The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was held at the Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun from October 26-28, 2023. A press release on the forum was issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
During the meeting, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Labour, and Employment underlined the importance of forest fire prevention, post-fire restoration, and forest certification as essential tools for sustainable forest management.
In his video message at the UNFF, the Minister stressed the significant impact of forest fires, which not only cause irreversible damage to the environment but also affect the livelihoods of communities residing near forests. Forest fires pose a considerable threat to both flora and fauna, making their prevention and control a matter of utmost importance.
He emphasized that forest certification plays a pivotal role in promoting the sustainability of forests, but this tool presents specific challenges, especially for small-scale producers in developing countries. To address these challenges, India has initiated its national forest certification scheme.
The Union Minister called for collective efforts to build a sustainable future that is equitable, just, and resilient. During the meeting, Director of UNFF emphasized the global concern over forest fires and their adverse effects on ecosystems and communities. She noted that the second theme for the Country Led Initiative (CLI) focuses on forest certification, a long-standing topic for discussion, and now calls for actionable solutions.
Over 80 delegates from 40 countries and 20 international organizations, including the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), participated in the program, both in person and online.
The CLI of this forum centers on two thematic areas: forest fires/wildfires and best practices for their prevention and restoration in fire-affected areas, as well as forest certification and sustainable forest management. Forest fires and wildfires have seen an increase in scale and duration, leading to a need for collaborative action to prevent, reduce their impacts, and restore the affected land.
Forest certification, on the other hand, has gained global attention, with a notable increase in certified forest areas. However, developing countries and marginalized forest managers still face challenges with the certification process.
The Forum spanned two days of discussions on these thematic areas and included sessions on integrated fire management, the Global Fire Management Hub, and Forest Certification and Sustainable Forest Management with participation from various countries and international organizations. Delegates also had the opportunity to engage in cultural programs and a field trip to Rajaji National Park.
The Forum’s outcomes will be summarized by the Co-chairs and submitted for consideration at the 19th session of UNFF, scheduled for May 2024 at the United Nations headquarters.