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Tropical forests under siege: Yokohama body

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 08:03 AM
Wednesday, July 26, 2006, The Japan Times

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Tropical forests under siege: Yokohama body

Only about 5 percent of the world's tropical forests are under "sustainable management" and the rest remain unprotected, leaving some of them subject to illegal logging and other harmful activities, according to the Yokohama-based International Tropical Timber Organization.

The group warned Monday that a mechanism is needed for nations to benefit economically from protecting their tropical forests, which help maintain biodiversity and absorb carbon dioxide.

"Unless long-term economic benefits are ensured, tropical forests may be (cleared) for agriculture," said Hana Rubin, ITTO communications assistant. "But how such benefits can be realized remains a stumbling block."

According to the group's latest study on tropical forest management, released in May, about 12 million hectares of tropical forest are cleared each year to make way for crops, pastures and other nonforest uses, with more tropical groves damaged by illegal logging and other practices.

The organization analyzed areas of tropical forests that have been sustainably managed to some degree in 33 countries in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. The areas represent about two-thirds of global tropical forests.

The report shows that about 5 percent of the tropical forests covered by the study, or about 36 million hectares, are sustainably managed, and that the rest remain poorly managed.

In a more limited 1988 report, which covered 18 countries, sustainably managed tropical forests accounted for about 970,000 hectares.

Malaysia, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil and the Republic of Congo have shown "particularly notable improvements," while Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both of which have been embroiled in major armed conflicts, have performed minimally, the organization said.

The survey points out that when combined with inadequate enforcement of forest laws, political and economic instability has often led to the spread of illegal logging.

Getting countries to work to sustainably manage their tropical forest resources is not easy, but Rubin said they can utilize a certification system.

The Japan Times

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