NGO to Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit: Forests should be prosperous and productive

Pro-growth NGO says solution to illegal logging is aid, not trade bans

MELBOURNE, Nov 11, 2014 – World Growth chairman Alan Oxley today called on the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit to make rainforests prosperous and productive, not lock them away.

Mr Oxley made the comments upon releasing a new World Growth report, The Threat to Rainforests: Fact and Fiction.

“Environmental activists have manufactured a scare campaign that rainforests are endangered to advance their anti-growth philosophy,” said Mr Oxley. “By any international standard, rainforests are not on the verge of disappearing in South America, Equatorial Africa or Southeast Asia and the Pacific.”

The report shows forest cover in these regions is 50 to 60 percent of land in the equatorial latitudes, nearly double the forest cover in Europe where the ‘save the rainforest’ campaign is most active.

“Take the case of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest which activists claim is threatened. Eighty-six percent remains intact,” Oxley said.

He added that in all tropical forest regions, countries had set aside more than the 15 percent of forest necessary to ensure species are conserved, as stipulated by parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

“Environmental activists, prominently Greenpeace and WWF, have cynically put forward a case that tropical rainforests will disappear overnight and that illegal logging is rife. They also falsely contend developing countries can prosper by establishing carbon conservation programs, rather than selling timber products or using forest land for growing crops,” he said.

Mr Oxley said these campaign strategies had been developed to support the case that all commercial forestry should be halted, regardless of the economic harm that would cause.

“The facts are different. Consider illegal clearing of forest.  Most is done by the poor in the quest for fuelwood, shelter and land for subsistence farming,” he said. “The solution to illegal logging is aid, not trade bans”.

Mr Oxley said all countries understand what needs to be done to conserve biodiversity and manage forests sustainably. What they lack is the technical capability and financial resources to do so effectively.

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