[Table of Contents]

[Global Issues and International Impact]


Setting an Agenda for Forestry Research (ICRIS)


In September, CIFOR Director General Jeffrey A. Sayer and Deputy Director General for Research Dennis Dykstra were among a group of 80 internationally recognized forestry experts and representatives from around the world who met in Ort-Gmunden, Austria, to identify the most pressing issues in forest management and suggest ways to promote greater research collaboration and better information sharing.

The meeting, the International Expert Consultation on Research and Information Systems for Forestry (ICRIS), arose from increased recognition of the importance of research in informing inter-governmental processes and conventions related to forests. The request for the consultation emerged during a session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) in 1997. CIFOR organized the event in collaboration with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations, and the governments of Austria and Indonesia.

Among the panel’s final recommendations was the creation of a global forum or other appropriate body that would bring together policy makers, funding agencies, forest research agencies, scientists and others to guide initiatives in forestry research, especially to better mobilise resources and achieve coherence in priorities. It was suggested that the IFF might look at the CGIAR – CIFOR’s parent organisation, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research – as the model for such a body.

The ICRIS participants also emphasised the need for mechanisms to strengthen research collaboration and policy-science linkages, particularly in the context of global initiatives such as IFF. As envisioned, a proposed Global Forest Information Service would facilitate access to forest related information among policy makers, forest managers, nongovernmental organisations, community groups and the public at large.

In setting forth its recommendations, the ICRIS panel said growing evidence shows that development assistance applied to building national research capacity has proved to have more sustainable long term benefits to recipient countries than other forms of development assistance. In light of such findings, it urged a focus on initiatives that will help countries strengthen their capacity to solve their own forest-related problems rather than relying on "ready-made" solutions from advisory missions and aid projects.