The ASEAN community must co-operate more profoundly at all levels to promote sustainable forest management and development, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said.
Phat was speaking at the opening of the 15th meeting of senior ASEAN officials on forestry, an annual meeting chaired by forestry leaders in the region.
He said that although the forestry sector created jobs and contributed to the economic development of ASEAN countries, there were many common problems.
Phat said that the use of forest land for hydro-power plants, roads and agricultural production had reduced the quality and quantity of natural forests. And illegal logging and trading in wildlife were still popular pursuits.
Phat said ASEAN countries should share information, experiences and effective policies to help each other.
Nguyen Ba Ngai, deputy director of Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, said the destruction of forest land for other economic purposes occurred in many ASEAN countries. He said the Philippines is now coming to terms with the massive construction of hydro-power plants and cocoa farms on former forest land.
"Both countries agree that increases in the price of timber products will prevent people from eradicating forest land for other crops," he said.
He said ASEAN members should raise their voices over trans-border forest protection.
Viet Nam has signed a co-operative agreement with Cambodia and Laos on trans-border forestry protection and illegal logging prevention. Last year, four cases of illegal logging between Viet Nam and Laos were reported.
The forest coverage in ASEAN nations is reported to be 48 per cent, 19 per cent higher than in the rest of Asia.
Laos has the highest coverage with 67 per cent - and Singapore the lowest with three per cent. Viet Nam ranked seventh with 42 per cent.
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