High Profile for Model Forests at XII World Forestry Congress

Pioneering approach generates new interest and opportunities

Partnerships. Just about everywhere you went during the XII World Forestry Congress people were talking about partnerships as the key to sustainable forest management (SFM)—a concept model forests have been advocating and practicing for nearly 10 years. And the strong interest generated by the model forest approach was not lost on IMFN organizers.

 

“The World Forestry Congress is a unique event that, once every six years, brings the world's forestry community together to take stock of where we are and to plan for the future,” said Peter Besseau, Executive Director of the International Model Forest Network Secretariat (IMFNS). “It provides a wonderful opportunity for those who have been pioneering new and innovative approaches to meet with those who are looking for solutions to their SFM challenges. In this regard, the IMFNS is delighted with the outcome of the WFC.”

 

The IMFNS and its colleagues and partners around the world have been applying the model forest approach to SFM for the better part of a decade and, here in Quebec City, we have found a tremendous interest in what we are doing at the operational level,” added Besseau. “The WFC was more successful than we expected in terms of generating that interest, as well as in developing new opportunities for partnering with others.”

 

Relevant, timely

 

Thousands of Congress participants toured the joint International and Canadian Model Forest Networks’ exhibit and stopped to chat with attending staff. Many were not previously familiar with the model forest approach to SFM and the discovery peaked interested from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Ten IMFN representatives from Argentina, Chile, China, Thailand and Canada attended the week-long event. The venue provided an invaluable opportunity for many model forest staff, partners and practitioners from around the world to meet and exchange ideas in person for the first time.

“The personal contacts made during the WFC will serve to strengthen networking among the persons, and the model forests, concerned,” said Tang Hon Tat, Coordinator of the FAO/IMFNS Project for Asia-Pacific. “The great interest shown by so many of the other WFC participants, and the experiences and lessons learned, is a good indication of the relevance, timeliness and potential contribution of the model forest approach towards the sound and sustainable use and management of forest and land resources world-wide.”

The exhibit itself was comprised of seven in-stands, an Internet hook-up, a video display, dozens of publications, software demonstrations, success stories from each model forest, and a showcase of model forest products from around the world. Most information was provided in English, French and Spanish, the three official languages of the Congress. Exhibit messages focused on the impacts and successes of model forests as realized over the last decade. These will be made available on the IMFNS Web site in early 2004.

Branching out

The joint IMFN/CMFN side event, held the evening of September 22, was equally successful in bringing the model forest experience to a broader global audience. About 175 people—nearly double the expected number of participants—packed the room to hear about the impacts of model forests on implementing SFM policies into field-level practice

Discussion focused on the social, environmental and economic impacts of model forests as experienced in Chile, China and Canada. The invited speakers included Santiago Elmúdesi, General Manager of Chiloé Model Forest, Dr. Jiang Chunqian, Chief of the Model Forest Program in China, and Francine Dorion , Vice-president, Sustainability and Environment for Abitibi-Consolidated in Canada (a partner in the Abitibi Model Forest).

In addition, an Invited Paper by Juan Carlos Collarte, Chair of the Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (RMFC-LAC), was presented to the Congress, as were several voluntary papers submitted by model forest partners from around the world. All submissions are now available on-line.

 

Forests, Source of Life

The XII World Forestry Congress was held from September 21-28, 2003 in Quebec City, Canada under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of Canada. It attracted more than 4,000 participants from more than 140 countries, including international organizations, NGOs, industry, various levels of government, individuals and private forest-land owners, academics, environmental and scientific organizations, indigenous people and youth.

The theme of this year’s Congress, “Forests, Source of Life” reflected a vision of the future based on a balanced relationship between forests and people—a theme already integral to the model forest concept. The XIII World Forestry Congress will take place in 2009.

For more information, please contact Christa Mooney at cmooney@idrc.ca.