Bad land-planning adds to destruction of world's rainforests, leads to conflict, and impoverishes local people



12th January 2006: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bad land-planning adds to destruction of world's rainforests, leads to conflict, and impoverishes local people

The world's rainforests continue to disappear at an alarming rate despite attempts by national governments and international agencies to 'zone' forests into areas for protection and management, a new report by the Rainforest Foundation reveals today [1]. The report, 'Divided Forests' [2] shows that large-scale forest planning exercises in countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon have been seriously flawed, resulting in vast areas being allocated to timber companies which then damaged or destroyed the forest.

A particular problem with most large-scale 'forest zoning' exercises has been the failure to involve, or take account of, people living in the forest and depending on it for their survival. In countries such as Cameroon, whose entire area of rainforest was zoned in the 1990s using satellite images, this has resulted in the imposition of timber-felling areas over the forests needed for peoples' livelihoods, causing persistent local conflict.

The report warns that current efforts, backed by the World Bank, to 'zone' the world's second largest rainforest - that of the Democratic Republic of Congo - could also have disastrous consequences, with as much as 600,000 square kilometres at risk of being felled for timber [3].

"The zoning of rainforests has a huge impact on forest peoples' survival, on their livelihoods, as well as on biodiversity," says report author Alison Hoare. Rainforest Foundation Director Simon Counsell said, " Large-scale forest zoning should be based on meticulous ground-truthing, taking into account subsistence uses of forests, and on the traditional rights held by local people. It is not good enough to simply carve-up forests on the basis of satellite images, giving the lions'-share to logging companies".

For further information:

Simon Counsell,
Rainforest Foundation

T (office): +44 (0) 207 251 6345 T


[1] The Rainforest Foundation UK supports indigenous people and traditional populations of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfil their rights.

[2] 'Divided Forests: towards fairer zoning of forest lands' includes case studies of forest zoning exercises in Brazil, Australia, Cameroon and Indonesia. The report sets out recommendations to help ensure that the environmental and social impacts of large-scale zoning are taken into account. The report can be downloaded free from

[3] A national forest zoning exercise, funded by the World Bank, was recently initiated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which eventually could cover the country's entire 1 million square kilometres of forest. According to the World Bank, up to 35 million of DRC's people depend at least partly on the forest for their survival, but World Bank documents also suggest that 600,000 square kilometres of forest could eventually become zoned for industrial timber production.



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Januar 2006

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