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             26 September 2000


The United Nations University (UNU) is organizing "The Values of Forests - International Conference on Forests and Sustainable Development" on 12 and 13 October 2000 at UNU Centre in Tokyo. The objective of this conference is to highlight the true nature of the multiple values of forests in promoting sustainable development in order to determine the needed areas for future research and the gaps in forest management policies that need to be developed.

The meeting, which is being co-organized with the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (WCFSD), the Environment Agency of Japan, and the Forestry Agency of Japan is focused at highlighting the inherent values of Forests in various forms including historical, cultural, ecological and economic aspects. Senior officials and eminent scholars will attend the conference from academia, international organizations, governments and civil society.

Speakers include Wakako Hironaka, Member, House of Councillors, Japanese Diet; Ola Ullsten, Former Prime Minister of Sweden and Co-Chair of the WCFSD; Matti Palo of the Finnish Forest Research Institute; George Woodwell, President of The Woods Hole Research Center; naturalist and writer C.W. Nicol; and other distinguished scholars.

Key issues to be discussed in the conference are the proposal for an international year of forests, future forest management practices and valuation and awareness building. A copy of the programme is attached. Simultaneous English and Japanese interpretation will be provided.

Forests are the haven for much of the world's genetic biodiversity. Recent rapid deforestation is threatening not only biodiversity, but also the world's economy and in some instances its cultural heritage. Forests have virtually disappeared in 25 countries. Some 15 million hectares of forests are lost annually, largely in the tropics, and some US$45 billion per year are lost through poor forest management in developing countries alone. The decline of forests is so relentless that some experts believe that the character of the planet and of human enterprise may change within a few years unless clear and concrete action is taken to save the world's forests.

Registration and other information about the conference can be obtained through the official UNU web site:

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For further information please contact:

The UNU Public Affairs Section
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246
Fax (03) 3406-7346
UNU Global Environment Information Centre:
Tel.: (03) 3407-8107
Fax: (03) 3407-8164




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