New Finnish-UN partnership aims to help developing countries protect forests

27 March 2009 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of Finland have launched a new four-year, €14 million programme aimed at helping developing countries protect their forest resources and tackle climate change.

The “Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Climate” programme also seeks to improve forest data collection and analysis as well as management skills in selected developing countries for sustainable forest management, according to a news release issued by FAO.

“FAO is very grateful to the Finnish Government for having the foresight to realise just how important this work is and for providing the financial, technical and political support to carry it out,” said Jan Heino, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Forestry.

“It is vital that we strengthen the information base for sustainable forest management so that developing countries are able to manage their trees and forests based on timely and reliable information,” he said.

Three to six pilot countries will be selected in the coming weeks to participate in the programme.

According to the FAO, sustainable forest management could become a means of creating millions of ‘green’ jobs, thus helping to reduce poverty and improve the environment. Since forests and trees are vital storehouses of carbon, such an investment would also make a major contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“The Finnish contribution will allow FAO to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to gather information on forest resources and land-use change, forest uses and users and to formulate more consistent land-use and livelihoods policies not only to reduce an important cause of climate change but also to mitigate its impacts,” stated Jim Carle, Chief of FAO’s Forest Resources Development Service.

The recently published FAO State of the World’s Forests 2009 report found that 7.3 million hectares of forests were lost every year between 2000 and 2005. In addition, the global economic crisis has led to a decrease in demand for wood, shrinking investments in forest industries and forest management.

Around 18 per cent of global CO2 emissions stem from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, a figure comparable to the total annual carbon dioxide emissions of the United States and China, according to the agency.

FAO is one of three UN agencies – along with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) – that form the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) initiative, designed to combat climate change through creating incentives to reverse the trend of deforestation.


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