APEC to boost forest land by 20 million hectares

Updated: 2013-08-17 09:47


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LIMA - Members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) pledge on Friday to boost their combined forest land by 20 million hectares by 2020 at a two-day meeting in Cusco, Peru.

The pledge, contained in the Cusco Declaration issued Friday by APEC ministers of forestry after the meeting, also involves developing a policy of sustainable exploitation to protect the region's natural resources.

As the host of the ministerial meeting, Peruvian Agriculture Minister Milton Hesse said the final declaration signed by the ministers also calls on the members to develop environmental projects that foster the preservation of forests.

The addition of millions of hectares of forest is an "ambitious goal," said Hesse, adding all members pledged to work toward the common objective.

To that end, he said, Peru would share its experience in creating a legal framework for protecting forests in the Andean country.

APEC Secretary Allan Bollard said that forest conservation is not solely a matter of environmental and production policies, but also linked to social and economic development issues.

The natural resources of forests are directly related to economic activity in APEC members, he said, adding that around 80 percent of forest-related trade worldwide takes place in APEC members.

The ministers stressed in the declaration the need to respect and recognize the indigenous communities' ancestral knowledge of their environment and sustainable practices.

Peru is home to Latin America's second-largest extension of forest land, with 70 percent of its territory forming part of the Amazon.

The APEC groups 21 members in the Asia-Pacific region.