Tue, 14 May 2002

A lack of funds hampers forest management

I Wayan Juniartha The Jakarta Post Nusa Dua, Bali

A lack of funds and means have undermined sustainable forest management efforts despite the goodwill of tropical country governments, a high ranking officer of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) said on Monday.

"Sustainable forest management is a difficult and costly task. The international community has made dozens, if not hundreds of recommendations on policies and action to improve forest management, but has it done its part to provide Indonesia with the means to implement them?" ITTC executive director Manoel Sobral Filho asked.

Filho was addressing the audience of the 32nd ITTC meeting during the opening of the six-day session by President Megawati Soekarnoputri at the Bali International Convention Center at the Sheraton Nusa Indah.

Accompanying the president were Minister of Forestry M. Prakosa and Minister for the Environment Nabiel Makarim. The ceremony was also attended by Colombia's Minister of Environment Juan Mayr Maldonado, Minister for Forest of Cote d'Ivoire Catherine Angele Boka Agoussi, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Kenichi Mizuno.

The Indonesian government and the ITTO secretariat have estimated that implementing measures simply to secure and prevent illegal logging in the planned 50 million hectares of protected forest and conservation areas in Indonesia would require US$40 million annually.

"Regretfully, the international community is providing less than $12 million a year to assist Indonesia with forest protection, including forest law enforcement and the prevention of illegal logging," Filho said.

"Making sustainable forest management financially viable is an immediate challenge if forest destruction is to be minimized."

He asserted that although a 'global forest fund' did exist to assist producer countries to achieve sustainable forest management, the money contributed to this fund had not yet been at a scale that would enable it to have a major impact towards achieving its objective.

"I believe we should consider a massive public education campaign to popularize the notion that the global services provided by natural forests need to be paid for by the international community -- by which I mean concerned citizens, governments, corporations, and conservation organizations in the world's richer countries," he said.

Some 400 people from at least 57 countries participated in the meeting. They represent governments, environmental non- governmental organizations, timber trade representatives and intergovernmental agencies.