AS 2009 FORUM OPENS, MEMBER STATES TO GRAPPLE WITH FUNDING FOR FOREST MANAGEMENT IN TIMES OF CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

17 April 2009
ENV/DEV/1033

AS 2009 FORUM OPENS, MEMBER STATES TO GRAPPLE WITH FUNDING FOR FOREST MANAGEMENT IN TIMES OF CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

17 April 2009
Economic and Social Council
ENV/DEV/1033
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

AS 2009 FORUM OPENS, MEMBER STATES TO GRAPPLE WITH FUNDING

 

FOR FOREST MANAGEMENT IN TIMES OF CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

 

Beginning on 20 April, the 192 Member States of the United Nations will consider ways to improve the management of the world’s forests at a time when climate change, unsustainable development, and the financial crisis are posing severe risks to healthy forests.

For the next two weeks, the role of forests in global development will be the subject of discussion at the United Nations Forum on Forests, the only global body for comprehensive deliberations on international forest policy, which comprises all Member States of the Organization.

The Forum will focus on two key concerns:  how to finance sustainable forest management and examine how forests affect key environmental concerns, including climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss; and how those factors in turn affect forest degradation.  Reducing deforestation has risen to the top of the global agenda during the 2009 negotiations on a new climate change agreement, as it is estimated that forest loss contributes about 20 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, close to 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity resides in forests.

“Forests are not just timber and they are not just carbon sticks,” says Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat.  “Forests provide livelihoods, natural resources, shelter and a home to a good part of all living organisms.  At this session of the Forum, Member States need to step forward and finally reach agreement on the ways and means to finance sustainable forest management.  This is a 17-year-old discussion and it is time to stop talking and take action.”

Global forest cover amounts to about 30 per cent of the world’s land area, or just under 4 billion hectares, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, and international trade in global forest products is valued in the order of $270 billion, according to World Bank estimates.  At the same time, FAO estimates that 13 million hectares of the world’s forests are lost due to deforestation every year, which, in turn accounts for up to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.  The world’s forests and forest soils store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon ‑‑ nearly twice the amount found in the atmosphere.

At the last Forum, in 2007, countries agreed on the historic international instrument on sustainable forest management.  Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called the agreement a “milestone”, noting that “this is the first time Member States have agreed to an international instrument on international forest policy and cooperation”.

More information on the eighth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, including documents, organization of work and side events, can be found on the Forum website at www.un.org/esa/forests/session.html.

Media representatives without United Nations credentials who wish to attend the Forum’s meetings should contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, United Nations Department of Public Information at tel.:  1 212 963 2318 or fax: 1 212 963 4642.

For more information or interviews, please contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  1 212 963 9495 or 1 212 963 6816, fax:  1 212 963 1186, e-mail:  mediainfo@un.org; or Mita Sen, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, tel.:  1 917 367 5069, fax:  1 917 367 3186, e-mail:  sen@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.