The Australian Government is increasing its commitment to the sustainable management and recovery of rainforests in the Asia-Pacific with the announcement today of $6 million from Australia’s aid program.

This funding will support regional efforts to combat illegal logging and bolster trade in legal forest products through building capacity for countries to sustainably manage their forests.

This commitment will also support economic growth in developing countries and help create pathways out of poverty.

Around 500 million people in the Asia-Pacific region depend on forests for subsistence and income. Illegal logging and corruption undermines community livelihoods and taxation streams of national governments. It is also a factor driving high deforestation rates in the region.

Australia has been a long-term supporter of working with the nations in our region to combat illegal logging. The new funding will continue this important work and support the third phase of the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) programme, due to start in July 2015.

It will also boost initiatives to protect Asia-Pacific’s rainforests, support a more sustainable timber trade and provide greater access to markets.

RAFT3 will work with business, land-owners and regional processors to develop certification systems to better measure, price and market certified timber and to conduct due diligence for sourcing legally logged timber.

This will help Australian businesses source sustainable forest products and bolster regional trade and growth.

Building on our commitment to slow rainforest loss, Australia is currently hosting an Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney.

The Summit brings together ministers from rainforest countries across the region and leaders from international organisations, business and civil society to find practical ways to reduce rainforest loss and restore rainforest landscapes.

It is vital that countries in the Asia-Pacific region work together to reduce deforestation.

Rainforests are critical for managing the Earth’s climate as they capture and store millions of tonnes of carbon. With Asia-Pacific home to around 6.2 per cent of the world’s forests, reducing forest loss can make a practical difference to reducing global carbon emissions.

The Rainforest Summit precedes the World Parks Congress to be held in Sydney from 12 to 19 November.

Further details are available from www.environment.gov.au/rainforestsummit

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