Convention on Biological Diversity Celebrates 10 Years

May 22, 2004, marked International Day for Biological Diversity and the 10th anniversary of the Convention it honours. This year’s theme is “Food, Water and Health for All.”


Adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was the first global agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Over the last decade, the Conference of the Parties, the body governing the Convention, has initiated work on five thematic programs it considers critical to achieving the goals set out in the CBD. One of these themes is the conservation and sustainable use of forest ecosystems. 


An ecosystem approach to conserving forest resources


In 1998, the Conference of the Parties recognized that an ecosystem approach—a strategy for integrated forest management that promotes forest conservation and sustainable use in an equitable manner—was the most appropriate way to conserve forest resources. Model forests have advocated, supported and used this approach for more than a decade.


“An ecosystem or landscape-level approach is the scale at which model forests operate,” said IMFNS Executive Director, Peter Besseau. “This approach presents its own challenges, but is absolutely necessary if we want to capture all of the forest resource values, their interactions, and the stakeholder dynamics both in real time and in real terms.


Protected areas: important model forest partners


About two-thirds of all model forests count national parks, protected or conservation areas as active partners. Their experience shows that by representing all of the forests’ uses and values, model forests can contribute to conservation efforts in significant and sustainable ways.


One example is the Western Formosa Model Forest, situated within the semi-arid Parque Chaqueño, that also includes the 10 000 ha Formosa Natural Reserve and the 15 000 hectare Teuquito Multi-Purpose Reserve.

Because the Parque Chaqueño possesses unique characteristics that cannot be found elsewhere in the world, including some animals that are listed in the CITES as species threatened with extinction, biological conservation is extremely important in the region.

However, a key sustainable development issue in this semi-arid region is the availability of an adequate volume of high-quality water. In the past, forestry activities in the region tended toward non-sustainable, selective extraction, resulting in the gradual impoverishment and degradation of the region's forested areas. Poor livestock management and grazing on new forest growth has also hindered proper forest regeneration and contributed to an increase in desertification.

Over the last two years, the model forest has been successful in consolidating a participatory planning process for sustainable ecosystem management, with special attention to the conservation of biodiversity. It has also been instrumental in the creation of nurseries for native forest species. A key goal now is to diversify the area's economic activities in order to provide food security to its communities and further reduce the threat to local forests.


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