Guest post by Howard Rosen
U.S. Forest Service Volunteer
Society of Wood Science & Technology Representative, RNRF Board of Directors
Mike Maurer from Switzerland plays the alphorn. Nasser Makhoul, stringed wooden instrument player and maker, and Antoine Dawlatly, wooden drum player, both from Lebanon, provide musical accompaniment.
Nearly 3900 participants from 138 countries met at the WFC in Durban, South Africa from September 7-11, 2015 to attend this major forestry meeting. Held once every six years and sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this was the first time ever that the WFC was held in the African region. The meeting had many technical sessions, special side events, and an exhibition area with over 60 exhibitors.
Carvers from South Africa
The Congress offered the following vision for forests and forestry as a contribution to achieving a sustainable future to 2050 and beyond:
- Forests are more than trees and are fundamental for food security and improved livelihoods. The forests of the future will increase the resilience of communities by: providing food, wood energy, shelter, fodder and fiber; generating income and employment to allow communities and societies to prosper; and harboring biodiversity. They will support sustainable agriculture and human wellbeing by stabilizing soils and climate and regulating water flows.
- Integrated approaches to land use provide a way forward for improving policies and practices to: address the drivers of deforestation; address conflicts over land use; capitalize on the full range of economic, social and environmental benefits of integrating forests with agriculture; and maintain multiple forest services in the landscape context.
- Forests are an essential solution to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Sustainably managed forests will increase the resilience of ecosystems and societies and optimize the role of forests and trees in absorbing and storing carbon while also providing other environmental services.
Since climate change poses a serious threat to forests and forest-dependent people, and there is a risk that actions will fall short of what is required, this area of concern was a specific emphasis of this Congress. Congress participants recommend the following actions:
- Increase understanding of climate change among governments and other stakeholders, paying particular attention to forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples.
- Promote partnerships and South–South exchanges to benefit from existing and increasing experience and knowledge on adaptation and mitigation actions on the ground, ensuring that forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples are fully involved.
- Increase understanding of the challenges and opportunities for governments and other stakeholders in addressing climate change, and encourage them to address these in the wider context of sustainable development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Continue increasing the availability and quality of information to assist policymakers in decision-making and help practitioners meet multiple climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives.
- Encourage the assessment and communication of progress in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including through more coordinated and effective mobilization of diverse financial resources.
The delegates to the WFC realized that these visions will require new partnerships among the forest, agriculture, finance, energy, water and other sectors, and engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities. This call for action should be supported through multi-stakeholder participation, and by engaging youth and attracting ever-larger numbers to the forest sector.
For more information about the WFC, visit http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/world-forestry-congress/en/.