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17 - 19 May 1993
Fontainebleau France

  Report of the Team Meeting


1.    The meeting of the newly created Joint FAO/ECE Team of Public Relations Specialists in the Forest and Forest Industries Sector was convened in accordance with decisions of the FAO European Forestry Commission and the ECE Timber Committee which stressed the importance of public relations activities in the forest and forest products sector.  The meeting was held at the Ermitage de Franchard in the Fontainebleau Forest, near Fontainebleau, France, from 17-19 May 1993.

2.    The following countries were represented:  Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.  The ECE and FAO were also represented.  A list of participants is attached.

3.    The participants were welcomed by Mr. A. Grammont, Director of Rural Areas and Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, who explained the background of the team of specialists and the interest of the Ministry in public relations in the forest and forest industries sector.  Mr. R. Lafouge,  Deputy Director, Office National des Forêts, welcomed the team for the ONF and explained their public relations and forest management goals for the Fontainebleau Forest.

Adoption of the agenda (Item 1 of the agenda)

4.    The provisional agenda as presented by the ECE/FAO secretariat was adopted.

Election of officers (Item 2 of the agenda)

5.    Mr. F. Lindsay, Head of Information of the Forestry Commission of Great Britain, was elected to chair the meeting.

Introduction (Item 3 of the agenda)

6.    Mr. Lindsay presented the background which led to the meeting including the support of the European Forestry Commission (beginning with its 25th session, report FO:EFC/91/REP and subsequent Executive Committee meetings) and the Timber Committee (beginning with its 49th session, report ECE/TIM/59, its 50th session, report ECE/TIM/63, and subsequent office-holders meetings).  The meeting heard a report from each country of the major public relations activities undertaken in national and international campaigns during the previous year.  It was, in total, an exciting list of valuable initiatives, steady but effective publicity efforts and some notable successes.

International cooperation on public relations in the forest and forest industries sector (Item 4 of the agenda)

7.    Mr. Lindsay presented a discussion paper titled, "Maximising International Opportunities", which called for consideration of public relations needs in three areas:  international issues like sustainable management of forests and ecolabelling; international forestry meetings in 1993 and their follow-up; and the statement of forest principles from the 1992 UNCED Rio conference.  The team is conscious that the increased exposure, of the forest and forest industry (FFI) sector, to negative publicity in many countries (especially by NGOs and industrial competitors) brings a need for vigilance, for better networking and for well-structured and positive publicity campaigns.  It is particularly notable that press and other media coverage of forestry and timber issues is becoming much more internationalised.  Despite the different forestry administration structures in each country, it is clear that such negative publicity affects all parts of the FFI sector.  The discussion which ensued indicated the need for improving the coordination, cooperation and quality of international public relations in the ECE region through a pro-active approach and focused activities.

8.    The team of specialists in public relations is a source of exceptional experience and skills and it is especially important that all member countries benefit.  The team recommends the establishment of a network of people in the FFI sector who have communications responsibilities, including staff in the forest, in the factory, in sales forces and at any point where the messages of forestry can be communicated to the public.  Each member country should establish one person as a focus for information.

9.    The team agreed that the principal targets for the communications effort are the decision-makers (legislators and their advisers, civil servants) and those with influence (opinion leaders, media, key market leaders).  The team also recommends that the Timber Committee and the European Forestry Commission increase their public profile;  the team could assist in providing publicity support and guidance.  The FFI sector itself is an important target for positive public relations.

10.    The team confirmed the view of the informal meeting in 1992 that public opinion analysis is a necessary foundation for discussion and decision on what publicity should be undertaken.  It is recommended by the team that all member countries undertake this activity.

11.    Cooperation and confidence building rather than confrontation, with the public and with environmental groups was a recurring theme during the meeting and a number of delegates reported on the completion of joint statements on good environmental practice in the FFI sector.  The team recommends to the Timber Committee and the European Forestry Commission to give further consideration to this developing practice.

Proposals for team activities (Item 5 of the agenda)

12.    The conclusions reached by the team give promise that the experience, skills and willingness of its members will, in the long term, lead to a better public understanding of the purposes, of the values and of the many public benefits deriving from the outputs of the FFI sector.

