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ITTO has failed to end tropical forest destruction says Greenpeace

ITTO has failed to end tropical forest destruction says Greenpeace

ITTO has failed to end tropical forest destruction says Greenpeace
Greenpeace news release
May 7, 2007

Note: The objectivity of this news release has been called into question.

Greenpeace activists today abseiled from the top of the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Port Moresby, where delegates were gathering for the start of the 42nd International Tropical Timber Organization’s (ITTO) committee meeting, and unfurled a banner which read “ITTO Stop Forest Destruction”.

Dutch climber Erik Birkhoff said, “Greenpeace wants the ITTO to do more to stop forest destruction in the world’s tropical forests.”

The protection of large expanses of rainforest has become a global issue and was identified by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) last week as one of the most cost-effective ways to mitigate against climate change.

Greenpeace is highlighting the issue of tropical forest destruction as representatives from governments meet at the 42nd ITTO meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, a country with serious illegal and destructive logging issues, to challenge the ITTO’s members to protect rather than trade away the planet’s last ancient forests.

A diagnostic report on PNG by the ITTO concluded that the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) is doing nothing on ensuring sustainable forest management and is focussed “almost exclusively on exploitation of the forest resource for the primary financial benefit of the national government.”

“Greenpeace wants the ITTO to do more to stop forest destruction in PNG,” said Sam Moko, Greenpeace PNG forest campaigner and climber. “Our Government has done nothing to protect our forests. They and the forest industry are more interested in short term financial gain rather than thinking about the future for our children.”

The ITTO was formed to find a balance between tropical forest conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources. However the world’s tropical forests, including the Amazon, Congo and the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific continue to be logged at alarming rates.

In 1990, the ITTO set a goal, “Objective 2000”, to ensure that the trade in tropical timber comes from sustainably managed forests by 2000. As of June 2006, according to the ITTO’s own assessment, less than 5 per cent of tropical forests were under sustainable management.

“By its own admission the ITTO is failing, in the 20 years it has been operating forest degradation and loss due to logging has accelerated in ITTO member countries rather than being brought under control,” said Greenpeace New Zealand Forest Campaigner Grant Rosoman. “This is a spectacular failure and points to the underlying aim of the ITTO members — the continued exploitation of forests for the trade in tropical timber.”

Tropical forests are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet and are home to millions of people who rely on them for their subsistence and survival. They are also an essential carbon reservoir and their continued destruction is contributing to climate change. Up to 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from tropical forest clearance. Since the ITTO announced its “Objective 2000” the world’s tropical forests have come under increased pressure from illegal and destructive logging as well as massive clearance for agricultural crops such as soya and oil palm.

Sixty per cent of PNG’s large intact ancient forests have already been destroyed and Greenpeace estimates that over 90 per cent of logging in PNG is illegal. Between August 2000 and August 2005 the Amazon lost 12.8 million hectares of forest. Indonesia was last week confirmed as a Guinness World Record holder for destroying its forests at the fastest rate and the Democratic Republic of Congo risks losing up to 40 per cent of its forests by 2050.

“Unless something is done now to stop wholesale forest destruction there may be nothing left to save. Instead of more talk the ITTO’s members need to take action to protect the world’s last ancient forests,” said Mr Rosoman. “We are calling on governments of forest countries to immediately implement moratoria on the expansion of industrial logging and set up a network of protected forest areas. Governments of market countries must implement legislation to ensure that their markets are not trading in illegal and destructive timber products.”

Response from

Response from Tim Curtin

  1. Unfortunately the PNG Forest Authority was until recently dominated by World Bank appointees, namely Jim Douglas, Peter McRae, and Andrew Bond, Australians who are known to stop at nothing to prevent PNG from competing with Australian forest products (for example Bond is now with the Australian government’s aid agency AusAid; the government as my paper points out, makes no bones about “bringing down the axe” on all PNG logging (they are staging a new attack on PNG on 29th May, see forwarded email from their DAFF). Selective logging of primary forest does NOT turn it into secondary (i.e replanted) forest.

  2. The basic inventory work underlying PNG’s Forestry Act and its licensing system was led by John McAlpine. This was based on satellite imagery, and is reported in J. McAlpine and J. Quigley, Forest Resources of Papua New Guinea: summary statistics from the forest inventory mapping (FIM) system, September 1998 (Coffey MPW Pty Ltd for AusAid and the PNG National Forest Service).

    This report has the following Table

    Gross Forest Area (1975) 330, 650 sq. km
    Logged 1975-1996 and regenerating: 19,850
    Logged 1975-96 & converted to land use 3,550
    Other forest clearing (for agric. etc) 9,600

    The net in 1996 of 1-3-4 was 317,500; regenerating remains part of the forest area.
    Reductions from the 1996 level clearly owe more to land conversion than to logging per se.

    Colin Filer has documented in several books how the World Bank was induced by its alliance with WWF to wage war on forestry in PNG (e.g. Colin Filer, with Navroz Dubash and Kilyali Kalit, The Thin Green Line: World Bank leverage and forest policy reform in Papua New Guinea, NRI and ANU, 2000).

Response from Colin Filer

Response from Tim Curtin

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