HC Deb 23 March 1999 vol 328 c189W
Mr. Chaytor

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to assist in(a) the development of sustainable forest management and (b) the preservation of orangutan habitats in Indonesia; and if she will make a statement. [77646]

Mr. Foulkes

The Department for International Development's (DFID) aim is to help poor people in developing countries gain long-term benefits from their trees, while also helping secure the global environmental benefits that forests offer. Our approach to the problem of deforestation is to support work to improve the sustainable management of forest resources in ways that lead to a range of benefits to poor communities. For the world's poor, trees and forests are a vital part of everyday survival: forests give 2,000 million people fuel to cook with; in the tropics, forests meet a large part of the needs of several hundred million people from wood products and food to medicine and income; trees increase poor farmers' security as they smooth out seasonal flows of produce and provide a reserve of capital for emergencies; forests help agriculture and fisheries by recycling nutrients, stabilising soil and influencing local and global climate; and in 18 African countries, forests represent over 10 per cent. of GDP.

The Department's approach towards forestry is explained in the recent publication "Forests Matter" and our activities are set out in the pamphlet "Forest Sector Projects", which is being revised and will be placed in the Library of the House in due course. DFID is currently working on over 150 projects with partners in 34 countries.

We are directly assisting the Government of Indonesia and the people living in the forests to develop better ways of managing the forest resource sustainably. We have helped pilot approaches at provincial level that give poor people more of a say in forest management. We are now exploring with international agencies and representatives of forest users possible changes to forest sector policy. Our aim is to ensure that degradation of the forests is reversed and that poor people who live in and around the forests derive more benefits from the way they are managed. This will give wildlife dependent on the forest, including orang-utans, a better chance of survival.

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