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Protect Ancient Forests

Greenpeace Calls For Urgent Action By World Governments To Protect Ancient Forests

Montreal, November 12th Since 08.30 this morning, Greenpeace has staged a protest in Montreal, where delegates from Environment Ministries and scientific experts over 110 countries are meeting to discuss the future of the world’s remaining ancient forests. Seven inflatable animals representing the threatened wildlife of the world remaining forests greeted delegates as they entered in the meeting.

As the meeting opened Greenpeace exposed Governments for ignoring key recommendations by scientists to protect ancient forests globally.

The meeting – the last preparatory meeting before next year’s Ancient Forest Summit11 The Ancient Forest Summit is the 6th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will be held in The Hague, The Netherlands in April 2002. The preparatory meeting held this week is the 7th meeting of SBSTTA (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice) to the CBD. - is the most critical forest meetings since 10 years, offering world governments a last chance to choose to save the ancient forests.

“ The world’s remaining Ancient Forest are facing a crisis. If world Governments do not act now, these crucial ecosystems will disappear and along with them, the plants and animals and human communities that depend on them” said Greenpeace political advisor Gudrun Henne. “Despite the urgency of the forests crisis, vital recommendations made by experts have been ignored. It is time to act, and we are calling on world governments represented here to agree on concrete measures to save these magnificent forests.”

The action in Montreal comes in the wake of a series of protests by Greenpeace worldwide over the failure of world governments to halt ancient forest destruction since the Rio Earth Summit almost 10 years ago22 One of these actions – an exposure of illegal logging of mahogany in Indian Lands in the Brazilian Amazon – resulted in the issuing of a death threat against Greenpeace personnel in Brazil. As a result of the Greenpeace exposé the Brazilian Government has recently imposed a moratorium on all movement of mahogany within Brazil until the industry has been investigated..

“In 1992, world governments adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity – a legally binding agreement aimed at conserving life on earth. But since then these governments have done little to live up to this commitment. Harbouring around two-thirds of the world’s land-based species, conserving forests is key to conserving biological diversity,” said Henne.

According to FAO figures released just last month33 FAO (2001) State of the World’s Forests 2001 (released 03.10.01) an average of more than 15 million hectares of pristine forest in the tropics alone has been cleared each year during the 1990s. Meanwhile Jeffrey McNeely, Chief Scientist of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has recently stated that “if forest clearing continues at 1990s rates, the forests will lose many of their remaining species by the middle of the 21st Century.”

“Independent scientific evidence shows conclusively how ancient forests – from the boreal forests of Russia and Europe to the tropical forests of Brazil – are being eroded at a staggering pace. Unless urgent action is taken by world governments these magnificent forests will disappear, along with unique human cultures, and animals such as the gorilla, orang-utan and brown bear,” said Henne.

In a report released by Greenpeace to highlight the SBSTTA meeting and the forthcoming Ancient Forest Summit, Greenpeace emphasise the role of world governments in contributing to the ancient forest crisis, pointing out both their failure to live up to earlier promises on conservation, and their culpability in failing to control the international forest products industry. Greenpeace calls on world governments to:

Stop their role in ancient forest destruction, by stopping any further industrial activities in intact ancient forest until ecologically responsible plants for forest conservation and sustainable use have been agreed and implemented. Clean up the timber trade, by ensuring that timber is produced and traded in a legal and ecologically responsible way. Come up with the money, by providing at least US$15 billion each year to pay for forest conservation and sustainable development.

Ends


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