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News release

President Megawati calls for more international cooperation on forests

Denpasar, Indonesia, 13 May 2002

More international assistance is needed to achieve sustainable forest management in Indonesia, according to Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Speaking at the opening of the 32nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, President Megawati said that the sustainable use of Indonesia's large forest resource was an essential part of national development.

"Our Constitution has mandated that we must utilize such natural assets to the best interest and the welfare of our people," she said.

However, while Indonesia was striving hard to combat a wide range of problems in forest management, it lacked the means to solve such problems without help.

"It is impossible for us alone to effectively handle illegal logging and illegal trading practices," she said, adding that these were driven partly by international demand. "There is therefore an urgent need for more concrete international cooperation to curb those practices which essentially endanger the future of mankind."

President Megawati said that the Indonesian Government was also placing particular emphasis on forest rehabilitation and conservation.

"Through this forum, I appeal to those who have concern with forest conservation to support and help us in these endeavours so that we can restore our forest," she said.

Also speaking at the opening of the session were Council Chairman Dr Juergen Blaser, ITTO Executive Director Dr Manoel Sobral, and Governor of Bali Mr Dewa Made Beratha. Dr Blaser proposed a 'Bali Initiative' to support the implementation of ITTO's recently formulated guidelines on forest restoration and secondary forest management and to put these issues to the forefront of the international forests agenda.

Dr Sobral told delegates that the annual international assistance needed to adequately protect Indonesia's 50 million hectares of conservation forest areas was estimated to be US$40 million and he called for more efforts to meet these costs. He also suggested a global public awareness campaign to popularize the notion that the global services provided by natural tropical forests should be paid for by the international community.

A welcome address by Mr Beratha was followed by the sounding of a gong by President Megawati to formally signify the opening of the Session.

For more information contact Mr Collins Ahadome, ITTO Information Officer, itto@itto.or.jp