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
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
Forests provide more than wood or non-wood
products. They also contribute to conserving biodiversity, mitigating
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,
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
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."
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
the next IWC annual meeting to write a conservation agenda that
can be considered for adoption at that 2004 meeting.
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