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Financial Times: Sustainable forests rise by 50%, says study
A study of the world’s forests has found a 50 per cent rise in sustainably managed tropical woodlands since 2005, helped by rising demand in developed countries for certified wood and UN programmes to reduce carbon emissions.
The International Tropical Timber Organisation, an intergovernmental body promoting conservation and sustainable management, evaluated forest management in 33 countries, comprising 90 per cent of the tropical forest cover. The result was the 420-page report Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011, the Tokyo-based group’s second assessment of policy.
Between 2005 and 2010, the area of natural tropical forest under sustainable management rose from 36m hectares (89m acres) to 53m hectares (134m acres), an area about the size of Thailand, it found.
However, the report, funded by the Swiss and Japanese governments, also noted that more than 90 per cent of the world’s tropical forests, or about 685m hectares, are not managed sustainably and are at risk.
“It’s a strong rise, but it’s still very small in relation to the whole,” said Duncan Poore, co-author of the report and an ecologist who specialises in land use. “There is a long, long way to go. It is a considerable improvement, brought on by the recognition of governments that [sustainable forestry] is the sensible thing to do.”
“In some countries, we are certainly seeing a move toward the production of certified, higher-value products that would capitalise on an emerging ‘green economy’ and potentially help secure strong markets for sustainable tropical timber,” said co-author Jürgen Blaser of the Swiss Foundation for Development and International Cooperation.
Most progress during the past five years was recorded in Brazil, Gabon, Guyana, Malaysia and Peru. Conflict or poor forest management led to worsening situations in Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Liberia, Suriname, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.
“Today’s report shows that less than 10 per cent of all forests are sustainably managed and that ITTO expects deforestation to continue,” said Andy White, co-ordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative, a non-governmental organisation that works to promote forest tenure, policy and market reforms.
Local communities in emerging countries often depend on felling trees for income, but under an emerging UN system to cut global carbon emissions, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd), they will be paid to protect trees, rather than cut them down.
Forest policy reform and “community forestry are needed to prevent the continued loss of tropical forests and the industrial clearing and logging that leads to deforestation, poverty, and human rights abuses”, said Mr White.
The forest cover of Indonesia – which has the largest forests in the world after the Amazon basin but has experienced huge clearing for industry in recent decades – declined by as much as 18 per cent during the period, the ITTO said.
The area of protected forest rose 21 per cent, but the land area of protected forest not available for industrial mining or logging dropped nearly 4 per cent to 68.4m hectares, it said.
The decline may surprise some because Indonesia has just started participating in early Redd programmes. The government aims to cut emissions by as much as 41 per cent with foreign assistance. It is now the largest emitter in the world after China and the US.
The illegal trade of tropical wood is believed to have slowed significantly in Indonesia, but corruption, confusing land laws, rising demand from emerging Asian countries and climate change pose lingering threats to preservation, the ITTO said.
“Indonesia’s forests face many threats, including illegal logging, fire, encroachment, poor logging practices, inefficient timber-processing, unsettled land claims and regulatory inconsistency and confusion.”
Posted By Jenna DiPaolo at 11:36am on June 08, 2011
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