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SOS Rhino : In the News : Lost Revenues from Illegal Logging Top $10 Billion

Lost Revenues from Illegal Logging Top $10 Billion


GENEVA, Switzerland, May 22, 2003 (ENS) - Annual losses from illegal logging exceed $10 billion, according to a new report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. The report on the economic aspects of forests, which was prepared in collaboration with the World Bank, estimates the net loss of forests in the 1990s was 94 million hectares - an area larger than Venezuela.

In addition, undervaluing the economic worth of forests causes governments around the world to lose some $5 billion a year in taxes and royalties. This amount is equal to more than three times the level of official development assistance for financing sustainable forest management, the secretary-general's report states.

The report was issued in advance of the third session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) meeting here from May 26 to June 6. The economic aspect of forests is one of three key issues that will be discussed at the forum. Maintenance of forest cover to meet present and future needs, as well as forest health and productivity are also on the agenda.

" Healthy market practices and responsible forest policies are the best tools for achieving sustainable forest management," said Pekka Patosaari, coordinator for the UNFF, the key intergovernmental body to facilitate and coordinate implementation of sustainable forest management worldwide.

Inadequate tax collection decreases government revenues, poses as a disguised subsidy to producers, and reinforces wasteful logging, the secretary-general's report says, and improper accounting of forest resources and poor forest valuation are to blame for the losses. "With prices that do not reflect the real value of the products and malfunctioning market mechanisms, illegal economic activities flourish and forest cover continues to decline."

In developing countries, with scarce resources and capacity, forest data is often hard to come by. But even where information on the value of wood products is available, the report says, the system of collecting revenues from logging fails to capture the real price of timber.

Forests provide more than wood or non-wood products. They also contribute to conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, protecting watersheds, and generating employment, as well as having recreational and spiritual value.

In a message marking the International Day for Biological Diversity, which is observed 22 May, Annan declared, "Biodiversity is an essential heritage for all humankind. Stopping its loss, and guaranteeing the continued functioning of the earth's ecosystems - both marine and terrestrial - should be a high priority for everyone."

" The preservation of biodiversity is not just a job for governments," Annan said. "International and nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and each and every individual have a role to play in changing entrenched outlooks and ending destructive patterns of behavior.

" The involvement of local communities is particularly important, he said, "since many have already devised innovative approaches in resource management and other areas from which others can learn."
into an organization internationally recognized "for its meaningful contributions to the conservation of great whales."

The Initiative proposes that the IWC establish a Conservation Committee supported with adequate funding. If the Initiative is approved by the IWC members in June, the Conservation Committee would meet before the next IWC annual meeting to write a conservation agenda that can be considered for adoption at that 2004 meeting.

Noting that since the IWC was established in 1948, many other international conventions affecting the survival of the great whales have entered into force, such as the UN Law of the Sea, and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, the Conservation Committee would "explore how the Commission can coordinate its conservation agenda

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