One of the main agenda items tabled for the Ministerial Meeting on Forests is international cooperation on forest fires. Forest fires are a significant precipitating cause of deforestation and they emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. Until now, cooperation on forest fire management focused on fire suppression. However, there is growing recognition that forest fires are directly linked with forest management – better managed forests contribute to less forest fires. The causes of forest fires also often lie outside the forestry sector, such as the application of slash-and-burn for agriculture. The ministers at the meeting will, therefore, discuss opportunities for cooperation at local, regional and international levels to address forest fires at the root cause.
The Ministerial Meeting will also address the international commitment to sustainable forest management, and the role of the forest sector in the rehabilitation of Asian communities following the tsunami disaster of 26 December 2004.
Approximately 50 ministers have confirmed their attendance to the Ministerial Meeting. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO, and Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, will address the opening session.