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NEWS RELEASE No: 1374424 JUNE 2010

Spotlight on forests’ vital role in tackling climate change

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Aeroplane vapour trail in the sky above the forest

Some of the world’s most influential experts on forests and how they can help to tackle climate change and other problems will gather in Edinburgh, Scotland next week. (w/b Monday 28 June)

They will be attending the 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference, the theme of which is “Restoring the Commonwealth’s Forests: Tackling climate Change”.

Delegates and speakers will be particularly looking at how the world’s threatened forests can be protected from being removed or degraded, and how lost forests can be restored.

The British Forestry Commission is organising the conference on behalf of the host UK Government, and Libby Jones from the Commission said,

“Many Commonwealth countries have extensive experience of restoring lost and degraded forests, and the Commonwealth has taken a global lead in understanding and harnessing forests’ vital role in tackling climate change.

“The conference will therefore be an excellent forum for sharing the knowledge gained from this experience with the rest of the world. It can also be a catalyst for co-operative action to promote responsible forest restoration and sustainable forest management.”

The programme includes some highly respected international speakers, including:

  • James Singh, Guyana’s Commissioner of Forests, who will speak about Guyana’s experiences with the REDD+ programme for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forest loss and degradation;
  • Jan McAlpine, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, who will address “Global Challenges: The Case for Action”;
  • Bill Jackson, Deputy Director-General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN);
  • Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Head of the UN Forestry Department at the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO);
  • Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will officially open the conference;
  • Roseanna Cunningham, Environment Minister in the Scottish Government;
  • Justin Mundy, Director of the Prince’s Rainforest Project;
  • Dr Isabella Bovolo and Dr Elizabeth Losos of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation;
  • Adam Whitmore, head of climate change projects for mining company Rio Tinto plc;
  • Pavan Sukhdev, Head of the Green Economy Initiative at the UN Environment Programme; and
  • Hosny El Lakany, Chair of the International Partnership for Forestry Education.

The conference concludes on Friday 2 July with a choice of field trips to see Scottish forestry in action, including an ambitious native forest restoration programme in the spectacular Trossachs region.

Full details of the conference are available at


  1. The Commonwealth is an association of 54 independent states around the world, most of which are former British colonies, dependencies and other territories. It has a combined total population of 1.8 billion people – 30 per cent of the world’s population – and about 20 per cent of the world’s forest area. Member nations work together to improve the lives of their citizens in an atmosphere of shared co-operation and understanding. Forestry plays a fundamental part in the lives and economies of the Commonwealth’s citizens and countries, and there are significant forest resources and forestry expertise throughout the Commonwealth.
  2. The Commonwealth Forestry Conferences are held approximately every four years. They bring together and share the knowledge and experience of foresters from Commonwealth and other state forest services, industry, research bodies and non-government organisations (NGOs) as well as experts from other disciplines that impinge on forestry and on which forestry impinges, such as economists, social scientists and environmental scientists. The conferences are highly regarded by forest services, which recognise them as a valuable forum for maintaining contact and exchanging knowledge and broadening experience. Conference discussions can make a real contribution to the sustainable management, conservation and development of the world’s forests.
  3. The Forestry Commission is the UK’s government department for forestry in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales - Northern Ireland is served by the separate Forest Service of Northern Ireland). The Commission manages one million hectares of public forest land for multiple purposes, supports other woodland owners with grants, felling licences, regulation and advice, and advises Ministers in the UK, Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments on forestry policy. Through its Forest Research arm, it conducts scientific research and technical development relevant to forestry for internal and external clients. For further information visit and

MEDIA CONTACT: To attend any parts of the conference or to arrange interviews of key participants, please contact Charlton Clark, +44 131 314 6500;