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Forests and the products they provide are universally required for the continuation of human society as we know it. To change our society to one that does not depend on the forest (to the forest's detriment) and its associated benefits requires such an enormous paradigm shift that we generally do not even consider it worthy of further investigation. Given this situation therefore, it is imperative that we discover mechanisms to manage the forest for all the benefits it can provide, in a sustainable manner.

Few countries have all the answers to all the issues faced, thus there exists a real need for international cooperation. Loss of forest resources transcends national boundaries and affects the entire planet. Given this, the roles of various agencies become vitally important in order to minimise any potential downside and to maximise the upside. Governments, NGOs, intergovernmental panels and the like must work more closely in order to resolve the pressing issues facing the forests. In many cases a collaborative approach will provide a solution which is more acceptable to all parties, and more robust than a solution that is developed unilaterally.

Societies around the world are beginning to face up to the reality that as a species man requires forest resources - both the wood and non-wood products a sustainably managed forest can provide. As the guardians of those resources our performance has to date been abysmal. It is with a great deal of urgency that we must turn that record around and ensure that we have sustainably managed forests for the generations that are to follow. Only a long term global commitment to conservation and sustainable development can reverse the tide of uncontrolled deforestation. A sound policy framework is central to this commitment.

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