13.    The team recommends that their principle objectives should be:

 a. to share experience, skills, ideas and information relating to public relations in the FFI   sector;

 b. to give professional guidance and support to the Timber Committee and the European   Forestry Commission on their publicity needs;

 c. to exchange and analyze the results of public opinion surveys;

 d. to establish the team as a coordination point and focus for the development of international   public relations advice;

 e. to increase networking amongst public relations managers and other staff in the FFI sector.

Proposals to submit to the European Forestry Commission and the Timber Committee (Item 6 of the agenda)

13.    A paper on proposed terms of reference was presented by Canada.  In the following discussion the meeting agreed with the suggested references below would be submitted to the Joint Session of the European Forestry Commission and the Timber Committee in October 1993:

 (a) Mandate.  The team will:

  • Provide advice to the FAO European Forestry Commission and the ECE Timber    Committee on the development of international public relations activities and    campaigns;
  • Establish and carry out an information exchange programme on public relations    initiatives amongst member countries.

 (b) Membership.  Whilst it is not for the team to specify its membership, it is   recommended that it should be designed to ensure:

  •  Participation of professional public relations managers;
  •  A complementary approach to both government, private sector forest owners and    representatives of industry and trade;
  •  Opportunity for countries to develop their public relations strategies.

 (c) Meetings of the team.  The meeting, to be held in a different country, normally once a   year, should have on its agenda:

  • Round table discussions on issues and accomplishments of international    interest;
  • Areas of cooperation and reports from working groups;
  • Trends in public opinion and public affairs management;
  • Special theme and a field trip associated with the theme.

 (d) Team leader and secretariat:

  • A team leader should be nominated by members of the team and endorsed by the parent    bodies;
  • Secretariat functions would be conducted by FAO/ECE Agriculture and Timber    Division, Geneva, with the support of the FAO Forestry Department, Rome.

(e) Working groups:

  • Sub-groups from the team will deliver or coordinate the delivery of specific    activities;
  • The team leader will provide general direction to these groups during the course of the    year;
  • The groups will report to the annual meeting.

 (f) Reporting to the European Forestry Commission and the Timber Committee:

  • The team operates under the authority of the Commission and the    Committee;
  • The team will submit an annual report to their respective meetings (or those of their    bureaux).

14.    The team recognized that some initiatives and work programmes have long-term development commitments, whilst others are already in progress and the main objective should be to refine and publish best practice.  Accordingly the following list of projects was agreed by delegates.  As results develop, the projects will either be brought back to the European Forestry Commission and the Timber Committee for approval or be circulated for member countries to adopt as relevant to their circumstances.  Responsibilities for leading these task sub-groups are indicated.

 Long Term

a. Public relations "toolkit" (a set of guidance notes on best practice in public relations).  Sweden has prepared a document on press relations which has been circulated to team members for comment before finalization.

b. Publicity for the FAO European Forestry Commission and the ECE Timber Committee.  The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany will prepare draft communications plan for submission to next meetings of the two bodies.

c. Newsletter.  The possibility of producing a periodical newsletter as a means of internal communication to public relations specialists was discussed.  The distribution might encompass other managers and subordinates and was considered a most desirable objective by the team.  The resource implications need to be carefully assessed, and if the Joint Timber Committee and European Forestry Commission Session considers the idea of interest, proposals for its production should be prepared by a sub-group of the team of specialists for discussion at the team's meeting in 1994.

d. Education initiatives.  The team agreed that there were a multitude of opportunities for the FFI sector message to be communicated by contact with education establishments and individual students.  No decisions were taken on a specific project at this stage.  Each country will exchange information on education initiatives.  The team did, however, wish to recommend that training in public relations techniques and presentation skills was a suitable issue for discussion and recommendation by the Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training.

Short term

e. International databases.  Canada will produce a report on the scope for using international computer databases and electronic mailboxes as a channel of communication and information exchange amongst team members.

f. Public opinion surveys.  Croatia will collate the results of recent surveys and prepare a report.

g. Women as key consumers.  A paper presented by Norway recommended special attention to be paid to women as a key target for FFI sector publicity.  A sub-group of members representing Norway, Austria and the Netherlands will refine the draft before it is more widely circulated.

h. Sustainable management.  The Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in Helsinki in June 1993 and the meeting on Sustainable Development of Boreal and Temperate Forests, conducted under the auspices of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Montreal in September 1993 brought attention to the practice of sustainable forest management and biodiversity.  Canada and Finland will prepare draft notes, for publicity purposes, on the outcome of these meetings for circulation to members of the team.

