The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is the pre-eminent international body dealing with agriculture and forestry issues. The FAO has three main roles in information gathering and dissemination, program supervision and policy development.
The FAO Forestry Department produces a wide variety of reports on forestry issues ranging from technical papers and case studies, analysis of data and policy papers. It also supervises on-the-ground program activities, particularly in developing countries. The activities involve new research, the applications of existing research, provision of training and promoting better or alternative approaches to forest management. The FAO provides a forum for policy discussions on forestry issues through the FAO Committee on Forestry and the six Regional Forestry Commissions that report to the committee.
The Australian Government participates as a member in the FAO Committee on Forestry and in the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, our region’s Regional Forestry Commission.
The department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry also actively contributes to the forest data collection and reporting activities of the FAO, in addition to contributing to the regular FAO Global Forest Resource Assessments.
FAO Committee on Forestry
The FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) is a decision-making forum that brings together member countries to help guide the FAO’s extensive forest-related work programme. It is the highest FAO forestry statutory body and reports to FAO Council.
The biennial sessions of COFO, held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, bring together government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, seek solutions and advise FAO and others on appropriate action. Other international organisations and, increasingly, non-governmental groups, participate in COFO. Participation in COFO is open to all FAO member countries.
Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission
Established in 1949, the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) is one of six FAO Regional Forestry Commissions that report directly to COFO. The APFC considers issues such as the state of forestry in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on approaches that recognise and maximise the contribution of forests and trees to food security, sustainable livelihoods and eradication of poverty. The APFC meet every two years to review progress, discuss emerging issues and set new agendas. The objectives of the APFC are to:
- provide advice on forest policy formulation
- review and coordinate implementation of forest policy at the regional level
- exchange information on suitable practices and solutions for technical problems and
- develop and support appropriate recommendations for member governments and the FAO
The APFC is made up of 34 member countries, mostly from east Asia and the west Pacific.
Australia’s ongoing engagement with the APFC ensures the Australian Government’s forestry policy is properly represented in the Asia-Pacific region. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry traditionally represent Australia at the APFC.
The most recent session (29th session) was hosted virtually on 22–25 February 2022 by Mongolia. Australia will host the 30th session of the APFC in the third quarter of 2023.
Meeting reports provide a summary of the recommendations made in the sessions, as well as regional issues identified by the Commission for the attention of the FAO Committee on Forestry.