ANNOUNCEMENT - IMFNS and Regional Partners Launch the Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

SANTIAGO CHILE, OCTOBER 15, 2002 - Following 18 months of consultation and development, the International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS) and its regional partners have established the Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (RMFC-LAC) in Santiago, Chile. The RMFC-LAC is the first of its kind, and its launch is a landmark event reflecting the relevance and strong potential for continued expansion of the Model Forest approach to sustainable forest management (SFM) in the region.

Founding partners in the RMFC-LAC include Argentina, Canada (the Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA), Chile, the Dominican Republic, IMFNS, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The RMFC-LAC will be housed at the UNDP country office for Chile. The three-year program, valued at approximately $US2 million, will focus on support for existing model forests and the development of new sites within the region.

Model Forests are unique partnership-based approaches aimed at translating sustainable forest management policy into practice. Since its launch in Canada in 1992, the Model Forest approach to sustainable forest management has found widespread acceptance around the world as a valuable instrument for all aspects of SFM ¾ from forest practices to economic development, from biodiversity protection to integrated management based upon inclusive partnerships. "The strong and steady growth in the network since 1992 has made it necessary to develop strategies for more effective participation of its members" says Peter Besseau, Acting Executive Director of the IMFNS. "The regional centre marks a very appropriate evolution in the IMFNS' development in that it will enable regional partners to more effectively participate in matters of governance, financing, definition of the work program, and strengthening networking activities in ways that respond more immediately to the circumstances and needs of the region."

The RMFC-LAC will be governed by a Board of Directors comprised of country and institutional supporters. Its Chairman, Mr. Juan Carlos Collarte of Chile, has been strongly associated with the MF program for several years, having pioneered its introduction in Chile in 1996. Mr. Collarte is convinced of the potential impact of the MF approach: "Model Forests are a proven life-size tool that effectively address the preservation of the environment and, at the same time, the economic development of the local communities involved. There are precious few institutional arrangements that can do both, and as such it is a valuable contribution towards sorting out the dilemma of development versus environment that permeates much of the present discussion on social and economic issues".

The IMFNS will work closely with the RMFC-LAC as it comes on-line over the coming year. It will also continue to work actively with RMFC-LAC staff to facilitate technical and networking links between the LAC region and the rest of the global network.

The IMFNS supports the maintenance and growth of the international network and works as an advocate and technical resource agency for network members. It is housed at Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and is supported by IDRC, CIDA, Natural Resources Canada/Canadian Forest Service (NRCan/CFS), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

Please see the related backgrounder on RMFC-LAC.

Mr. Peter Besseau
Acting Executive Director
IMFNS
Pbesseau@idrc.ca
http://www.imfn.net