Ministers from the AsiaPacific region, with Brunei
By Pratch Rujivanarom
THE MINISTERS of Asia-Pacific countries have pledged to transform the commitments from 2015 Paris Climate Conference to real implementation via sustainable forest management that requires participation from all stakeholders, during the second Asia-Pacific
The action plans to reforest the rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region through sustainable financing, landscape management, policy frameworks, and green economics were discussed during the event that was the sequel from the first regional rainforest summit in Sydney two years ago with all 10 Asean members attending the event.
Brunei Primary Resource and Tourism Minister Haji Ali bin Apong stated that the reforestation goal for Brunei is to cover 55 per cent of the country with the cooperation between state and private sectors.
“We intend to increase our forest estate to 55 per cent of Brunei’s land area. With this goal, our forestry sector will be welcoming partners from government and private sectors in the sustainable management of our forest and forest resources,” Haji Ali said.
Not only Brunei pledged to push the ambitious reforestation plan. It was also disclosed at the summit that Laos also planned to increase its forest area to 70 per cent of the country by 2020. While Myanmar has set a target to have 30 per cent of its total land area by 2030, as per their commitments in the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21).
This goal associated with the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment, cited by Haji Ali, which reported that the forests in the Asia-Pacific region have increased by 5 million hectares since 2010 and 20 million hectares since 2000. Currently, the region has 723 million hectares of forest or around 18 per cent of overall global forested areas.
However, it was cautioned in the report that the deforestation from activities such as farmland expansion, infrastructure development, and forest fires, were still the main challenges for many countries in the region.
Next critical step
Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg stressed that it was time to take the next critical step from the commitments that had been made at COP21.
“The Paris Agreement provides us with a global framework to drive a unified and effective response. The critical role of forests is acknowledged in Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, which urges countries to take action to conserve and enhance forests, including through reducing deforestation and forest degradation,” Frydenberg said.
However, he said while many countries have made the remarkable commitments, the next crucial step was to turn these commitments into action, and this action into investable plans and bankable projects.
Similar comments were also made by Peter Holmgren, director-general of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), that it was now the turning point to transform political commitments into real-world actions and suggested that sustainable reforestation can be reached by the integration of economic, environment and social aspirations.
According to CIFOR, the rainforest in the Asia Pacific covers around 26 per cent of the region’s total area and helps sustain the livelihoods of more than 450 million people.