i. Community forests.  The team was impressed by the field trip to Fontainebleau Forest and agreed that an exchange of details of member countries' approach to public relations in urban and peri-urban forests was desirable.  France agreed to coordinate and produce a report on publicity opportunities in community forests.

j. Successful public relations campaigns.  Team members will exchange details of successful public relations campaigns. The United Kingdom will prepare a draft standard report format to ensure consistency of reporting.

k. UNCED.  Delegates agreed that a short, jargon-free summary of the statement of forest principles was urgently needed.  The FAO Forestry Department agreed to circulate selected extracts from the text of a new booklet, in advance of publication.

l. Tree day/tree week/week of the forest.  Many countries have public participation events  where forest visits, tree planting and other activities highlight the role of trees and timber.   Belgium will coordinate contributions from each country and produce a report which could form  the basis of a feature article for newspapers.

15.    Mr. Lindsay was appointed team leader for 1993/1994.

Special topic: Relations with the public in suburban forests  (Item 7 of the agenda)

16.    The special topic was presented by France, the meeting host, as a lead-in to the following day's study tour.  They described public relations activities in Fontainebleau Forest, located near the Paris metropolitan area, which serves a variety of functions including hardwood timber production, recreation, hunting and other purposes.  The ONF communicates information directly to the public through its foresters at educational opportunities and by signs at forest management sites.  Internally they prepare for interfaces with the public by building communication skills and by providing training on the public's perceptions and expectations.  Indirectly the ONF informs the public through liaison with elected officials, interest groups, associations and the press.  With these inputs the ONF refines its silvicultural practices to take into account the varying interests and needs.

Other Business  (Item 8 of the agenda)

17.    The meeting hosts presented a demonstration of their new Minitel information retrieval system that they will use for public relations purposes.  Minitel will answer questions about France's forests, forest management and forest products industry and enable the public to order informational brochures from the Minsitry of Agriculture adn Fisheries and the ONF by calling a free telephone number via a computer terminal in their homes and offices. The possibility of accessing the information from other countries exists as Minitel-compatible systems are linked in Europe.

18.    The secretariat offered to facilitate the exchange of information of public relations materials for all countries in the ECE region by building a database of available information.  The secretariat distributed copies of its current information as presented by countries and requested the team to update their individual country lists to indicate new materials and eliminate unavailable materials.  The team agreed that the information needed for the secretariat's database should be standardized and should include: complete reference source for ordering materials, publication date, type of material (book, document, video, journal, brochure, poster, press release or other), title, brief content description, number of pages or time and language.

Date and time of next meeting  (Item 9 of the agenda)

19    Sweden offered to host the next team meeting, possibly in June 1994, in order to coincide with the Elmia Wood Fair.

Visit to the Fontainebleau Forest on the issue of relations with the public in suburban forests  (Item 10 of the agenda)

20.    Following-up on the theme and special topic of the meeting, the hosts provided a tour of their public relations efforts on this large hardwood forest located near the Paris metropolitan area.  Areas viewed and items discussed included harvested areas with both natural and artificial regeneration, roadside timber management/landscaping approaches, erecting signs for forest visitors to explain management practices, biological reserves, etc.  Participants saw examples of public relations on issues very similar to their own country's needs and expressed thanks to the hosts for the excellent tour.

Report of the meeting (Item 11 of the agenda)

21.    Due to the short meeting time, this report was circulated and approved after the meeting.

Other matters

22.    The meeting participants expressed many thanks for all the excellent arrangements and generous hospitality of their hosts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Office National des Forêts.



Fontainebleau, France    17-19 May 1993

AUSTRIA Mr. Ingwald Gschwandtl Dipl. Ing. Head of Division, Forest Economics and Public Relations Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Ferdinandstrasse 4 A-1020 Vienna 00 43 222 21323 or 7307 Fax: 00 43 222 21323-7216

Mr. Willy Verbeke
Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Edocatief Bos Bouwcentrum
Du Bois Laan 14
B-1560 Hoeilaart
32 2 657 03 86
Fax: 32 2 657 96 82

Mr. Valentin Pavlovitch Zorin
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus
Chkalov Street 6
220039 Minsk
007 0172 24 47 04 (or 007 0172 24 47 05)
Fax: 007 0172 24 41 83

