The UK plays an active part in the international and regional debates on sustainable forestry (Intergovernmental Panel and Forum on Forests, the Pan-European Process and forestry discussions within the G8) and the promotion of sustainable forest management. It attaches great importance to the G8 Action Programme on Forests launched in May 1998 and will continue to implement the programme both nationally and internationally. The following outlines the UK's contribution to the G8 Action Programme.
II. Monitoring and assessment
- published the UK Forestry Standard in 1998. The Standard sets out the criteria for sustainable forestry within the UK and the indicators by which they can be assessed, both at the national level and within individual forests. The Government is committed to monitoring performance against these criteria and will continue to develop and refine the Standard and report on progress. It has published a number of Environmental Guidelines and Guides to support the UK Forestry Standard. Results from monitoring will influence the future of the Standard itself as well as policy, regulations, incentives and guidance.
- is conducting the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees, a broad-ranging survey of public and private woodlands not just covering the timber resource, but taking in other factors such as environmental characteristics. The inventory covers Britain's largest forests right down to individual trees. The aerial photography is virtually complete and a digital map of British woodlands should be complete early in 2000. The survey field work is on target to finish by April 2000.
- has begun to publish results from the National Inventory and other information in support of its commitment to report on the criteria and indicators published in the UK Forestry Standard. Full results will be published in 2001.
- submitted information in January 1998 for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's forest resource assessment (TBFRA-2000) and during 1999 participated in data checking and in reviewing the UNECE/FAO conclusions.
- continues to participate in all areas of the pan-European process and follow-up work of the Lisbon Conference. Agreed a pan-European work programme which includes the continued review, refinement and development of regional criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.
- undertook a survey of forest landscape in 1999. Sample data have been collected and are being analysed.
- has commissioned independent consultants to undertake a survey of the health and vitality of forestry businesses. The results will be reported by March 2000.
- has published the Forestry Commission Research Strategy to improve the scientific underpinning for sustainable forest management.
- carries out an annual survey to assess forest health.
- has continued to provide support to capacity building in partner countries to help them develop monitoring and assessment systems and develop and apply criteria and indicators. For example, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) is working with the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on the assessment of state-owned plantations; on a strategic environmental assessment of forest plantations and catchment yields; and on the development of criteria and indicators for the management of natural forests.
- completed support to FAO's FRA-2000 in two areas: protected area information (through WCMC); and plantations.
III. National Forest Programmes
- has participated and made commitments in the IPF, the G8 and the Pan-European Process. The UK's national forest programme is made up from a number of key documents, including the UK Forestry Standard, with policies and responsibilities for individual components of the national forest programme spread across a variety of Ministries and Agencies.
- played an important role in the Six-Country Initiative in support of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests which explored how the IPF proposals for action could be put into practice at the national level, to meet the circumstances of individual countries.
- commissioned work to map out the constituent parts of the policy and regulatory framework within which forestry in the UK takes place, and published Towards a National Forest Programme for the UK in 1998.
- is preparing a strategy for delivering sustainable forest management in the UK, to update the 1994 Sustainable Forestry - the UK Programme. The strategy aims to develop a more integrated approach and improve co-ordination of the mechanisms and processes that deliver the UK's national forest programme.
- devolved forestry responsibilities on 1 July 1999. Forestry strategies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are being prepared for publication in 2000, with widespread consultation exercises already underway.
- published a Forestry Strategy for England: A New Focus for England's Woodlands in December 1998, setting out the Government's priorities and programmes for delivering sustainable forestry over the next 5-10 years. This is based on four key programmes which include a range of actions to implement the strategy: forestry for rural development, forestry for recreation, access and tourism, forestry for economic regeneration, and forestry for environment and conservation.
- has continued support to partner countries in the elaboration and implementation of national forest programmes and together with the UK Forestry Commission participated in the Six-Country Initiative. Since May 1998 DFID has begun new, long-term, programmes of support in Malawi and Uganda. In both countries the UK works closely with other bilateral and multilateral agencies, including Germany and the European Commission (EC).
- has, in the last twelve months, completed two studies related to climate change and forests in developing countries: The Clean Development Mechanism: Benefits Of The CDM For Developing Countries and Rural Livelihoods and Carbon Management: A Draft Issues Paper For DFID. Both serve to inform DFID and its partner countries about the implications of carbon offset scenarios for developing countries and, in particular, the rural poor and landless.
- together with Japan, is supporting the review to assess progress towards achievement of ITTO's Year 2000 Objective, to ensure that all exports of tropical timber come from sustainably managed sources.
IV. Protected forest areas
- initiated a review of the mechanisms for protected forest areas in the UK.
- provided assistance as a member of the Steering Group for the US/Brazil International Experts meeting on protected forest areas in March 1999. The initiative contributed to the work of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and helped advance the understanding of issues related to forest protection.
