United States of America
- Table of Contents
- I. Introduction
- II. Monitoring and Assessment
- III. National Programs
- IV. Protected Areas
- V. Private Sector
- VI. Illegal Logging/Trade
- VII. Next Steps
Heads of State or Government of eight major industrialized democracies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States) and the President of the European Commission meet annually to discuss global political, economic and environmental issues. Recognizing the importance of forests in meeting the needs of people around the world and maintaining the planet's biodiversity and climatic health, G-8 Leaders at the Denver Summit in 1997 called for the development of a practical Action Program on Forests focusing on five areas: (1) monitoring and assessing the state of forests; (2) national programs for sustainable forest management; (3) protected areas; (4) role of the private sector and (5) illegal logging and illegal trade.
In May 1998 at the Birmingham Summit, the "G-8 Action Program on Forests" was launched by Foreign Ministers and endorsed by Leaders who asked for a progress report on implementation in 2000. The Action Program (see Annex) identifies activities the G-8 partners consider priorities for promoting forest conservation and sustainable management domestically and worldwide.
This report represents an initial response on US efforts to carry forward the actions outlined in the Action Program at home and abroad. It does not include all domestic and international programs and activities undertaken by government and non-government entities that are relevant to the five areas of the G-8 Action Program. The US report, together with other G-8 reports, will be included as an annex to a joint G-8 report submitted to Leaders at the Okinawa Summit in July 2000.
US Context. The United States is the fourth most forested country, with 8% or 300 million hectares (ha) of the world's forests. The US has a highly decentralized system of government and a mix of private and public forest land ownership. About 60% of US forests are privately owned by 11 million owners. The 50 states are individually responsible for guiding and regulating management of these private forests, as well as state-owned forests, which represent about 5% of US forests. The remaining 35% of forest land is publicly owned and managed by several agencies of the federal government, including the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Defense. Given decentralized forest regulation and extensive private ownership, the actions of state and local governments and many non-government parties (small non-industrial forest owners, industry, local communities, etc.) are the principal factors in how US forests are managed and in domestic progress towards forest conservation and sustainable management.
The United States has major forests interests at the international level. The US is the world's largest producer, consumer and trader in wood products, accounting for 15% of the international trade in forests products. Total domestic production, exports and imports are valued at about $150 billion annually. The US also provides substantial forest-related assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies, as well as through contributions to international organizations and financial institutions, such as the World Bank, and innovative debt reduction initiatives. Several of the largest multinational forest and paper companies are US-owned, and many US-based environmental organizations and academic institutions undertake forest field activities and projects abroad.
The US Government is committed to the goal of forest conservation and sustainable management at home and abroad. The G-8 Forest Action Program, together with the Montreal Process on Criteria and Indicators (C&I) and the Proposals for Action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), as well as a number of national initiatives, provide an action-oriented policy and political framework for meeting this goal.
II. Monitoring and Assessment
A. Domestic Implementation of Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators
The US Forest Service -
At the State level
- In June 1998 committed to prepare a comprehensive national assessment of the status and trends of US forest conditions and management based on the 7 criteria and 67 indicators for sustainable forest management identified by the Montreal Process. The resulting Presidential report to Congress will be released in 2003 as part of the mandated five yearly national assessment of all forest lands and trends in the forest sector, undertaken within the framework of the 1974 Resources Planning Act.
- In July 1998 initiated the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests, bringing together federal, state and local government agencies, environmental groups and industry to facilitate implementation of the Montreal Process criteria and indicators (C&I) for both public and private forests. The Roundtable has drawn up a charter, established working groups on public outreach and technical issues, created a website and taken its message to key domestic forestry meetings. Workshops will take place around the country in 2000 to assess the status of data collection, including gaps, for each criterion and associated indicators.
- Also in July 1998 officially institutionalized the Montreal Process C&I as the framework for all future forest inventories, assessments, monitoring and performance accountability from the field level to the national level for the 76 million ha of national forests managed by the Forest Service. Several of the 50 States have since agreed to take similar steps for state and private forest lands.
- Has fully staffed the National Inventory and Monitoring Institute, chartered in 1996 to coordinate national and subnational application of inventory systems, including the Montreal Process C&I, and is in the process of integrating and expanding its two existing national forest monitoring systems: the Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program, which includes a systematic assessment of many indicators of environmental health, and the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, which provides data on forest extent, type, growth and other timber values.
