Annual Report 1998

This year was an important one for IUFRO’s Special Programme for Developing Countries (IUFRO-SPDC) as it celebrated its 15th anniversary. During the 1981 IUFRO World Congress in Kyoto, Japan, IUFRO was formally requested in the Congress Declaration to undertake activity in "...strengthening research related to forest resources in developing countries". Accordingly, in 1983, IUFRO-SPDC was created and, since then, has always been co-located with the Secretariat in Vienna. Initial funding was provided by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, together with critical assistance from a few other agencies and institutions.

IUFRO-SPDC’s Evolving Strategy
Under founding Coordinator Oscar Fugalli the SPDC focused on identifying research needs and priorities on a regional basis: Several workshops were organized in Asia, Africa and Latin America. With evolving world concerns SPDC’s mission has broadened over the years from a focus on tropical developing countries to one to expand and foster forestry research capacity in developing and economically disadvantaged countries.

Thus, IUFRO-SPDC seeks to foster and assist the activities of IUFRO through special-purpose projects and activities in collaboration with forestry research and donor agencies of the international community. As part of IUFRO’s global network of forestry research institutions, IUFRO-SPDC has a comparative advantage in bringing target-country scientists into collaborative research planning, training, and information exchange with their counterparts in other countries. IUFRO-SPDC not only implements projects but also acts as a catalyst to initiate, promote and foster ideas and working relationships. Its goals are revised and updated based on an evaluation processes that relies heavily on feedback from cooperators and clients.

As IUFRO-SPDC looks toward the future, it intends to continue to refine and enlarge its efforts to expand and foster forestry research capacity in developing and economically disadvantaged countries. The team of IUFRO-SPDC will take all efforts to ensure that the Programme will develop as successfully as in the past and that it will have a bright and viable future.

Capacity Building in Africa
IUFRO-SPDC is trying to play a leading role in creating the enabling environment for national forestry research institutions to upgrade the skills of professional foresters in Africa and to sustainably manage African forests and their resources. IUFRO-SPDC’s approach to help achieve this goal has been to appoint a special coordinator who is familiar with the situation in Africa and let him identify, in the region proper, the specific needs for forestry research capacity building, information, collaboration and networking expressed by scientists in the region.

With the help of Danida, IUFRO-SPDC since mid-1998 has a Deputy Coordinator for Africa, Dr. Atse Yapi, who represents IUFRO-SPDC concerns in Africa. His office is co-located with the Forestry Group of FAO, at their Regional Office for Africa in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Yapi works to foster IUFRO-SPDC’s training and networking efforts in the region both by intensifying contacts and cooperation with other organizations and by organizing and supporting SPDC activities in Africa.

IUFRO-SPDC’s Deputy Coordinator for Africa (DCA) has focused his efforts on the following areas: (1) Partnership development within Sub-Saharan Africa, (2) Training workshops, (3) Scientist Assistance, (4) Forestry research capacity assessment, and (5) implementation of several of the elements outlined in the FORNESSA project in cooperation with AAS. FAO, and IFS.

The DCA has taken steps to foster a close working relationship with FORAFRI. FORAFRI Network is a regional forestry research project funded by France and executed by CIFOR and CIRAD (Centre de cooperation International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement). It has a strong emphasis on scientific information dissemination, an area of interest to IUFRO-SPDC as well. This resulted in three concrete outputs: (1) IUFRO-SPDC’s DCA was invited by CIFOR and CIRAD as a resource person to participate in the second Technical and Scientific Committee meeting of FORAFRI held in Yaoundé, Cameroon in July 1998; (2) IUFRO-SPDC participated in and contributed financially to the planning of the October 1998 FORAFRI symposium in Libreville by sponsoring three forestry research scientists; (3) The FORAFRI Series (bibliographical country reports) is shared with IUFRO-SPDC's Office for Africa; and (4) A IUFRO-SPDC/CIRAD-Forêt joint training workshop is currently being planned to be held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Another highlight from this past year was our co-organization of a joint "Strategic Planning Workshop and Network Planning Session" with the African Academy of Sciences, the International Foundation for Science in November in Harare, Zimbabwe. IUFRO-SPDC organized a two-day intensive course, 23-24 on Strategic Planning using our training modules. Dr. Grant Milne led the course that targeted at scientists and research managers from African developing countries to improve their background in strategic planning prior to the development of a strategic plan for the African Academy of Sciences network which held its planning session immediately following the training session. Participants used the skills learned in strategic planning to develop the concept for the network and its first subject area topics. After consideration of more than 20 topics the group prioritized the first three for initial implementation. These are (1) community-based forest management; (2) natural forest management and biodiversity; and (3) reforestation/rehabilitation of degraded and saline areas. Further reports on the discussions at these session will be posted on the IUFRO-SPDC web site.

