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WWF welcomes Rainforest Summit

WWF-Australia, the Forest Peoples Program and the Uniting Church in Australia, have released a five-point action plan to help halt rainforest loss. Source: the Herald Sun.

This statement includes measures to enable and incentivise responsible forestry and agriculture, and emphasises the need for Australian financial support for agriculture, conservation and forestry in the Asia-Pacific.

WWF-Australia chief executive officer Dermot O’Gorman said the summit is a timely opportunity for the Australian Government to make a real and substantial contribution to ending rainforest loss in Australia and abroad.

“Minister Hunt recognises the crucial importance of rainforests to people, to biodiversity and to climate change,” O’Gorman said.

“The solutions we’ve put forward are realistic and tangible actions that will work.”

The groups are calling for at least $200 million over four years to establish an Asia-Pacific Forests Fund to promote:
– Sustainable tropical forest management and conservation, with an emphasis on recognising and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their customary forests;
– Development of sustainable agriculture, which ensures zero net deforestation, supports small-holders and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities;
– Protection of High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock forests, particularly those which conserve species impacted by development; through cooperation with indigenous peoples and local communities, and through recognition of conserved territories and areas.
– Action to reduce forest carbon emissions, through conservation, sustainable management and restoration;
– Anti-corruption and land tenure reform initiatives
Patrick Anderson, Policy Advisor with the Forest Peoples Programme said the five-point action plan also requires a strong focus on recognition and respect for indigenous and customary rights as the foundation for a sustainable future.

“The rainforests of Asia Pacific are home to tens of millions of indigenous people,” Anderson said.

“Where these communities have secure rights to their forests, they manage them in ways that ensure higher levels of biodiversity and carbon and more local economic benefits than similar areas managed by governments.

“Addressing forest loss can best be accomplished by respecting and working with forest peoples.”

Dr Mark Zirnsak, social justice spokesperson for the Uniting Church said the Australian Parliament passed the historic Illegal Logging Prohibition Act in 2012, and will come into full force on November 30.

“Illegal logging thrives on bribery and tax evasion.

“It cheats local communities out of their valuable natural resources.

“Often those involved in illegal logging operations are also involved in other serious criminal activity.

“The Australian Government deserves a gold star for implementing the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.

“This law means Australian companies need to take action so they’re not unwittingly caught up in illegal logging.

“It also makes it fairer for Australian timber companies that have been doing the right thing,” Zirnsak said.