- States in the Northeast, Northwest and Great Lakes regions have begun using the Montreal Process C&I to develop subnational C&I to assess regional forest conditions. The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) recently completed a state-by-state survey on the status of available data for each C&I and is evaluating the data it provides federal agencies in order to better contribute to national forest assessments.
B. International Cooperation on Forest Assessments and Criteria and Indicators
- In July 1998 the US Forest Service completed its input to the UN-ECE/FAO Temperate and Boreal Forest Resources Assessment (TBFRA) 2000, providing data on general forest resources, biodiversity, protection status, wood and carbon supply, forest condition and socio-economic function. The Forest Service is now looking at strategies to provide crosslinks among the Montreal, Helsinki and TBFRA process indicators. Under the auspices of the North American Forestry Commission, the US, Canada and Mexico have chartered a new study group on inventory and monitoring.
- In July 1998 the Forest Service hosted a regional workshop on how to carry out the FRA 2000 remote sensing survey in North America, which FAO is using as a model for other regions. The US has since completed its survey, is assisting Mexico with its survey and, through the International Institute for Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico, has coordinated surveys for the Caribbean, including country capacity building. In addition, the US is providing technical assistance to FAO for the remote sensing and non-wood goods and services components of FRA 2000, as well as consultants to assist FAO with developing related strategic and implementation plans.
- The Forest Service is working with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to develop forestry databases for Russia and since 1998 has been providing analytical assistance for C&I implementation; it has also assisted Argentina, Mexico and Indonesia to establish or revamp their national scale inventories.
- In November 1999 the US hosted the 11th Meeting of the Montreal Process Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests in Charleston, South Carolina. Representatives from the Montreal Process countries attended, as well as over 20 observers from international organizations, other C&I processes, NGOs, States, industry and labor. A major outcome of the meeting was a call to FAO to host, together with interested governments and organizations, a global meeting on ways to improve global C&I comparability and enhance implementation. In 1998, the US was named Convenor of the Working Group's Technical Advisory Committee.
C. International Cooperation on Fire and Remote Sensing
- In response to catastrophic fires around the world, in 1998 the US posted 24 time satellite data (images, graphs, maps) on the World Wide Web on fires in the Amazon, Indonesia and Mexico to support government and stakeholder forest fire management, prevention and suppression efforts; contributed $2 million to Brazil's fire monitoring and prevention program (PROARCO); launched a $1 million community training and extension program in the Amazon; assisted Mexico with fire emergency planning, preparation and training; co-sponsored a fire experts meeting on fire use and management in agro-pastoral and forestry programs in Mexico; and established an $8 million fire prevention and restoration fund with Mexican NGOs.
- In March 1999 the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hosted an "Intercomparison Workshop" with Brazilian and other scientists to assess lessons learned from the 1998 Brazilian forest fire monitoring campaign, using the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). On this basis US and Brazilian drew up a 1999 fire management plan, including satellite fire detection, airborne imagery and computerized fire forecasting models to enhance Brazil's fire management capabilities.
- In June 1998 the US Department of State launched a new $3.3 million East Asia and Pacific Environmental Initiative to help address the devastating fires and related haze problems in the region and reduce the extent of future fires. This included funding a study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Center for Agroforesty Research (ICRAF) on the underlying causes of the 1997-98 fires.
- In July 1998 the US Department of State hosted the 1st International Conference to launch the Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN), which will create a virtual network for timely dissemination of accurate data to prevent, mitigate and respond to natural disasters. In May 1999 the US and Mexico co-sponsored the 2nd GDIN Conference in Mexico City. The 3rd and 4th Conferences will be in Turkey in 2000 and Australia in 2001.
- In 1999 the G-8 agreed to a US-proposed collaborative initiative to enhance the use of remote sensing as a tool to inventory, assess, monitor and manage forests and detect and respond to forest-related threats and disasters such as fire. As a first step, the G-8 will inventory their existing remote sensing activities, both domestic and those with other countries and international organizations. This will be complemented by an assessment of needs for remote sensing data and capabilities on forests. On this basis, the G-8 aim to identify ways to create and maintain comparable spatial data bases and internationally, facilitate access to such information by interested countries and other users, enhance capacity of interested countries to utilize and apply remote sensing data and techniques, and improve practical applications to meet the needs of forest field operations.