We also worked extensively on preparations for a 4-day training course on "Project and Human Resources Management" (4 days) held just after the Division 6 meeting in January 1999 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Capacity Building in Asia
BIOTechnology Assisted REFORestation Project (BIO-REFOR): In 1991, IUFRO-SPDC began the BIO-REFOR project based on the generous financial support of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and strong technical support of IUFRO-JAPAN. This partnership has continued to grow and flourish over the years and the proceedings of the annual workshop clearly show substantial progress towards the overall objective of establishing the techniques needed to rehabilitate degraded forest lands in the Asia-Pacific region. All IUFRO-SPDC Coordinators have worked closely and with great comradery with their counterpart in Japan, currently Dr. Kazuo Suzuki of the University of Tokyo, responsible for the coordination this project.

Early in November 1998, the 7th Annual International Conference of the BIOtechnology assisted REFORestation project was held in Manila, Philippines. This joint conference between the BIO-REFOR Project and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) was hosted by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, and sponsored by JSPS, BIO-REFOR, and IUFRO-SPDC.

IUFRO-SPDC Coordinator Dr. Robert C. Szaro delivered the Welcome Address. He expressed the thanks of all participants to Dr. Reynaldo E. dela Cruz and his staff who were responsible for putting together an exciting workshop that focused on biotechnology in the next century.

The purpose of the conference was to make a deliberate effort to determine trends and concerns in biotechnology and maximize opportunities for information exchange across countries. Objectives included the identification of trends and challenges for biotechnology for the next millenium; the discussion of strategies to address biotechnology concerns; and the promotion of mutual cooperation through the exchange of information among scientists and institutions in the region.

Topics of particular interest to ASEAN countries were discussed in the individual sessions and included man-made forest and propagation technology relative to tropical forest trees and mycorrhiza in the Asian-Pacific region (BIO-REFOR); microbial utilization of plant resources in the tropics; biological pollution control and remediation of enclosed water bodies in ASEAN countries; development of manufacturing bio-process technology in the tropics; and exploitation and application of novel functions of microbial resources in the tropics.

The conference was followed by field trips to Zambales and Pampanga to visit a virgin forest, historical sites, and lahar areas around Mt. Pinatubo.

Capacity Building in Eastern Europe
Effects of Forest Health on Biodiversity in the Carpathian Mountains: The project was started with the convening of a research planning workshop in Smolenice, Slovakia from November 4-6, 1997. The participants at the workshop agreed to the components and work activities that would lead to the successful completion of the project objectives. Based on the allocated budget of US$ 178,000 from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service over the span of the 3 year project, those involved agreed to work together to do the following: (1) phytosociological sampling in the first year at each of the 26 ozone monitoring sites (5 plots per site) to be evaluated two times during the vegetative season (beginning and end of the season) in 1998 (and perhaps in year 3 if funding allows); (2) bark beetle sampling for all three years in high- and low-pollution sites for each country; (3) genetics sampling of beech, spruce and fir trees at a heavily polluted site in Slovakia and a relatively clean-air site in Romania; (4) GIS activities will be accomplished by close cooperation of the IFER (the Czech Republic), Geosystems Romania and Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Forestry and Forest Melioration; (5) recommend the high desirability of using dendrochronology and geostatistics to identify historical patterns of growth declines and to associate these with pollutant levels if either additional funding was found or if it could be accommodated within the current project budget.

All efforts went especially well during the first year. The phytosociological sampling was completed on time and the results are currently undergoing analysis. The bark beetle sites were set up and sampled in all countries and the genetics team began it selection of trees and the collecting of samples. The GIS team was aided by an offer from ESRI (the creators of ARC Info) to come to the Czech Republic, install their software, and provide training for only the cost of paying the travel expenses of one of their experts. The project more than benefitted by this exchange since the cost of the software along is way more than the travel expenses. The group will also receive additional technical support from ESRI as data are accumulated.

