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29 March 2007 - HSI congratulates Government on pioneering forest fund       

HSI congratulates Government on pioneering forest fund

Sydney, 29 March 2007        

Humane Society International (HSI) congratulates the Federal Government on the announcement today of a $200 million fund to combat global illegal logging and deforestation. This Australian-led initiative will specifically target forest destruction in south-east Asia, particularly Indonesia, where deforestation and forest fires associated with land clearing contribute to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions 

“Deforestation in Indonesia is escalating at an alarming rate, driven primarily by illegal logging and oil palm plantations to supply the burgeoning biofuels industry,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “Indonesia’s forests continue to be decimated by these industries while the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change crawls towards the implementation of a global agreement to reduce their impacts. Clearly, there is an urgent need for national governments to engage directly with the Indonesian government to stop deforestation and its impacts on both the local and global environment.”

HSI has been in talks with the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, over the implementation of direct approaches and strategies to help reduce deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction in Indonesia. HSI has also been lobbying for many years to have the Commonwealth join the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), whose partners include the World Bank, Conservation International and the Government of Japan, and which led in part to the establishment of the Australian Government’s Regional Natural Heritage Program (RNHP) - both programs targeting biodiversity hotspot conservation in S.E Asia. The announcement today of this global fund signals a recognition by the Howard Government that new, cost-effective approaches, in advance of new international agreements, are urgently required. 

It is expected that the global fund will provide much needed capacity building for developing countries. This will encourage conservation of native forests and ecologically sustainable forest industries, by assisting with the establishment of native forest conservation, management and monitoring systems, reforestation programs, and by assisting local communities involved in illegal and unsustainable logging and clearing operations to find alternative development and employment strategies.

“Indonesia’s rainforests and peatland swamps, and the people and animals that rely on them, are running out of time,” said Mr Kennedy. “The situation is dire; up to 98% of forests in Sumatra and Borneo are likely to be destroyed by 2022. Not only does this have alarming consequences for global atmospheric CO2, but it will also be directly responsible for the death of massive numbers of mammals, birds and other wildlife.”

HSI is pleased that the Federal government, in announcing this fund, has taken the lead in pioneering a global arrangement that will allow developed countries to take decisive and immediate action to stop this escalating environmental crisis. It is hoped that the Prime Minister and his relevant Ministers will establish a process that permits expert input and guidance from the Australian academic and conservation NGO community into Commonwealth / World Bank deliberations over program delivery.


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