14 June 2017
ETFRN, FAO and World Bank Initiatives Assess Deforestation
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
story highlights

An update from the European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN) reviews a decade of efforts and increasing corporate and government commitments to reduce deforestation.

The FAO held an ‘Expert Consultation on Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA): Towards FRA 2020’.

PROFOR released Forest-SWIFT, a rapid assessment tool to complement its ‘Forestry Sourcebook’.

12 June 2017: The European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN) has released a publication analyzing industry’s progress on commitments towards zero net deforestation by 2020, while the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Bank’s multi-donor Program on Forests (PROFOR) have each reported efforts to fine-tune existing forestry assessment and monitoring tools. FAO held an ‘Expert Consultation on Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA): Towards FRA 2020,’ and PROFOR released Forest-SWIFT, a rapid assessment tool.

A recent update from the European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN) reviews a decade of efforts and increasing corporate and government commitments to reduce deforestation, such as REDD+ and commitments towards zero net deforestation adopted by some parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2008. The publication highlights diverse experiences and perspectives from 100 forestry experts and practitioners focusing on how to improve the effectiveness of zero deforestation commitments across a range of commodity value chains.

Citing one study, titled ‘Forest Trends,’ that analyzed 760 commitments to reduce deforestation in oil palm, soy, cattle, timber and pulp supply chains, made by 447 different companies, the publication notes that while there has been some progress, there is need for greater corporate transparency. It reports that information on progress made was publicly available “for only half of the tracked commitments,” and that between one-fifth and one-third of all commitments were either “dormant or delayed.”

Some the key conclusions and recommendations focus on the need to: agree on clear definitions and standards; ensure greater involvement of national and local governments in zero deforestation initiatives; demand more corporate transparency and accountability; and support smallholder empowerment as well as civil society advocacy for change.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has coordinated periodic assessments of the state of the world’s forests since 1948. In the context of various recent global commitments, including the SDGs and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030, FAO and its partners are currently discussing the scope of the next FRA in 2020. The Expert Consultation took place in Joensuu, Finland, from 12-16 June 2017. Participants were to agree on common approaches to improve and streamline global reporting on forestry-related targets and commitments by identifying synergies and easing the reporting burden on countries.

It is envisaged that the FRA will specifically feed into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) process by supplying annual data on two forestry-related targets (SDG target 15.2 on promoting the sustainable management of all types of forests, halting deforestation, restoring degraded forests and substantially increasing afforestation and reforestation globally; and SDG target 15.b on resource mobilization to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management).

The Expert Consultation is supported by the European Union, FAO, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and is organized in collaboration with the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE).

In order to build an in-depth understanding of how local communities interact with forest resources, PROFOR is spearheading efforts to complement the existing ‘Forestry Sourcebook’ with a rapid assessment tool called Forest-SWIFT (Survey of Wellbeing via Instant and Frequent Tracking). Forest-SWIFT is designed to address some of the challenges associated with the Sourcebook – which is produced every three years and relies on complex and costly household surveys – by combining statistical methods with in-person interviews and introducing tablets or smart phones for rapid data collation and analysis.

The Forest-SWIFT methodology has been piloted in Turkey, where the objective was to model poverty and forest reliance. The results highlighted the potential of forest cooperatives as a helpful tool for stemming migration, as well as the need to boost productivity and jobs in the forestry sector.” The survey findings have been aggregated into a Forest Policy Note for Turkey’s national forestry agency, and will be used to revise the country’s new five-year forest strategy.

In Argentina, efforts are underway to use Forest-SWIFT for an impact evaluation in the Chaco eco-region, an area with one of the highest poverty and deforestation rates in the country. There are also plans to apply the tool to forest and poverty data from Mozambique, and other interested countries. [ETFRN News 58 on Zero Deforestation] [FAO Press Release on FRA 2020 Expert Consultation] [FRA Website] [PROFOR Press Release on New Forest Assessment Tool]

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