2. Vienna Principles

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The concept of a national forest programme has been developed extensively in Europe. One important outcome of this development has been the so called Vienna Principles (the European principles for forest programmes accepted in the Fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in 2003 in Vienna). These principles are intended to be the themes that pervade the entire national forest programme process and planning at a national level.

These principles can also be modified into any other modern planning or forest policy formulation situation when a modern and participatory approach is employed. In fact, the principles formulate many important elements not only for the national forest programme as such, but also by providing important elements for the strategy of the forest sector to intensify its interactions with other sectors and the whole of society.

The Vienna Principles area as follows:

1. Participation

Participation means a voluntary process whereby people, individually or through organized groups, can exchange information, express opinions and articulate interests, and have the potential to influence decisions of the outcome of the matter at hand.

2. Holistic and inter-sectoral approach

NFPs adopt a holistic and inter-sectoral approach that consider the impact of the forest sector on other sectors and the impact of other sectors on the forest sector.

3. Partnership for implementation

The implementation of forest policies in the framework of NFPs can benefit from co-operation between Governments, businesses and civil society.

4. Iterative process with long-term commitment

NFPs are long-term iterative processes that are continuously adapted to reflect new knowledge and changes in the natural, economic and socio-political environment.

5. Capacity building

An NFP process can profit from adequate competencies and skills of the actors involved provided that appropriate participatory models and techniques are applied.

6. Consistency with national legislation and policies

NFPs reflect national and/or sub-national needs and priorities and ensure consistency with national, sub-national or local legislation, policies and strategies.

7. Integration with national sustainable development strategies

In the NFP process, sustainable forest management in all its dimensions is considered in the context of overall sustainable development.

8. Consistency with international commitments recognising synergies between international forest-related initiatives and conventions

Forests are addressed by various international and regional initiatives and conventions needs within the framework of forest-related initiatives and conventions. These can be identified at three levels: the national, regional and international level. NFPs aim to strengthen consistency and provide synergy between relevant initiatives and conventions in each country by identifying the appropriate levels and requirements for cooperative efforts and activities.

9. Institutional and policy reform

Developing suitable conditions for sustainable forest management might also require institutional and forest/non-forest policy reform, including decentralisation and issues of land tenure arrangements as well as conflict resolution schemes.

10. Ecosystem approach

Developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating national forest programmes takes into consideration the ecosystem approach.

11. Raising awareness

Forests contribute significantly to the overall well-being of society in rural as well as in urban areas. NFPs are important instruments to raise the visibility of the forest sector and to enhance public awareness and understanding of the multiple benefits of forests for society.

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