Dr. Oleg Aleksandrovich Atroshchenko
Head, Forest Industries Department
Sverdlova Street 13a
220630 Minsk
007 0172 27 22 54
Fax: contact through Mr. Zorin's fax

Mr. John Wansbrough
Director of European Affairs
Council of Forest Industries of B.C.
Tileman House
131-133 Upper Richmond Road
London, 8W15 2TR
44 81 788 4446
Fax: 44 81 789 0148

Mr. Yves St-Onge
Forestry Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Hull, Quebec  K1A 1G5
819 997 1107
Fax: 819 997 1149

Professor Rudolf Sabadi
Faculty of Forestry, University of Zagreb
Svetosimunska 25
41000 Zagreb, Croatia
38 41 21 82 88
Fax: 38 41 21 86 16 or 38 41 45 11 38

Mr. Pekka Kivelä
Vice President Corporate Communications
Metsä-Serla Corporation
Revontulentie 6
SF-02100 Espoo
358 0 469 4545
Fax: 358 0 469 4355

Mr. Juhani Karvonen
Executive Director
Finish Forestry Association
Salomonkatu 17 A
SF-00100 Helsinki
358 0 694 0300
Fax: 358 0 693 3466

Mr. Jean-Marie Bourgau
Adjoint au Sous-Directeur de la Forêt
Sous-direction de la Forêt, Direction de l'Espace rural et de la Forêt
Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt
1 ter avenue de Lowendal
F 75700 Paris
33 1 49 55 51 40
Fax: 33 1 49 55 41 97

Mr. Charles Dereix
Chef du Département de la Communication
Office National des Forêts
2 avenue de Saint-Mandé
F-75570 Paris Cedex 12
33 1 40 19 58 43
Fax: 33 1 44 73 46 45

Ms. Ulrike Menges
Forest Policy Section
Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry
Rochusstrasse 1
D 5300 Bonn 1
0228 529 3741 Fax: 02228 529 4318

Mr. Nicholas Efstathiadis
Section Chief, Forest Research
3 Ippokratous Str.
GR-10164 Athens
301 360 7438 (possibly 0521-37-707 or 301-362-1290)
Fax: 301 360 7138

Ms. Marieke C. van Nieuwkuyk
Public Relations Manager
SBH Foundation for Forest and Forest Products
Postbus 253
NL-6700 AG Wageningen
31 83 702 4666
Fax: 31 83 701 0247

Ms. Berit Sannes, Information Manager
The Norwegian Forest Owners' Federation
Box 1428, Vika
N-0155 Oslo
47 2 83 47 00
Fax: 47 2 83 40 47

Mr. Wlodzimierz Adamczyk
Assistant, Section of Spatial Information in Forestry
Forestry Research Institute
ul. Bitwy, Warszawskiej 1920r/3
22 49 32
Fax: 22 49 35

Mr. Lars Erik Holmberg
Deputy Head of Division
National Board of Forestry
S-55183 Jonkoning
46 36 15 56 00
Fax: 46 36 16 61 70

Mrs Agneta Lindstedt
Director, Skogsindustrierna
Box 5518
S-11485 Stockholm
46 87 83 84 00
Fax: 46 86 61 73 06

Mr. James Frazer Lindsay
Head of Information
Great Britain Forestry Commission
231 Corstorphine Road
Edinburgh, Scotland  EH12 7AT
44 31 334 0303
Fax: 031 334 4473

Mr. Ronnie Williams
Executive Director
The Forestry Industry Committee of Great Britain
Golden Cross House
3-8 Duncannon Street
London, WC2N 4JF
44 71 930 9422
Fax: 071 930 9426

Mr. Michael Buckley
European Director
American Hardwood Export Council
19-25 Argyll Street
London, UK  W1V 1AA
Fax 071 287 2628

Mr. Tony Loftas
Chief, Information Materials Production Branch
Information Division, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
I 00100 Rome
39 6 57 97 33 16
Fax: 39 6 57 97 36 99

Mr. Stephen Dembner
Editor, Unasylvia
FAO, Department of Forestry
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
I-00100 Rome
39 6 57 97 47 78
Fax: 39 6 57 97 51 37

Mr. Ed Pepke
Forestry Officer, Marketing
FAO/ECE Agriculture and Timber Division
United Nations
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
41 22 917 2872
Fax: 41 22 917 0041

formerly FAO/ECE
Mr. Tim Peck