Kids for Forests in action

Feature story - February 17, 2004
A lot of important politicians are currently doing a lot of talking about preserving the diversity of life on Earth at a global UN meeting. Unfortunately talking is just about the only thing they have been doing to preserve life on Earth for the last 12 years. Future generations will have to live with the consequences of current inaction. That is why kids from regions threatened with destructive logging are in Malaysia to speak truth to the bureaucrats.

A teenager from Cameroon (foreground) and a girl from Canada (background) at the UN Summit for Life on Earth (Convention on Biological Diversity.) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Many of the world's ancient forests are being logged towards oblivion. The culprits are logging companies, often acting illegally, which are turning thousand-year-old forests into quick profits. The members of our Kids for Forests Delegation see this destruction of our shared future in their own regions. They have come to Malaysia, to the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to convince politicians to turn words into action.

One of the delegates Omanie Sakespeso, 18 came all the way from Papua New Guinea to plead with delegates to help save his home from international logging companies:

"The forest is my life and logging companies are taking my life away. The creeks that we used for medicine are contaminated and our burial sites have been destroyed by heavy bulldozers."

Omanie pleaded with the delegates: "You must carry out your duty and protect my last remaining tropical rainforest. It is my first time out of my country and I came all this way to tell you that you need to take action now."

Forests - furniture or a future?

At the last CBD in The Hague, 2002, delegates heard politicians promise to stop the destruction of species worldwide by 2010. In that time Kids for Forests have continued their campaign to elevate the level of awareness among their peers on the issues of forest destruction and ocean degradation.

Clara Buer, 21 from Germany who gave a speech in The Hague two years ago is not impressed with the lack of action taken by the international community.

"Two years ago in The Hague I stood before you. Two years ago you promised to stop the loss of life on earth. But in two years nothing has changed.

"I am deeply disappointed, but I am back. Because young people never give up fighting for their future and because I still believe this place is the right place to make the change.

"Your promise is worth nothing, if you allow the ancient forests to be boiled to paper or turned into furniture. Your promise is worth nothing, if there isn't an outcry among you, when huge fleets of ships take everything out of the oceans unregulated, undocumented and illegally."

The Kids for Forests youth delegation consists of around 30 young people between 13 and 20 years of age, coming from 13 countries around the world: from Australia/Pacific, Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand. Two to three young people from each country are invited, accompanied by one Greenpeace chaperon.

Clara ended her speech with a promise of action: "We are doing our part. Now, it's your responsibility to set the course for a global network of protected areas. And let the people affected, especially indigenous people like Omanie, take part in the decisions."

Worth Fighting for

Kids for Forests and Greenpeace are fighting for protected areas at the CBD in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Protected areas are the backbone of conserving life on Earth. It is widely agreed that, if we want to halt that loss of countless plants and animals that are threatened with extinction, we need an effective system of protected areas in every country and throughout the world.

The CBD commits each nation to establish such a system. But this goal has not been met: the system of protected areas is not comprehensive, it does not represent enough of nature's biological diversity and it is not big enough.

We want the governments to adopt a strong programme of work on protected areas with strict targets, specific timelines and clearly identified responsibilities. We want them to tell us who (which country, which political institution) is doing what, by when, and how they plan to establish a global network of protected areas.

These are the demands of future generations, of children who don't see the words "biodiversity" on a piece of paper but the lives of the orang-utans, forest deer, monkeys, gorillas, and birds that share their world -- and whose homes are threatened in exact proportion to the threat to our own future.

More information

Visit our Kids for Forests website.

Visit our tree-sit in Tasmania.

Check out the live weblog from the Rainbow Warrior, on forest patrol in Indonesia.

Check out the live weblog from the Arctic Sunrise, on forest patrol in Patagonia.

Take Action

Become a Forest Guardian