Reemphasizing, World Forests Threatened



At the current meeting of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, NGOs reiterated the mounting threat of uncontrolled logging for forests and the ecosystem processes they provide. WWF contended that only 6% of the world's 8.155 billion acres are protected. The $100 billion dollar industrial timber industry is held to be largely responsible for accelerating forest loss. The failure of national government's to act to reign in forest destruction is noted. Following is a photocopy of a Reuters article covering the meeting.

Environmental groups say world forests threatened
Copyright 1996 by Reuters

GENEVA (Reuter) - Environmental groups warned Monday that the world's remaining forests were under mounting threat from uncontrolled logging by international companies and a refusal of governments to extend protected areas.

The charges were issued as delegates from 53 countries to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) began a two-week meeting in Geneva to discuss ways of halting increasing forest destruction.

In a report to coincide with the meeting, the Swiss-based World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said latest figures showed that only six per cent of the 8.155 billion acres of forest left around the globe were protected.

Francis Sullivan, leader of WWF's Forests for Life Campaign, told a news conference solutions to the problem were obvious "but governments are refusing to act.

"What we need is a dramatic increase in the number of legally-protected forest areas as well as the controlled use of forests which fall outside the protective boundary," he said.

At the same time a British- and United States-based group, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said the international timber trade -- valued at around $100 billion a year -- played a critical role in the decline of forest cover.

"The vital ecological, economic and social functions of this precious resource are under increasing threat because the timber industry is subject to no coherent international regulation to match its global power and influence," an EIA study declared.

The study, "Corporate Power, Corruption, and the Destruction of the World's Forests," said the lack of international controls had "encouraged the use of illegal and unethical activities by many large companies, both in their dealings with foreign governments and in their logging operations."

The IPF was set up by the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in March last year and is working on draft recommendations for consideration by world leaders at a special "Earth Summit" in New York in June 1997.

But environmental activists say the power of the forest product industry -- believed to be the third largest global industrial sector after telecommunications and automobiles -- could prevent any effective action.

To back its own campaign, the WWF Monday released data gathered by the British-based World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) showing a 34 per cent increase in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since 1992.

Sullivan told the news conference this meant an area the size of Belgium had been lost in a country which was home to some of the world's largest remaining forest areas.

The data also showed that countries like Russia, Cambodia and Cameroun, where large regions of forest still survived although widely exploited by commercial loggers, had yet to establish networks of protected areas.

A global map produced by the WCMC showed "that levels of forest protection are far below the internationally-accepted minimum of 10 per cent of the world's forests," Sullivan declared.

"With this new map, we can blow away the smokescreen which has hidden the truth about the state of the world's forests for so long....This issue must be the central theme of IPF if we are to stop the continuing degradation of the world's remaining forests."

This document is a PHOTOCOPY and all recipients should seek permission from the source for reprinting. You are encouraged to utilize this information for personal campaign use; including writing letters, organizing campaigns and forwarding. All efforts are made to provide accurate, timely pieces; though ultimate responsibility for verifying all information rests with the reader. Check out our Gaia Forest Conservation Archives at URL=

Networked by:
Ecological Enterprises
Email (best way to contact)->

BACK TO *********************************************************************