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20/04/2006 India

India hosts 21st Session of Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission

Dehradun – The area of forests lost in Asia-Pacific during the past five years is equivalent to the size of Sri Lanka, according to FAO.

More than 6 million hectares of natural forests were lost in the Asia-Pacific region, since 2000, mainly through conversion to agricultural crops and through wildfires, Wulf Killmann, FAO director of forest products and economics, warned delegates at an international meeting on forestry in Dehradun.

The human ecological footprint has become unbearably heavy in many areas according to a keynote address delivered by R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr Pachauri cautioned delegates that human responses to ecological threats would be the most important determining factor for the future of the planet.

Delegates to the meeting expressed strong concern at the incidence of illegal logging and illicit trade in forest products. Asia-Pacific countries and FAO were urged to improve forest law enforcement and governance to combat deforestation and forest degradation.

“We are vigorously developing new mechanisms to carry the fight against forest destruction”, Killmann said. He pointed to increasingly sophisticated technologies for forest monitoring and assessment, as well as the development of advanced codes of practice to better guide forestry activities. The development of codes of practice and guidelines for forest harvesting, planted forests, and management of wildland fires was a key focus of this week’s meeting.

Discussions also covered means of financing sustainable forest management, implications of the Global Forest Resources Assessment, a new regional strategy for combating invasive species, forest law compliance, and payments for environmental services of forests.

More than 200 participants from 35 countries are attending the 21st session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, in Dehradun, India. The Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission meets in general session every two years. The meeting is organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and is the most important gathering of regional forestry officials to be held in 2006.

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