- OTTAWA (CP) - From Thailand to Canada,
the world's forests are being exploited beyond their ability to reproduce,
says a report by a commission set up by former world leaders.
- The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable
Development calls in a report released Monday for preservation of the world's
remaining primary-growth forests -- those that have never been logged.
- After hearings on five continents, the
commission concludes that drastic policy changes are needed if forests
are to be managed on a sustainable basis.
- "We have reached the limit,"
Ola Ullsten, co-chairman of the commission and former prime minister of
Sweden, said in an interview.
- "We are turning forests to other
uses, not just logging, at a rate of about 10 (million) to 15 million hectares
- "That is the size of Portugal. It's
an enormous area of forest land disappearing in front of our eyes every
day and there's no sign that it's slowing down."
- Ullsten said there is no need to over-harvest
forests because global demand for wood and wood-fibre can be met without
- Among the findings of the report:
- Forests have virtually disappeared in
25 countries; 18 have lost more than 95 per cent of their forests and 11
have lost 90 per cent.
- About 24 million hectares of tropical
forest have been lost annually since 1980.
- About 75 per cent of the world's mammals
are threatened by forest decline.
- One quarter of Europe's trees show signs
of significant leaf loss due to air pollution.
- "The decline is relentless,"
says the report. "We suspect it could change the very character of
the planet and of the human enterprise within a few years unless we make
- The World Commission on Forests was founded
following Earth Summit in 1992 by 30 former heads of government and state,
including former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
- Ullsten said there are signs of improvement
in Canada's forest record and he praised forest company MacMillan Bloedel
for agreeing to end clearcutting.
- The report calls for creation of an international
Forest Management Council and Forest Ombudsman to monitor corruption and
mismanagement, set forestry standards and acknowledge excellence.
- "Innovation is desperately needed
if the world is to prevent the deepening of the forest crisis," says
the report titled Our Forests ... Our Future.
- "New ways must be found to slow
and ultimately reverse forest decline."
- Ullsten said Canada has a special responsibility
because it still has 20 to 25 per cent of its primary forest. In comparison,
Sweden retains about seven per cent of its original forest.
- He conceded no one can predict what would
happen if the forests are lost, but it's well known they play a vital role
protecting watersheds, providing wildlife habitat and maintaining the climate.
- "If we don't know exactly what's
happening, but we have reason to believe what's happening will be disastrous
for us, then we'd better not try to experiment with it."