III. National Forest Programmes
Many of the domestic and international activities identified elsewhere in this report are relevant to improving "national programs for sustainable forest management" in the US and other countries. In addition:
- In September 1999 the US Forest Service issued new draft planning regulations that give emphasize sustainable management of National Forests, provide direction for working towards sustainability and recognize the importance of criteria and indicators and related monitoring activities. Under these regulations, the Forest Service will allocate $11.5 million to engage more actively in partnerships with states, non-governmental organizations and industry to pursue sustainable forest management.
- In October 1998 the Chief of the Forest Service awarded $2 million in grant funding under the Natural Resources Agenda for the 21st Century -- a major initiative that will use sustainable forest ecosystem management as its unifying theme, with emphasis on restoring degraded watersheds and improving recreation services at national forests.
- In 1998-99 the US Government (USG) initiated a process of consultation with interested stakeholders on implementing the IPF Proposals for Action endorsed by the UN General Assembly Special Session on Environment and Development in June 1998. As part of this process, the US is exploring linkages between the IPF Proposals for Action and the Montreal Process C&I.
- In July 1998 President Clinton signed into law the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) authorizing reduction of official debt owed the US by countries with tropical forests in exchange for forest conservation measures. The law expands the innovative 1992 Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, which has led to agreements with eight Latin American countries to cancel nearly $1 billion in official debt, generating substantial local currency for child survival and environmental projects. Several countries have expressed interest in entering into agreements under TFCA. Once implementing procedures are in place, the Act has the potential to provide unprecedented opportunities for promoting forest conservation in qualifying countries.
- In 1998 and 1999, the US Global Research Program updated its annual report, "Our Changing Planet," which provides data on the impacts in the US of climate change, including the impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems.
IV. Protected Areas
- In October 1999 President Clinton announced plans to protect an additional 18 million ha of federally owned forests from harvesting and road building. A year-long review process to solicit public comments and conduct an environmental impact statement will determine the specific areas to be protected. This represents one of the most significant land conservation efforts in American history.
- In February 1999 the US Forest Service announced a moratorium on new road construction in selected areas of national forests while a comprehensive study involving local communities is made of each area. New scientific tools and analytical procedures will be used to consider potential environmental, economic and social impacts of additional forest roads, including fragmentation of undisturbed forest ecosystems.
- In March 1999 the US and Brazil co-sponsored the International Experts Meeting on Protected Forest Areas in Puerto Rico to advance international understanding of forest protection and contribute to the work of the UN Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF). 130 experts participated from more than 70 countries, international organizations, environmental and indigenous groups, research institutions and universities. The Final Report was presented and issued as a Conference Document at IFF 3 in May 1999.
- In 1998 the US, with Argentina, Brazil and Chile, became guarantors of the Peru-Ecuador Peace Treaty, which created a peace park along the heavily forested border as an innovative approach to solving border conflicts while protecting forests.
- The US is working with other Western Hemisphere Governments, universities and NGOs to develop a natural resource database building on computer programs such as the US BIOECONET and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN), to facilitate hemispheric information sharing on resource conservation, including forest protection.
V. Private Sector
Public-private partnerships are essential tools for sustainable forest management in the US and many other countries. The term "private sector" includes the range of NGO interests: environmental, business, labor, academic, philanthropic, forest owners. Many activities noted elsewhere in this report have involved NGOs. In addition:
- In 1998 the US Department of Energy and the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), representing major US companies (e.g., International Paper, Weyerhaeuser, Proctor & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific), expanded their cooperative Technology Vision and Research Agenda 2020 to include the US Forest Service. Agenda 2020 promotes sustainable forestry practices across the US by identifying and funding high priority research projects aimed at improved efficiency, biotechnology and sustainable forestry. Agenda 2020 has attracted $13 million to date in joint public-private financing.
- In September 1999 the State Department initiated a high-level dialogue with key non-government constituencies (environmental, business, the States, etc.) with a view to identifying US international forest priorities. The Department also broadened its consultation process to include the Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council, a grassroots organization representing 300,000 workers in pulp, paper, solid wood products and other natural resource-based industries. The Council has established a group to engage the USG on international and domestic forest issues, emphasizing the importance of forest-dependent communities in the promotion of sustainable forest management.
