May 28, 2005

World Forum on Forest Preservation Ends in Failure

UNITED NATIONS -- Despite alarming global deforestation rates, estimated at approximately 9.4 million hectares per year, a UN conference on forest preservation ended with the conference chairman calling the event a "failure."

"At the end, we didn't agree," said Colombian chairman Manuel Rodriguez Becerra. "It's a collective failure.... We were not able to agree in making decisions that are relevant for addressing the huge deforestation, the huge degradation of forests."

The final resolution from the UN Forum on Forests held for two weeks at UN headquarters in New York, delayed all decision-making to the next conference scheduled for February 2006.

Rodriguez Becerra blamed the failure on a fundamental disagreement between some Northern and Southern countries.

"Developing countries say we need strong means of implementation and the developed world says we need strong objectives, and there is not a strong point of encounter between means and goals," he said.

Much of the world's forest losses are happening in the tropics, where illegal logging and expanding agriculture lands have had a negative impact, but forests are actually expanding in non-tropical areas.

Environmental group Greenpeace singled out forestry giants Brazil and the United States for resisting specific measures to fight deforestation.

"While the     European Union, Canada, Mexico and others have insisted on establishing strong commitments to address this crisis, it is very clear that the United States and Brazil will not commit to measurable, time-bound targets to end illegal logging," said Greenpeace representative Martin Kaiser.

Kaiser also blasted the Forum on Forests for failing to make any concrete progress to prevent deforestation and called for the dissolution of the annual conference.

"The UNFF has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to address the global challenges of deforestation" said Kaiser, adding that the forum has "never raised the political will and profile to become an integral part of an international sustainable development agenda."

Greenpeace advocated that forest preservation be dealt with as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a legally-binding environmental treaty formed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.


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