Call for close ties to protect forests in Asean

FOREST CRUSADERS: Dr Pham (seated fifth left) and Zurinah Pawanteh (seated fifth right) posing with the rest of the delegates at the meeting.

KUCHING: Asean member states (AMS) and their partners who have a common interest in forestry in the region must forge close ties.

In making the call, Forest Service Institute of Vietnam (Planning and Science Division) vice-chief Dr Pham Duc Chien said this was important because the 213 million hectares of forest cover in the region constituted about 20 per cent of the world’s cover.

“It (forests) not only contributes to socio-economic development, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation at national, regional and global levels, but also in coping with global climate change issues.

“Therefore, Asean member states need to be in one spirit to welcome the initiative by the Republic of Korea (ROK) to elaborate on the agreement which calls for the establishment of Asean Korea Forest Cooperation Organisation (AFoCO).”

She said this in her speech to 16 forestry delegates from Asean countries attending a three-day ‘The Special Asean Meeting on Forestry and the 2nd Special Technical Meeting on Asean – Republic of Korea (ROK) Forest Cooperation’ which started here yesterday.

“With strong commitment from AMS and ROK on the agreement implementation, we believe the cooperation between us in the rehabilitation of degraded land and forest biodiversity, prevention of forests disasters, conservation, capacity building, technology transfer and development related to forests will be strengthened.”

Meanwhile, Asean Senior Officer of Forest (ASOF) leader in Malaysia, Zurinah Pawanteh, said 56.4 per cent of the land mass in Malaysia was currently covered by forest. This showed that Malaysia was fully committed to the implementation of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) as enshrined in the resolution of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Unced).

She added that this commitment had also fulfilled the aspirations of the Malaysian government to have at least 50 per cent of the country’s land area under green cover.

“The success is attributed to our continuous implementation of SFM to ensure effective utilisation, conservation and protection of our invaluable forest reserves.”

Also present at the meeting were the director of International Division Korea Forest Services, Dr Yong-Kwon Lee, and the director and head of Agriculture Industries and Natural Resources Division of the Asean Secretatriat, Suriyan Vichitlekarn.

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