TFAP started as a set of guidelines in 1985. Co-sponsored by World Bank, World Resources Institute, United Nations Development Program, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), TFAP provides a strategy for conserving tropical forests and lays out a framework for action by governments and development organizations. Its main objectives are to protect special areas for ecosystem and wildlife value, as well as genetic resources; to promote and improve sustainable forest management; and to develop partnerships with local people.
For the last five years TFAP, which is coordinated by FAO, has been the catalyst for directing resources and guiding developing nations toward a solution. Because most of this work has been in the planning and policy areas, there's been little progress in reducing actual deforestation. In 1990, several reports critical of the plan were released by the World Rainforest Movement, the World Resources Institute, and by FAO itself through an independent review. The following major deficiencies of TFAP were identified:
This assessment reflects widespread agreement that TFAP has not met its original objectives and needs to be restructured. Over the past year, FAO has responded favorably to the above criticisms as a result of considerable pressure from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and donor governments concerned with the urgency of halting tropical deforestation.
For example, the U.S. State Department is withholding $500,000 appropriated for TFAP until (1) "tfap has been reorganized, with an international steering committee and secretariat independent of the food and agriculture organization, (2) the responsibilities of tfap have been broadened to include areas outside the forestry sector, and (3) procedures exist to ensure increased participation in national tfap plans by affected populations...."
In March 1991, TFAP's co-sponsors held a meeting with broad-based participation in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to discuss a restructuring of TFAP. It was the beginning of a consensus-building process toward a more decentralized TFAP. The Geneva meeting and follow-up discussions with its participants have led to various proposals that have yet to be finalized. Some of the proposed changes include the following:
Many more details concerning funding, CG membership, finalizing objectives, and developing partnerships among actors will emerge from continued consensus building until final plans for a restructured TFAP are released later this year.
For more information:
FAO Liaison Office for North America
1001 22nd St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20437, U.S.A.
Tel. (202) 653-2400
Fax (202) 653-5760
Tropical Forestry Program
World Wildlife Fund and The Conservation Foundation
Washington, D.C. 20037 U.S.A.
Tel. (202) 778-9511
Fax (202) 293-9211