UN Forest Forum catalyzes commitment - IUCN

04 February 2011 | International news release

New York, USA, 4 February, 2011 (IUCN) – A new momentum from governments, ready to commit to restoring forests, was clearly on show at the 9th UN Forum on Forests (UNFF9), says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).  

“A highlight of UNFF9 was the announcement of the Rwandan government’s plans to restore the country’s degraded landscapes border-to-border,” says Stewart Maginnis, IUCN’s Director of Environment and Development. “These plans are bold and much needed and we urge other countries to recognize the potential of healthy forests and to commit to restoring their lands.”

“What Rwanda announced is the biggest commitment a country can make to giving nature a helping hand and reversing deforestation and forest degradation,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “If other countries are inspired by Rwanda and follow suit, then what we could be witnessing is the beginning of the largest restoration initiative the world has ever seen.”

The aim of Rwanda’s Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative is to achieve a country-wide reversal of the current degradation of soil, water, land and forest resources by 2035. At UNFF9 the Government of Canada, the Global Environmental Facility and IUCN expressed their support for the Rwandan initiative and many other partners are expected to join in.

“A key message from UNFF9 has been the importance of forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication. We need to grow forest partnerships with communities, governments and the private sector to effectively remove barriers to local control of forests and maximize the value of forests for all,” says Carole Saint Laurent IUCN’s Senior Forest Policy Advisor. “And we must also find ways to promote and reward local practices that are good for the community, good for the country and, ultimately, good for the planet.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 13 million hectares of the world’s forests are lost every year, mainly as a result of converting forest land to other uses. At least 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods, the majority of them poor inhabitants of areas next to forests; while an estimated 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, live in forests.

“UNFF9 has launched the International Year of Forests with a bang, and will continue to be a vital platform for educating the world about the value of forests and for catalyzing commitment,” adds Maginnis.

Spokespeople:

Stewart Maginnis, IUCN’s Director of Environment and Development, stewart.maginnis@iucn.org
Carole Saint Laurent, IUCN’s Senior Forest Policy Advisor, carsaintl@bellnet.ca

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 798574072, e borjana.pervan@iucn.org
Brian Thomson, IUCN Media Relations, t+41 797218326, e brian.thomson@iucn.org
Daniel Shaw, IUCN Forest Communications, t+41 22999168, e daniel.shaw@iucn.org