New international law for ancient forest protection

Press release - 16 May, 2005
Forest ministers from around the world will gather today to discuss the future of the forests at the start of the Fifth Conference of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) at the UN's headquarters in New York. Greenpeace is calling on governments to bring an end to the UNFF talk-shop which to date has done nothing to protect the forests nor the communities or the biodiversity that they house and create a legally binding agreement that will ensure the protection of the world's last remaining ancient forests.

Since the UN Summit on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992, theloss of the world's last ancient forests continues at alarming rates.During the last 13 years the world lost an area of forest greater thanthe size of France, Spain, Sweden and Germany combined. The manyinternational meetings by governments to address this issue, includingthe UNFF, have so far proved to be ineffective, unproductive and amajor financial drain of public money.

Greenpeace is urging the international community to focus their effortsinstead on the adoption of a legally binding Protocol on forests underthe Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has a much strongertrack record in making agreements that are in the interests of localcommunities, indigenous peoples and biodiversity. This agreement shouldestablish measures that will help governments achieve the global goalset by the World Summit on Sustainable Development 10 years after Rioto reduce and halt the loss of forest biodiversity by 2010, byfacilitating new money to fund forest conservation and ecologicallyresponsible forest management as well as regulating the uncontrolledinternational timber trade.

The last ancient forests in both the North and the South, contain overtwo third of the world's terrestrial biodiversity.  Biodiversityloss is a global concern, which requires global action. Internationaltrade from producer to consumer regions is a key factor causing thisforest crisis. A strong, effective, fair and legally bindingmultilateral environmental agreement is essential to help address thisproblem.

"The current crisis facing the world's ancient forests, such asaccelerating rates of species loss and deforestation, requiresimmediate attention and strong political will to shift the devastatingtrend," said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International ForestsCampaigner.  "Forest dependent peoples do not need any morerecycling of "nice" words on 'UN paper'. World leaders need to taketheir cue from the Kyoto Protocol and create a similar legally bindingagreement for the last Ancient Forests."

Other contacts: Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International Forests Campaigner, +49 171 8780 817Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace International Communications, +31 627 00 00 64