“The idea is to use these examples of responsible forest management to help chart a course for improved management of forestry resources across the entire Latin American and Caribbean region,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) senior forestry officer Carlos Marx Carneiro told the 24th meeting of the agency’s Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. According to FAO statistics, over the 1990-2005 period the region’s forest area declined from 51 per cent to 47 per cent of total land area, primarily due to conversion of forest land to agriculture.Yet despite this grim picture painted by these figures, both forestry authorities and FAO experts say there are numerous examples of sound programmes in which people are succeeding in effectively managing forests, and the benefits of forestry are being shared among local communities.“Looking at these examples of excellence in forest management gives us a much more accurate picture,” Mr. Carneiro said. “The destruction of tropical forests is not the whole story. We know from field experience and reports that in many places in Latin America and the Caribbean forests are being managed well – yet these successes are often not acknowledged.”Through the initiative, government institutions, private sector companies, local communities, and individuals are being invited to nominate examples of successful forestry management programmes. These will then be carefully screened and analyzed by an inter-regional panel of experts, with some 25 to 30 programmes covering a wide range of topics ultimately being selected for in-depth study.These analytical and prescriptive case studies will be collected in a book slated for publication in 2009. The initiative follows the publication in 2005 of a similar book on forestry in the Asia-Pacific region, which became the most popular forestry publication in the history of FAO’s regional office there.
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