- The US Government cooperated with the World Wildlife Fund US, other environmental NGOs and the Ford Motor Company in an initiative that led to the publication in May 1999 of a comprehensive Conservation Assessment of the Terrestrial Ecoregions of North America, including forests.
- At the 1999 Cologne Summit G-8 Leaders at US urging and with support from Canada and others, committed to work within the OECD towards common environmental guidelines for export credit agencies, with the aim of completing the work by 2001. The Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of the United States is the only export credit agency to have in place "Environmental Procedures and Guidelines" for evaluating applications for financial support for foreign projects sponsored by US business, including forest management and wood processing projects..
- The US Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI), part of the US Climate Change Action Plan, encourages the US private sector, working with non-US partners, to use its resources and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development worldwide, including sustainable forest management. As of March 1999, USIJI had accepted 36 projects in 16 countries, including projects supporting forest conservation, protected areas, reforestation, reduced impact logging and community silviculture that provide carbon sequestration benefits.
- Following Hurricane Mitch in May 1999, USAID and the US Department of Commerce began working with AF&PA through its Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) to restore devastated areas in Central America. This partnership includes a pilot program on long-term sustainable forest management on the Honduran Island of Guanaja.
- In 1998 the US, through USAID and contributions to the International Tropical Timber Organization, supported projects on low impact logging in tropical forests of Brazil and Indonesia, which are being implemented by the Tropical Forest Foundation, an NGO with members from industry, environmental and academia.
- The USG continues to welcome the development and application of private voluntary codes of conduct, as well as private voluntary market-based mechanisms, as tools toward sustainable forest management. In this regard, we are informed that:
-- AF&PA has opened participation in its SFI to non-members and is issuing licenses to, among others, local government and NGO forest owners (e.g. St Louis County, MN, The Conservation Fund) that agree to abide by SFI performance measures and reporting requirements, and has expanded the SFI to include a Voluntary Verification Process by which member companies/licensees may apply an internationally consistent verification approach to document and communicate their conformance with the SFI standard.
-- The International Wood Products Association (IWPA), which represents a number of importing and exporting companies, has established membership-approved voluntary Codes of Conduct similar to SFI for trade in wood products and forest management.
-- As a result of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)'s work with domestic industry and private landowners to develop regional standards and criteria for forest management, today about 179 companies throughout the US carry FSC chain-of-custody certification and 52 US forest management companies are FSC-certified.
-- The National Woodland Owners Association, representing thousands of small private forest owners, has developed and is implementing a "Green Tag Forestry Program" that certifies forest management of individual ownerships.
VI. Illegal Logging
- In June 1998 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), working in cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, increased the number of ports of entry available to accept timber species listed on CITES appendices to facilitate and respond to the Appendix III listings of Swietenia Macrophylla (a high volume commercially traded mahogany) undertaken by Bolivia, Brazil and other range states.
- In 1998 USAID, through its Proarca Capas program, provided financial support to undertake studies in Central America and Mexico on the distribution and status of Swietenia Macrophylla harvesting activities, illegal logging and illegal trade.
- In January 2000, following consultations with host governments in the Mekong Delta region of Southeast Asia, as well as with international organizations, NGOs and potential donor countries, the US announced its intention of hosting a regional workshop on illegal logging and cross border trade, building on the results of the "Forest Law Enforcement" symposium sponsored by the World Bank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in June 1999.
VII. Next steps
The above actions reflect initial US efforts to carry forward the G-8 Action Program on Forests. Further work is needed in all five priority areas, particularly protected forest areas and illegal logging/trade. The role and contribution of the range of private sector interests, which are critical to improved forest management at home and abroad, also warrant greater attention.
The outcome of the Okinawa Summit in July 2000 will determine how the G-8 Action Program on Forests, which has only been in existence for less than two years, is continued as a G-8 initiative. The US strongly supports continuation of the Action Program, including a future review by Leaders on implementation. There is also value in considering a greater emphasis within the Action Program on collaborative efforts through which the G-8 can bring added value to existing endeavors to promote sustainable forest management.
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Source: The Government of Japan