- developed the UK Biodiversity Action Plan which has led to a series of plans and targets for increasing the diversity of UK wildlife, particularly species and habitats defined as national priorities. Many of these plans affect forestry.
- has conducted a major review of its biodiversity conservation experience in developing countries, with a view to informing DFID's development programmes. Several thematic issues papers have been produced, including one on forests: Forests, biodiversity and Livelihoods: Linking Policy and Practice. A synthesis paper which will guide DFID's biodiversity policy and practices in the future will be published in early 2000.
- has started a three-year Biodiversity in Development Project in collaboration with the EC and IUCN to assist the EC and Member States of the European Union in working more effectively with developing countries to implement the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Although not restricted to protected areas or forests the project promotes the conservation of forests in protected areas.
V. Private sector
- provides grants and information for the private forest and wood processing sectors in the UK, to encourage planting and promote sustainable forest management in line with the UK Forestry Standard. Most new planting is carried out by the private sector and forestry expansion must be balanced with the needs of other land uses and respect the character of the landscape. Grant aid under the Woodland Grant Scheme is aimed at creating habitats for wildlife, enhancing the landscape and providing opportunities for recreation and other benefits to society, as well as timber production. In addition, annual payments over 10 or 15 years are available to farmers establishing new woodlands under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. Both grant schemes are part-financed by the EC.
- consults widely and regularly with the private sector, for example, in the development of the UK Forestry Standard. The Government works closely with industry in the development and promotion of codes of good practice.
- worked closely with forestry and environmental organisations to develop and launch in 1999 a national scheme for the independent certification of sustainable forest management.
- launched in June 1999 the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS), a voluntary scheme, developed by a partnership of forestry and environmental organisations in response to the growing consumer demand for timber products from sustainably managed forests. The certification process represents a new way of doing business for the broader forest community so that UK forestry continues to improve its environmental and economic performance. A Steering Group, comprising representatives from private woodland owners, forestry managers and consultants, state forestry sector, environmental organisations, woodland users, timber processors and trade, forest workforce, countryside agencies, local government and forestry standard setting bodies, is formally establishing and taking forward the Scheme. UKWAS represents a consensus on a forestry performance standard at the national level and within the first year of UKWAS being operational it is estimated that up to 75% of wood production in the UK, from both private and public sector lands, could be certified.
- works with a number of countries to develop regulatory and institutional frameworks which encourage responsible private sector investment and practices. For example, DFID is supporting processes of institutional and legislative change in Ghana's forest sector.
- helps promote private investment and partnerships in sustainable forest management. For example, in South Africa, DFID is supporting the transfer of state-owned plantations to new management through a major restructuring process and the development of partnerships between the private sector and local communities.
- together with the EC, has embarked on a three-year programme (1998-2000) of policy research by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) on Instruments For Sustainable Private Sector Forestry. The programme aims to identify effective market and regulatory instruments which ensure that the private sector produces social and environmental benefits from forest management. Working in a number of countries, the programme is examining partnerships between companies and communities; certification and audit, looking in particular at issues of effectiveness and equity; and other innovative instruments affecting public and private lands.
- together with other agencies (including the EC and Germany), is supporting UNDP's work on innovative financing mechanisms and partnership approaches in a number of countries under PROFOR (Programme on Forests - 1998 to 2002).
- co-sponsored with UNDP an international workshop on financing of sustainable forest management, in the UK in October 1999, as an input to the debate in the IFF.
VI. Illegal logging
- regulates tree felling through felling licenses, management plans, tree preservation orders and statutory development control. All reports of alleged illegal felling are thoroughly investigated and if confirmed, the individuals concerned are prosecuted.
- places applications for felling on a public register before approval is granted. This helps the public to identify and report unauthorised felling. With certain exceptions, it is illegal to fell trees in the UK without prior approval. Areas approved for felling are usually subject to a condition requiring the area to be replanted or naturally regenerated, except where felling is allowed for environmental improvement or for development authorised under planning regulations.
- has continued to work with partner countries to develop their capacity to assess the nature and extent of illegally harvested timber and implement counter measures. In 1999, a DFID-supported project working with Indonesia's Ministry of Forests and Estate Crops completed a major review of this subject entitled Addicted to Rent: Corporate and Spatial Distribution of Forest Resources in Indonesia; Implications for Forest Sustainability and Government Policy, and is following up on counter measures with the government and civil society organisations.
- has committed over one million dollars in 1999 for two new pieces of work to tackle illegal logging. In the first of these, the UK will, over a three-year period, support the Forestry Crime and Reporting Project in Cambodia. This will develop independent monitoring and verification processes and mechanisms to track specific forest crime incidents; promote effective co-ordination between units in different ministries; and create a transparent data base on forest crime.
- is also supporting the core activities of Global Forest Watch. This recently created body provides decision makers and civil society with independent and accurate information on the state and change of natural forest through a transparent monitoring network.
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Source: The Government of Japan