Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS, ASIA-PACIFIC FACES SOME TOUGH CHOICES ABOUT SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

Media invitation to a debate on the future management of Asia-Pacific’s threatened forests – 21st March (0800-1200). FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (39 Phra Atit Road Bangkok)

ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FORESTS, ASIA-PACIFIC FACES SOME TOUGH CHOICES ABOUT SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

Bangkok, Thailand , 19 Mar 2014 -- Forests and grasslands combined cover more than 57 percent of Asia-Pacific’s landmass, yet forests alone account for only 20 percent – and they are under threat, the FAO warns.

Forests cover one third of the Earth's landmass, performing vital functions. Around 1.6 billion people - including indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests protect watersheds, which supply fresh water to rivers. They provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations and play a key role in our battle against climate change.

Yet global deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. In Asia and the Pacific, forest cover is depleted due to illegal logging, forest fires, conversion of forest lands for mining and other commercial activities. Globally, deforestation contributes more than 17 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.

In China, rehabilitation efforts through a national forest plantation programme have resulted in a net increase in the region’s overall forest cover, but in terms of natural growth Asia and the Pacific is gradually losing its complex eco systems made possible through natural forests. Simply put, we are destroying the forests we need for future generations to thrive.

In order to reverse these losses, concrete action is needed. FAO is calling on member countries across the region to consider forest restoration programmes and seriously implement sustainable forest management. It is also engaging young people from Asia and the Pacific in discussions on sustainable forest management, as they will inherit this critical but dwindling natural resource.

You or your designate are cordially invited to join us on this special day to hear the views of specialists – and youth, who ultimately will inherit the forests of the future.

When: Friday, 21st March 2014 (8 am – Noon)

Where: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific – 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok

What: Discussion and debate “Forestry in a changing world!”

Who: Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific; Thomas Enters, UN-REDD Regional Coordinator; Caroline Liou, Communication Manager, RECOFTC; and students from: Asian Institute of Technology, King Mongkut’s University of Technology, Anglo Singapore International School and Garden International School.

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