- Around the Commonwealth
- Commonwealth initiatives
- Deforestation remains the major challenge particularly for some African and South Asian member countries: Nigeria (with forests shrinking 48% in the period 1990-2010), Uganda (-37%), Ghana (-34%), Pakistan (-33%) and Sri Lanka (-21%). On the other hand, several member states in the same regions have had increases in forest space: Rwanda and Swaziland (forests grew in area by 37% and 19% respectiviely in the period 1990-2010), and India (with its vast land area, a sturdy 7%).
- Most of the Caribbean member states do not have a large forest area and hence a timber industry. They import their forest products, mainly from fellow member states Belize and Guyana. There has been a major drive to utilise forests as a lure for ecotourism to the region, whilst protecting the surrounding environment.
- In North America, Canada, with its vast forests, leads the Commonwealth in the production of paper. There has been no signicant change in the size of Canada’s forest area since 1990.
- Since 1990 Commonwealth member states in Europe have been successful in maintaining and growing their forests. The UK currently has a successful and sustainable timber industry. UK forests grew by 10% in the period 1990-2010, and Cyprus 7%.
- In Southeast Asia Malaysia has for a long time been successful in harvesting lucrative produce from plantation crops, especially rubber and Brunei Darussalam has been producing sawed wood for the local market.
- Pacific countries New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have substantial forestry resources. The forestry sectors in both countries contribute significantly to the countries’ GDPs and socio-economic development. Samoa registered the strongest growth in the Commonwealth Pacific and the second biggest growth in Commonwealth: an overall growth of 32% from 1990 to 2010.
Forestry around the Commonwealth
The Commonwealth has 810 million hectares of forests, over one-fifth of the world total. Forests are an important source of livelihood for hundreds of millions of the Commonwealth’s rural poor and a macroeconomic pillar, considerably contributing to the GDPs of several countries. Deforestation is the major threat. In 2008 the Commonwealth Secretariat reported that Commonwealth countries had double the global deforestation rate.
Commonwealth initiatives in the forestry sector
Established in 1921, the Commonwealth Forestry Association (CFA) is the oldest international forestry association and most prominent in the Commonwealth. The mission of the CFA is to promote good management, use and conservation of forests and forest lands.
Various initiatives by Commonwealth governments have been successful in protecting forests. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana manages the nearly one million acre Iwokrama Forest in central Guyana. The Centre was formed as a result of proposals made at the 1989 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The aim of the Centre is to show how tropical forests can be conserved and sustainably used to provide ecological, social and economic benefits to local, national and international communities.