Sunday, 6 February 2011

In UN Forest Week, Maathai Dodges on UNDP, Sri Lanka Dispute

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- Alongside UN inaction on Egypt, and lack of follow through on Darfur and Cote d'Ivoire, it's forest week at the UN. Wednesday the UN Food & Agriculture Organization's forestry expert Eduardo Rojas-Briales told the Press that, as a region, Asia is doing well. He named as Asian countries going the wrong way on forests Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste.

When Inner City Press asked him for details, he tied the forest backsliding to conflict, in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. There he said the conflict came to an end, but only recently.

Later on Wednesday, however, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN Palitha Kohona took issue with the FAO report. He said that because on the conflict, forests “just grew” and “no one could go hunting.” Then he cut away to speak to President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss.

The venue was a reception by Croatia presenting photos and even a video of its forests. The country's deputy prime minister, speaking in Croatian, said people should come not only for Zagreb and the coastline, but the trees. He handed out hearts carved of wood and painted red and green.

Speaking for the UN was China's Sha Zukang. Afterwards Inner City Press asked him about China's role in logging in the Congo, where huge trees are ripped out for cheap furniture. “Some trees have to come down,” he said, described massive replanting in China.

Wangari Maathai planted tree at UN: where is it now? REDD+ not shown

Sha Zukang's staffer disputed that the Amazon rainforest is shrinking. Inner City Press asked her about EarthFirst, putting metal spikes in trees that face the chainsaw. People who only say no, she replied, are stuck in the 1950s.

Above her the ceiling of this UN General Assembly entrance hall was peeling. There were salmon sandwiches, red and white white, the forestry ministers of Turkey and other countries. The 13 year old boy famous for his photos of “Stop Talking, Start Planting," Felix Finkbeiner, was there.

Earlier on Wednesday, Wangari Maathai of Kenya spoke. Inner City Press asked her about criticism of the REDD and REDD+ programs. She said that indigenous people were being taken into account.

When an enterprising reporter asking about a UNDP study saying the green jobs are not being achieved -- a position echoed by former UN climate envoy Yvo de Boer -- the UN moderator cut the question off, saying that of course Ms. Maathai couldn't answer for UNDP. Why not let a Nobel Peace Prize winner speak for herself? But the UN protects itself. as some forests are ravaged. Watch this site.

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