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Kyushu-Okinawa Summit 2000

Report on The Implementation of The G8 Action Programme on Forests

Okinawa, July 21, 2000

Progress Report

I. Introduction

G8 Action programme on forests was adopted on May 9, 1998, at the G8 Foreign Minister meeting, and endorsed by the Head of States at the Birmingham Summit. The following describes the French progresses regarding the commitments taken.

France considers that the sustainable use and management of natural resources is of utmost importance. In forestry, a long tradition has learnt lessons, on which have been elaborated laws and regulations, but also management practices.

The G8 commitments focused on specific actions, reported below, although they are only a part of a whole, to be considered, and dealt with, in a holistic way.

II. Monitoring and assessment

* monitoring :
The French Forest Health Department which is exactly 10 years old, is made of a core of foresters specialised in forest protection leading a network of 240 correspondents belonging to the different forest management organisations : National Forest Agency (ONF), private ownership organisations (CRPF), and other public services.

They collect yearly about 4,000 individual records of damage caused by insect pests and diseases as well as a abiotic factors. This information is stored in a data base.

In addition, crown condition is assessed yearly since 1989 within the systematic 16x16 km (Level I) Network built at European level (EU + 17 other countries). This represents 540 plots and 10,800 trees which are monitored individually.

The relevant results and assessments are published in the annual report: "The health of French Forests (France) in ...).".

These monitoring activities are intended to depict not only the current forest condition, but also possible trends, as related to environmental factors, including airborne pollution, monitored by other organisations.

A second permanent network is the RENECOFOR Network, made of 100 plots and implemented by ONF as the French part of the pan-European intensive monitoring (Level II) Network of more than 800 plots distributed throughout 30 countries.

This network, set up in 1992 for a 30 year-period, is aimed at detecting possible long-term changes in a wide range of ecosystems and determining the causes of these changes.

A large number of core parameters is measured in each plot : crown condition, soil and foliage chemistry, growth, ground vegetation, litter fall. Atmospheric deposition (in open field and below canopy), meteorology and soil solution chemistry are monitored in subsamples, on 27, 26 and 17 plots respectively.

* assessment :
Most of data are provided by IFN (Inventaire Forestier National), the National Forest Inventory.
It has been set up gradually between 1960 and 1970, first as part of the Forest Service (Ministry of Agriculture). It was then transformed into a public agency, with its board and independent budget.

The main purpose of the Forest Inventory is to depict the distribution of types of land use and land cover.
It produces diverse data and maps, and firstly, "departement" booklets including a general description, and many tables of the main inventory results. These results are analysed, and compared with the previous inventories.

Implementing the commitments of the G8 Heads of States, a particular attention has been brought to FRA 2000, with the publication of a special booklet, gathering required data, with many added comments. Several meetings have been organised, between different countries and FAO representatives to harmonise definitions understandings, and methods as far as possible due to the diversity of backgrounds.

What are the main improvements in progress ?

1. discontinuation of aerial photography in favour of satellite images. The advantages will involve some loss of detail until very high resolution images become available from the SPOT 5 satellite (expected to be launched around 2005)

2. replacement of the statistical estimations derived from sampling theory by "spatialised" estimations.

In addition to these major developments a lot of improvements to procedures are being studied or applied, e.g. :

a) photo digitalisation, or direct digitalisation ;
b) transfer of applications for the measurement database to a customer server;
c) partial automation of the drafting of "departement" inventory publications;
d) in situ capture of ground data using portable input terminals;
e) replacement of topographical traverses to the sample plots with satellite guided assistance provided by GPS.

III. National Forest Programmes

The G8 members committed themselves to promote sustainable forest management though, inter allia, defining and implementing national forest programmes (n. f. p.).

21 - Forest act :
A forest act has been adopted and implemented since 1827. Of course many amendments and additions has been made in the original text.

It was obvious that the G8 commitments had to be translated into a "text at the top", namely in the "Forest Code".

An important work has been initiated. The first part is a preamble, referring to the sustainable management of forests, as an addition to the three classical objectives : economic, ecological and social functions of forests. We expect to achieve this preliminary work to mature a project, for consideration of the Parliament as soon as possible, and hopefully during winter 1999 or spring 2000.

22 - Forestry and rural development :
In the European region, there is a long tradition in regulations, laws and also applications on the ground, aiming at improving forest management towards sustainability. The focus on yield shifted, step by step, to include environmental and social aspects. This later aspect is also stressed by an E.U. process targeted on rural development.

It is therefore a unique opportunity to revisit the forest programme, and improve the dialogue and the co-operation with other actors.

As outcome of this dialogue, a 60 page report includes :

The broad dialogue was a valuable opportunity for forest managers and representatives of many ministries and sectors to be better known and understood, and vice versa.

Two main ideas:

- the maintenance of rural areas through a balanced management ;
- the creation of employment.

23 - Forestry strategy
Define a national forest programme implies a consensus on the medium and long term objectives.

A broad consultation with our usual partners took place under the aegis of the French " Committee 21 ". As outcome of this wide and open discussion was produced a document, entitled "French Forestry Strategy". The draft is currently being circulated within diverse ministries and regions.

An Internet Forum has also been opened, to encourage transparency and public awareness and participation to the provision and the contents of this document.

IV. Protected areas

The G8 commitment reinforced the primacy of such a topic. France is actively involved in two current and active processes :

- The Ministerial Conferences on the Protection of Forests in Europe, with a special focus on biodiversity (Strasbourg Conference Resolution S 2 and EUFORGEN project).
- The Natura 2000 network : this network will include many "reserves", with diverse status of protection. The implementation of the E.U. regulation raised many discussions and even conflicts. These conflicts are being solved, one after the other, while designing "target documents".

In addition, several research projects have been launched, to improve the knowledge and common understanding in this field, e.g. COST E4, aiming at collecting the data on existing reserves and protected areas, including diverse status of protection.

V. Private Sector

In France, forest is more than 70 % private owned. The private sector plays therefore a major role, not only in term of ownership, production of goods and services, and management, but also as the unique actor in wood logging and processing.

Since a law, adopted in 1963, a management plan is mandatory for any property exceeding 25 ha. These documents are prepared by the owners themselves, taking into account regional orientations. Then the document is discussed and approved by the owner representatives, between themselves, the State representative having only a veto right.

The new forestry act in progress (cf *2) proposes to lower to 10 ha the threshold for the obligation of a mandatory management plan.

Codes of conduct :
The G8 meeting stressed the interest of the involvement of the private sector, taken in a broad sense, to make a greater contribution in securing sustainable forest management.

In this context, an initiative has been taken by forest owners, then jointly with other private partners, in France and, step by step, with other countries, to define a Pan European Forest Certification (PEFC) framework. This voluntary tool is intended to defining in the diverse European conditions what means sustainable forest management, and at the same time, to establishing the foundation for the mutual recognition of certification systems, under a condition of compliance vis à vis some common basic principles.

VI. Illegal logging

Logging is, in France, under strict control.

In public as well as in private forests the management planning defines the felling permitted. France has a limited territory, and a high population density, so that most of offenders are rapidly discovered and prosecuted.

The tentative work on conditions for certification of sustainable management of forests is also an initiative directed towards discouraging illegal logging. However in a country with very small properties and small processes units, the chain of custody is difficult to be set up with safety.

It might be helpful for imported timber, if it appears reliable.

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