HC Deb 11 November 1998 vol 319 cc209-10W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures her Department has taken to encourage tropical nations to maintain the size and diversity of their rain forests. [58715]

Clare Short

My Department's aim is the elimination of poverty through the promotion of sustainable development, including conservation of the environment. Our approach towards the conservation of rain forests and the problem of deforestation is to support work with our country partners bilaterally and multilaterally to improve management of forest resources in ways that lead to a range of benefits to poor communities as well as helping to secure the global environmental benefits that forests offer. These activities positively encourage partner countries to protect and maintain the size and diversity of their forests.

Our approach to forests, encompasses a wide range of interventions from policy and sector planning, institutional development, education and training, through to forest information systems, forest management, forest conservation and research. The current portfolio of projects represents a commitment of £128 million.

In the past year, DFID has also supported a number of important new initiatives, for example: a grant of £3 million to the Guyana Sustainable Human Development Project, which will benefit forest-dependent communities encircling the Iwokrama Rain Forest. a grant of £2 million to the UNDP's Global Programme on Forests: Forest Management to Support Sustainable Livelihoods Project, which will promote public and private sector partnerships for sustainable forest management. a grant of £400,000 to the FRA 2000 project-FAO's global assessment of the status and condition of forest resources.

DFID also played an active part in the development and implementation of the Action Programme on Forests which was approved by Foreign Ministers and endorsed by Heads of Government at the G8 Birmingham Summit. This commits G8 Members to a range of specific measures at domestic and international levels designed to support sustainable forest management. DFID is also actively involved in the UN Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, whose remit is to promote and facilitate the implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) proposals for action, and reviewing, monitoring and reporting on progress in the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. The UNDP Global Programme on Forests to which DFID has provided a substantial contribution will concentrate on the implementation of the IPF' s proposals for action. DFID also continues to support the work of the International Tropical Timber Organisation, which is dedicated to promoting the conservation, sustainable management and rational utilisation and trade of the world's tropical forest resources, through international co-operation.

Details of my Department's forestry activities are set out in our publications: forests MATTER and our DFID Forestry Sector Projects, both of which are in the Library of the House and are available from DFID' s Environment Policy Department.