“Fire Hazards, Transboundary Haze and Sustainable Forestry in East Asia and the Pacific” (IFFN No. 20 – March 1999)

World Bank Workshop

“Fire Hazards, Transboundary Haze and Sustainable Forestry in East Asia and the Pacific”

Surabaya, Indonesia, 9-12 December 1998

(IFFN No. 20 – March 1999,p. 90-91)

The workshop was organized by the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank (EDIEN) in collaboration with IC-SEA, CIFOR, ICRAF, WWF, IUCN and the ADB, and co-financed by AUSAID and the Government of the Netherlands. The main objectives of this workshop were:

  • an analysis of the basic, structural sources of the problem of land use, forest burning and land degradation;

  • a better understanding of the long-term impacts of fires on resource degradation including forests, biodiversity and water;

  • the provision of information to assist key decision-makers and opinion leaders to better recognize and respond to the need for national policy and institutional reforms to address long-term forest sector problems;

  • to go beyond Indonesia to the regional dimensions of the problem with a view to fostering regional cooperation on environmental security;

  • to develop a network of policy makers and researchers–a community of practice–to enable the sharing of international experiences on policy and technological options for forest fire management and to foster collaborative research on these issues; and

  • to identify the scope for regional follow up based on the workshop discussions.

As was envisaged at the time of designing the agenda, the deliberations of the workshop went beyond the issue of forest fires into the various aspects of sustainable forestry in Indonesia and in the East Asia region. Top-notch resource persons coupled with knowledgeable and enthusiastic participants ensured very high level discussions that translated into concrete policy recommendations. The recommendations of the discussion groups were the following:

Social Issues

The group examining the social issues related to sustainable forestry identified several constraints to successful forest management. An indicative list is – (a) lack of clarity of tenure; (b) lack of integrated land use planning; (c) inequitable distribution of costs and benefits and lack of proper incentives; (d) lack of community participation in critical decision-making; (e) failure to use traditional knowledge; (f) lack of an enabling legal framework; (g) corruption and lack of transparency; and (h) lack of political will.

The key recommendations of the group are as follows:

  • collection organization and dissemination of reliable data;

  • integration of data into a comprehensive land-use strategy;

  • develop mediation and negotiation skills to involve different stakeholders in forest management;

  • use mass media to promote awareness and public consultations;

  • capacity building at the local community level and greater role for the community; and

  • designation of a lead agency for forest management and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of other agencies.

Technical and Ecological Issues

The group examining the technical and ecological issues related to sustainable forestry identified the following four constraints to sustainable forest management: (i) inadequate / inappropriate land use planning, (ii) inadequate forest resource management plans and their enforcement, (iii) inadequacy or lack of information exchange, awareness and education, and (iv) inadequate environmental monitoring. The key recommendations of the group are as follows:

  • development of land use plans based on land capability determined through scientific assessments in consultation with stakeholders;

  • development and implementation of management plans for all categories of forests, internal and external monitoring of forest management based on standard and acceptable sustainability criteria;

  • development of fire risk assessments and early warning systems;

  • enabling policies and legislation to ensure institutionalized free flow of information and data within various agencies in the sector, between related sector within the country, among countries of the region and international institutions;

  • development and institutionalized implementation of comprehensive education and awareness programs pertaining to fire and haze, transboundary atmospheric pollution, soil erosion, water pollution, etc.;

  • removing institutional inadequacies in the issuance of business activity permits without due considerations of environmental impact assessment;

  • remove conflicting policies and implement enabling legislation;

  • reform forestry bureaucracy and define clear responsibilities;

  • promote transparency and public consultation;

  • promote donor coordination, collaboration and cooperation; and

  • foster the political will and the commitment to make hard choices.

Economic Issues

The group examining the economic issues related to sustainable forestry identified the following three main constraints to sustainable forest management: (a) policy distortions in the forestry sector; (b) policy distortions outside the sector but exerting a strong influence in forestry; and (c) lack of regional coordination among forest-rich countries. The main recommendations proposed by the group were:

  • formulation of clearly articulated national land use policies specifically demarcating the areas of production, conservation and conversion forests;

  • formulation of a national forest management strategy/plan incorporating technical and policy aspects related to forest harvesting, timber pricing, forest charges, timber trade, ecolabeling, and certification;

  • environmental impact assessment must be mandatory and comprehensive for all projects;

  • identification of the national and regional policy gaps by sharing information and experiences across countries in the region; and

  • ensure that the impacts of policies outside the forestry sector (exchange rate, industrialization, agriculture expansion, etc.) do not have undesirable repercussions in forestry.

The detailed report is available on the World Bank file on the Global fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) website.

For further details please contact either:


Carlos E. Bertao
Senior Operations Officer Environment and Natural Resources Division
World Bank Institute
Fax: ++1-202-676-0977
e-mail: cbertao@worldbank.org or Nalin Kishor
Natural Resource Economist Fax: ++1-202-676-0977
e-mail: nkishor@worldbank.org

IFFN No. 20


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