Greenpeace calls on ITTO to do more to end tropical forest destruction

Press release - 7 May, 2007
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”.

Greenpeace activists abseiled off the top of the Crowne Plaza hotel in 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' in an effort to make sure they stick to their goal to make all tropical timber come from sustainably managed forests by 2000. 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.

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. (1)

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."(2)

"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.(3)

"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 bio-diverse 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.(4)

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 (5) 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. (6) 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.(7)

"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."

Other contacts: In Port Moresby: GMT +10 Media Officer, Tiy Chung +675 321 5954 or +675 698 6712 (m) Campaigner, Val Philips +675 321 5954 In New Zealand: GMT +12 Campaigner, Grant Rosoman +64 3 382 5476 or +64 21 428 415 (m)

Notes: 1) The 42nd ITTC meeting runs from May 7 to 11, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The members of the ITTO include all the major countries with forests and all the major forest product consuming countries. 2) ITTO, April 2007, “Achieving the ITTO Objective 2000 and Sustainable Forest Management in Papua New Guinea: Report of the Diagnostic Mission. – Executive Summary” http://www.itto.or.jp/live/PageDisplayHandler?pageId=179&id=3227 3) ITTO, 2005. “Status of tropical forest management 2005” http://www.itto.or.jp/live/PageDisplayHandler?pageId=270 4) Houghton, RA (2003) Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850 – 2000. Tellus 55B: 378-90; & Houghton, RA (2005a) Tropical Deforestation as a source of greenhouse emissions. 5) Roadmap to Recovery, Greenpeace International, 2006 (www.intactforests.org) 6) INPE (Brazilian Institute on Space Research), Program for Deforestation Assessment in the Brazilian Legal Amazonia using remote sensing images and digital image processing techniques (PRODES), http://www.obt.inpe.br/prodes/prodes_1988_2005.htm 7) Greenpeace International, April 2007. ‘Carving up the Congo’. http://www.greenpeace.org/congoreport

Exp. contact date: 2008-03-07 00:00:00

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