Forest summit promises closer ties for poor nations
By Jonny Hogg and Christian Tsoumou
BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Leaders from the world's three largest forest basins said they would work together to tackle deforestation, on the final day of a weeklong conference, in Brazzaville.
Heads of state and ministers from countries in the Amazon, Congo and Borneo-Mekong basins signed a declaration recognising the need to protect their forests in the fight against climate change, but stopped short of agreeing on a formal structure for co-operation.
"(The governments) agree to adopt concrete steps to promote dialogue among their countries. They mandate their relevant ministers to meet and prepare an action plan on co-operation on sustainable management of forests," the joint declaration said.
Before the announcement, Brazilian minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira told Reuters the summit was a chance for very different countries with similar forestry concerns to talk.
"It's very important that we see the different cultural aspects but I really believe we can work together," she said.
The declaration saw Guyana's president Bharrat Jagdeo appointed roving ambassador representing the interest of the three forest basins.
Earlier in the day he had delivered a speech warning developed countries that poorer nations could abandon attempts to conserve their natural resources if funding issues weren't resolved.
The declaration also called for the international community to support efforts to avoid deforestation.
The summit focused on how countries could access an estimated $4 billion pledged by richer countries to help tackle climate change through the United Nations REDD+ scheme, which aims to create financial value for carbon stored in forests.
The Congo, Amazon and Borneo-Mekong basins make up 80 percent of the world's equatorial forests, and are home to two thirds of the world's land-based biodiversity and 300 million people, many of whom rely on the forests to survive.
Halting deforestation in the three regions, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's forest held carbon, is seen as crucial to the fight against climate change.
The forests are under threat, losing 5.4 million hectares every year, mainly to agriculture, a UN report said.
Laurent Some from conservation group World Wildlife Fund for Nature, said at the close of the summit that an important first step had been taken to foster co-operation between the world's densely forested countries.
"We expected more meat, more tangible commitment (from the declaration) but it's a long process. I am optimistic" he said.
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