and reporting requirements for the submission of the national reports.
Making Forest Data and Land-Use Change More Transparent
The FAO and GEF believe that by teaming up for a new project, they can be more efficient reporting and monitoring of land-use change and forests in various countries. This kind of forestry management is necessary to track their progress towards sustainable development goals and adaptation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
The FAO funded $5.2 million and GEF $1.9 million for the global project. FAO Assistant Director-General in the Forestry Department Hiroto Mitsugi said, “Many developing countries lack the capacity to generate reliable forest data to report on their climate achievements.” Their new project will help countries in gathering, analyzing, and disseminating forest-related data per the requirements under the Paris Agreement.
The think tank added that a total of 26 countries will directly benefit from the project, including those in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and some 185 nations and territories included in the global network called the National Correspondents for the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA).
|The FAO and GEF believe that by teaming up for a new project, they can be more efficient reporting and monitoring of land-use change and forests in various countries / Photo by: Friends of the Earth International via Flickr|
Several Ways the Project Will Build Countries’ Capacity in Forest Management
The FAO-GEF project will be focusing on upgrading FAO’s FRA 2020 reporting platform, which was previously utilized for the gathering of information on the trends and status of the world’s forest resources. Upgrading the FRA will enable a more transparent reporting as well as easier access to the data reported.
The initiative will also focus on sharing and identifying case studies and practices on transparency within the forest sector. “Forests are more than trees and fundamental food security and improved livelihoods,” the FAO stated. Third, the project plans to organize national and sub-regional workshops across Latin America, Africa, and Asia as well as in the Carribean to build better capacity in forest management.
Fourth, it will pay attention to developing various communication and outreach materials to raise awareness about the importance of data collection, dissemination, and analysis for transparency in the forest industry. Fifth, it will help create an e-learning course on data transparency for the government forestry personnel and staff. However, the forestry data will not be limited to them alone but will also be broadly available to intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and universities.
|The FAO-GEF project will be focusing on upgrading FAO’s FRA 2020 reporting platform, which was previously utilized for the gathering of information on the trends and status of the world’s forest resources / Photo by: USAID Biodiversity & Forestry via Wikimedia Commons|
Forest Resources, Intensity of Use
An intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shared the data on the intensity of use of forest resources, particularly of timber. The data shows the actual tree fellings (average annual standing volume of trees measured over bark) and harvest to the yearly productive capacity of forests.
Finland’s intensity of use of forest resources was at a 0.81 ratio in 2017, Norway at 0.54, Ireland 0.46, Netherlands 0.50, Hungary 0.58, Denmark 0.67, Turkey 0.44, Czech Republic 0.88, Estonia 0.76, Lavia 0.57, Korea 0.23, and New Zealand 0.75.
The latest available forest resources data of the United States is from 2011 with a 0.473 ratio. The United Kingdom had a 0.629 ratio in 2015, and Japan a 0.398 ratio in 2005.
The FAO’s 2018 State of the World’s Forest report further indicates that the world’s forest area decreased from 31.6 percent of the global land area to 30.6 between 1990 and 2015. Forests also act as carbon sinks by absorbing about 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Forests and Economic Development
In a March 2019 study titled "Relationship between forest resources and economic growth: Empirical evidence from China," authors Yu Hao from Beijing Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research and their team detailed that natural resources, especially forests, are important to the sustainable development of their country. It indicates the positive effects on the economy of having a balanced growth, wherein forest resources are more actively protected and less consumed.
There are also other economic benefits of forests, including employment, trade and processing of forest products and energy, and investment in the forest industry. Trees and forests also make contributions to SDGs via agroforestry, the informal sector, climate change adaptation, tourism, and sustainable water management.