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Forest Principles


The Rio Summit failed to reach a legally binding agreement (UN Conventions) over forests, choosing instead to adopt set of guidelines, known as the Forest Principles The Forest Principles document did not reach full convention status. Instead it is a "non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests".

Forests get a mention in Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 "Combatting Deforestation"

The debate on forests initiated prior to and during UNCED continued with increasing intensity after the Earth Summit. Governments engaged in a series of national, bi-lateral and global initiatives; the UN agencies established special interagency arrangements for co-operation on forests and forestry issues; and NGOs, the private sector and other major groups engaged in activities related to sustainable forest management and co-operation with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD, at its Third Session decided to establish the "Open-ended ad hoc Intergovernmental Panel on Forests" (IPF) under its aegis.

The IPF looks to

  1. Implement UNCED decisions related to forests at the national and international level including an examination of sectoral and cross-sectoral linkages.

  2. International cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer;

  3. Scientific research, forest assessment and development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management;

  4. Trade and environment relating to forest products and services.

  5. International organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments including appropriate legal mechanisms;

The Panel should make progress towards:

  • improved national forest policies and development strategies at the national level

  • better co-ordination and enhanced quality of international co-operation;

  • new approaches to forest resources assessment including social and economic values of forest resources;

  • and improved understanding of environmental implications of harvesting and trade of forest products.

Latest on Forest Principles from the United Nations at http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/ipf.htm

Visit International Institute of Sustainable Development
and check out Natural Resources - Forests

Forest Principles - text

  1. The subject of forests is related to the entire range of environmental and development issues and opportunities, including the right to socio-economic development on a sustainable basis.

  2. The guiding objective of these principles is to contribute to the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests and to provide for their multiple and complementary functions and uses.

  3. Forestry issues and opportunities should be examined in a holistic and balanced manner within the overall context of environment and development, taking into consideration the multiple functions and uses of forests, including traditional uses, and the likely economic and social stress when these uses are constrained or restricted, as well as the potential for development that sustainable forest management can offer.

  4. These principles reflect a first global consensus on forests. In committing themselves to the prompt implementation of these principles, countries also decide to keep them under assessment for their adequacy with regard to further international cooperation on forest issues.

  5. These principles should apply to all types of forests, both natural and planted, in all geographic regions and climatic zones, including austral, boreal, subtemperate, temperate, subtropical and tropical.

  6. All types of forests embody complex and unique ecological processes which are the basis for their present and potential capacity to provide resources to satisfy human needs as well as environmental values, and as such their sound management and conservation is of concern to the Governments of the countries to which they belong and are of value to local communities and to the environment as a whole.

  7. Forests are essential to economic development and the maintenance of all forms of life.

  8. Recognizing that the responsibility for forest management, conservation and sustainable development is in many States allocated among federal/ national, state/ provincial and local levels of government, each State, in accordance with its constitution and/or national legislation, should pursue these principles at the appropriate level of government.

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2002 Edition