Department Of Interior
|OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
|For Immediate Release: July 28, 2003
Washington- Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton hailed today's announcement of a presidential initiative to assist developing countries in their efforts to combat illegal logging and the environmental destruction and corruption associated with it.
Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging at a news conference Monday. Under the initiative, the U.S. government will work in partnership with the governments of developing nations as well as international organizations, conservation groups, businesses and others with an interest in stopping illegal logging.
"Illegal logging damages the environment, hurts wildlife, and undermines the rule of law in countries from Africa to South America," Norton said. "We have learned in America that a partnership approach to conservation is the most effective strategy. Under this initiative, we will work hand-in-hand with the governments and citizens of these countries to both stop illegal logging and foster sustainable management of forests through partnerships and other cooperative efforts."
President Bush called for the development of the initiative in February, 2001. The State Department is working closely with Interior and other federal agencies as well as multi-national organizations, the Smithsonian Institution, and U.S.-based industry and conservation groups.
Illegal logging destroys forest ecosystems, deprives national governments and local communities of needed revenues, under-prices legally harvested forest products on the world market, and finances regional conflict. The World Bank estimates that it costs developing countries $10 billion to $15 billion annually. It also harms threatened and endangered wildlife by destroying habitat and increasing poaching.
The United States has been a leader in raising international awareness of illegal logging and identifying actions to address it, most notably through the G-8, regional initiatives such as the South Asia and Africa Ministerial Conferences on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance, and bilateral development assistance activities.
"Illegal logging is a global problem that demands that we work together to find solutions," Norton said. "The United States has the resources and expertise to help developing countries bring the destruction to a halt. Working in partnership with many nations, we will make strides toward this goal."
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