News from the UN: Report on the FAO/ITTO International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management, ANNEX 3 (IFFN No. 24 – April 2001,)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Report on the
FAO/ITTO International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management
Rome, Italy, 7-9 March 2001

(IFFN No. 24 – April 2001, 78-98)


Report of Working Group 1:

Human Resources Development, Strengthening Institutional Capacity and Mechanisms for International Cooperation in Forest Fire Management

The working group addressed issues, constraints and recommended actions to strengthen existing mechanisms, networks and institutional capacity (including human resource development) to enhance cooperation and collaboration in forest fire management at bilateral, regional and international levels. The role of national, regional and international agencies were taken into consideration.

Working Group 1 – Members

Goldammer, J.G. (Germany)
Moore, P.F. (IUCN/WWF)
Musa, S. (Malaysia)
Pontani, D. (Italy)
Stocks, B. J. (Canada)
Troensegaard, J. (Denmark) Viana Soares, R. (Brazil)
Xanthopoulos, G. (Greece)
Efransjah (ITTO)
Sène, E. H. (FAO, Director, FOR)
Palmberg-Lerche, C. (FAO, Chief, FORM)
Carle, J. B. (FAO, FORM)

Observer (part time)

Mr. Dario Morini (see Footnote 8)

Key Issues Addressed – What?

  • The number, scale and impact of forest and vegetation fires had increased in recent times. With negative impacts on livelihoods, human health, biodiversity, forest services and possibly climate change;
  • The existing national organisations and international mechanisms, some of them with significant experience, had struggled to address the problems and complexities of forest fire management; and
  • Much of the work and effort of reviews, missions, studies and international structures had not translated effectively into meaningful and sustained improvement in the management of forest fire around the world.

Major Constraints and Challenges – Why?

Some of the main reasons identified for the above situation were:

  • Lack of national fire policy and its implementation, and lack of recognition and compliance with related international processes and conventions;
  • Low level of awareness among policy makers, decision makers and the public, which led to inadequately resourced institutions lacking adequate focus and capacity;
  • Insufficient human resource capability in most aspects of forest fire management due to inadequate education and training;
  • Existing information and experience was not well known, effectively distributed, understood or socialised (e.g: early warning systems, use of prescribed fire);
  • Fire statistics had not always supported meaningful analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative information and data, which was relevant and useful was required.

Recommended Actions – How to overcome?

FAO/ITTO were requested to support the work with relevant agencies as set out in the following points:

  • Information be made available on techniques, networks, resources, collaboration and approaches to fire management;
  • Develop a data standard that addresses the requirements of national and international fire management reporting needs within the Forest Resources Assessment framework;
  • Facilitate networking and collaboration between countries through identifying or creating national focal points;
  • Exchange experience through institutional twinning;
  • Review ongoing activities in forest fire management by international and regional organisations to clarify linkages, facilitate collaboration and to identify gaps. Key factors being land use policies and practices, knowledge, training, public awareness, institutional arrangements;
  • Identify relevant existing policy level Agreements, mechanisms and networks which could support and strengthen commitment and action on forest fire management;
  • Support activities that bring local people, professionals and policy makers together and build awareness and capacity;
  • Synthesise and support the preparation of country profiles that provide international collaborators and donors and insight into institutional set up, operational responsibilities, and provide basic information without which outside assistance will not be effective or even possible. Aspects to include: political will, governance, security, socio-economic, climate, vegetation, demography, resources (personnel, equipment, funds, information and infrastructure);
  • Improve capacity and capability to prepare for forest fires, particularly for countries that have existing gaps in these attributes such as laws, policy, plans, practices and monitoring; and
  • FAO strengthen its regular programme activities in the field of forest fires through appointment of a full time Forest Fire Officer at FAO Headquarters.

Collaborating agencies (co-ordinating with existing initiatives and mechanisms) – Who?

Noting that a large number of institutes, agencies and mechanisms were active in the field of forest fires, operating at various levels and with different foci, scope, and level of resources, FAO and ITTO, together with partners should discuss and review forest fire-related initiatives, activities and arrangements. These included, among others;

International agencies and organizations, such as:

  • WHO
  • UNEP
  • UN University
  • UN/ECE Trade Division
  • World Bank
  • IUCN
  • WWF
  • GFMC

International mechanisms, such as:

  • UNFF and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests
  • Interagency Task Force for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Working Group on Wildland Fire
  • OCHA

Regional mechanisms or policy frameworks, such as:

  • Regional Forestry Commissions coordinated by FAO
  • Silva Mediterranea
  • ECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire
  • Baltic Fire

Scheduling and Cost Estimates

The Group recognised the need to develop a time scale for recommended priority action, and to develop corresponding cost estimates or approximations, the Group requested that FAO, in collaboration with ITTO and other international partners, develop a provisional framework plan for further discussion and elaboration.


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