Illegal Logging on Agenda at Unique G8 Meeting

Latest update: Since international regulations have not achieved the required improvement, the German Environment Minister Trittin will - by a new "Ancient Forest Protection Law" - make the trading of illegally cut and/or not certified timber a criminal offence in Germany. The proof that timber does not come from ancient forests will have to be provided by the timber industry through independent certification bodies, recognized by the German Government..

Illegal Logging on Agenda at Unique G8 Meeting

Fri Mar 18, 4:36 AMET

by Jeremy Lovell

BREADSALL, England (Reuters) - Disagreement over moves to end illegal logging that is destroying rain forests overshadowed a unique meeting on Friday of environment and development ministers from the Group of Eight rich nations.

Britain, as president of the G8 this year, wants to take tough measures including bringing in new trade laws to curb the devastating trade estimated to be worth $15 billion a year.

But the United States, while agreeing there should be help given to the logging nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America to end the illegal side of the lucrative business, is adamant there should be no change to existing trade rules.

"We know the United States has a problem with public procurement. But that won't stop other countries acting unilaterally as Britain has," said one official. "At the end of the day we want a package we can all agree on."

Surrounded by intense security at a country hotel 190 km (120 miles) north of London to deter would-be protesters, the meeting is the first between these G8 ministers.

Apart from illegal logging, the only other item on the table was British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s pet project -- the Commission for Africa report published one week ago.

Blair has put Africa and global warming at the top of the agenda for the G8 summit at the Gleneagles golf course in Scotland in July.

The report contains ambitious plans to slash debts, make world trade fairer, give millions of dollars more in better-directed aid and eradicate disease.

But officials at the meeting said the draft text circulated on Thursday afternoon by Britain was long on rhetoric and short on detail.

"On Africa it is couched in terms of broad principles agreeing there is a huge problem in Africa where the negative effects of climate change are already being felt, but no specific actions," an official said on the grounds of anonymity.

But the United States has dismissed calls for massive debt relief and British plans for a major new aid financing vehicle which are the core of what has been described by its proponents as a Marshall Plan for Africa.

The Marshall Plan was the U.S.-financed vehicle to rebuild Europe after World War II as a bastion against Soviet expansion.

But it is not all one-sided. Blair's Africa report also urged African nations to clean up their own acts -- insisting on eradicating corruption and installing good governance.

The Anti-G8 movement, in a dry-run for Gleneagles, has offered a prize for anyone hitting a minister with a pie, planting a skull and cross-bone flag on the 18th hole or invading British Environment Minister Margaret Beckett's room.



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