The project has incorporated the dendrochronology work by minimizing indirect costs and using the savings to allow this work to add to the value of the overall project. We should also point out that no salaries are funded from the project and all are paid for by the respective institutions during the work.

Capacity Building in Latin America
Many of the activities that we had planned for Latin America were left for 1999 as Deputy Coordinator Wade Bowers returned to Canada early and we were unable to follow through on a variety of potential projects. However, we were able to provide support for the Latin American Congress in Chile in terms of enhancing participation at the Congress and in terms of developing a CD-ROM. We anticipate the arrival of a new Deputy Coordinator from the Canadian Forest Service who will be charged on developing further our activities in this region.

Scientist Assistance Programme
With the instructions from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to direct US$70,000 to a Research Group meeting (6.16.00 in Miyazaki, Japan) we had very limited opportunities for scientist support this year but managed to do very well in soliciting additional support. We provided US$5,000 each to the Division 2 Conference in China, the Division 8 Conference in Japan and the Latin American Congress in Chile.

We also provided US$7,500 to the Sustainability Congress in Australia. In addition to these core fund allocations we were successful in applying for AUS$30,000 for the Sustainability Congress from AusAid and another US$25,000 for the Latin American Congress from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. We also provided small grants from the IUFRO Development fund. Our total scientist assistance programme in 1998 thereby exceeded US$150,000 - a landmark amount for IUFRO-SPDC. Future assistance for IUFRO workshops and meetings will be more and more restricted to high profile meetings where we can successfully compete for additional support from other sources.

Information Services
Textbook Projects: The IUFRO-SPDC textbook project is off to a fast start. Two volumes have already been published, a third is in production, and a fourth multi-volume set is in the concept stage. We anticipate the third volume to be ready in the 2nd half of 1999.

No. 1 - Forestry and Environment in Pakistan by K.M. Siddiqui (in English) - Published

No. 2 - Modelling Forest Growth and Thinnings by K. v. Gadow and G. Hui (in Chinese) - Published

No. 3 - Forest Production for Tropical America by F. Wadsworth (in Spanish) - In Production

No. 4 - Silvicultural Practices in Africa (Concept in Cooperation with AAS, IFS, and IPGRI).

Training Manuals: Dr. Pat Reid (Director, School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ) was in Vienna on a six month sabbatical from July through December. Dr. Reid worked hard on finishing a first draft of our latest training manual entitled "Handbook for Preparing and Writing Proposals." We are now in the process of circulating the first draft for comment and looking for potential partners in improving its content and scope.

IUFRO-SPDC on the Web: The IUFRO-SPDC web-site continues to expand its content. All relevant news items from the IUFRO-SPDC news inserts are now available on the web along with a current description of our programme. In the future, IUFRO-SPDC web pages will also have copies of our publications and bibliographies as they become available. These will include high interest topical papers, for example "Mechanisms for Forestry Research Capacity Building", our training manuals in PDF format in English, French and Spanish, and the latest developing country news.

IUFRO News Inserts: IUFRO-SPDC has now published a 6 page insert IUFRO in News, starting with Vol 26 (4), 1997. This is designed to replace the news portion of the Information Bulletin and has the advantage of also informing the entire IUFRO membership on SPDC activities.

CD-Rom Production: IUFRO-SPDC cooperated with the IUFRO Secretariat and the Latin American Congress organizing committee to produce a CD-ROM with all abstracts and papers that were available prior to the Congress. The CD also included a complete copy of the IUFRO web site. The CD’s were distributed to all participants at the Congress and to all IUFRO member organizations in Latin America.

Personnel - News
Dr. Wade Bowers from the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has accepted a new managerial position with CFS in Newfoundland and left IUFRO-SPDC at the end of June. He had started as Deputy Coordinator for Programme on 1 April 1997.

Eva-Maria Hütter, Administrative Assistant, moved from the Secretariat to IUFRO-SPDC in May to replace the departed Martina Melville.

Robert C. Szaro, Coordinator
Atse M. Yapi, Deputy Coordinator for Africa