Viet Nam, 21 Apr 2008 -- Hanoi - Trees grow for hundreds of years, but the forestry sector needs to change immediately if it is to deal effectively with the rapid changes occurring in modern society. Climate change, skyrocketing costs of food and fuel, persistent poverty and escalating demands for forest products are bringing unprecedented challenges to the forestry sector in Asia and the Pacific, according to leading forestry experts.
"What we do – or don’t do – in the next few decades, will determine the future of our planet for at least the next five million years," stated Professor Norman Myers, world-renowned ecologist and author of the "The Sinking Ark" and other popular books on biodiversity and tropical rainforests. "Globally, countries are spending at least US$200 billion each year on perverse subsidies that destroy biodiversity habitats, while the entire expenditure on conservation is less than a tenth of that amount," added Myers in his keynote address.
"Meeting the challenges requires enormous growth in skills, knowledge, and the re-invention of many of our existing forestry institutions," according to Jan Heino, head of forestry for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, in his inaugural address to the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week in Hanoi. "We must change. Forestry cannot continue along the path of past decades."
The theme of the meeting "Forestry in a changing world" draws attention to broader social, economic, environmental and technological developments and how forestry should respond to changes in society’s values and perceptions. Rapid growth of economies while shifting the economic balance in favour of the Asia-Pacific region is also increasing the region’s ecological footprint while, at the same time, exacerbating inequities in society.
"We must re-invent the way we manage our forests," according to Sunita Narain, noted social activist and director of the Centre of Science and Environment in India. Current approaches that focus on resource extraction and conservation in isolation must be re-oriented. "As things are now, we are degrading forests at the same time we’re marginalizing forest-dependent people," Narain added.
More than six hundred professionals from across Asia and the Pacific are participating in the first-of-its-kind event staged in this part of the world. Participants at the gathering are assessing recent developments in forestry and identifying ways to tackle the emerging challenges.
Key events during Asia-Pacific Forestry Week include sessions on forests and poverty, climate change, forest law enforcement and governance, invasive species, forestry education and research, and protected area management. FAO’s Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission will also convene during Forestry Week, providing a unique opportunity for delegates from thirty-three countries to map out collaborative responses to pressing regional forestry issues.
Journalists are invited to attend Asia-Pacific Forestry Week at the Conference Centre in Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi.
For Vietnamese media, contact
Mrs Nguyen Thi Tuyet Hoa : Tel +84 (0)4 843 3400 ; Cell +84 (0)912 312 895 ; Fax +84 (0)4 733 0752 ; Email email@example.com
Ms Bui My Binh : Tel +84 (0)4 843 7450 ; Cell +84 (0)989 096 252 ; Fax +84 (0)4 733 0752 ; Email firstname.lastname@example.org
For international media, contact Regan Suzuki : Cell +84 (0)944 017 838 ; Email email@example.com
More information at: