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World’s Forest Protected Areas Under Threat

New findings released Thursday by the World Bank/World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Alliance reveal that less than one quarter of declared national parks, wildlife refuges, and other protected areas in 10 key forested countries were well managed, and many had no management at all.

What this means is that only 1 percent of these areas are secure from serious threats such as human settlement, agriculture, logging, hunting, mining, pollution, war, and tourism, among other pressures.

Visit the Alliance web site at http://www-esd.worldbank.org/wwf

In response to the findings from a study conducted by the World Conservation Union for the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and WWF-US President Kathryn S. Fuller yesterday adopted a new target for converting these so called "paper parks" into effectively managed areas.

The target calls for 50 million hectares [125 million acres] of existing but highly threatened forest protected area to be secured under effective management by the year 2005. To achieve this goal, the Alliance will continue to work with governments, conservation organizations, indigenous people and other stakeholders to identify the world's most threatened parks and to develop a system for implementation, improving and monitoring management of these protected areas.

"This new research highlights the urgent need to manage these protected areas more effectively so that they are secure for the people and wildlife who depend upon them for their survival" said Fuller.

The findings, among others, are outlined in the World Bank/WWF Alliance's first annual report released Thursday by Wolfensohn and Fuller.

The Alliance is working worldwide, from Vietnam where it has helped to mobilize more than $1 million private-sector investment from the Tropical Forest Fund, an association of furniture buyers committed to sustainable forestry, to Georgia in Eastern Europe, where WWF and World Bank collaboration catalyzed action that led to the passage of a new forestry code that should halt the devastation of that country's forests.

The Alliance has seen the governments of Brazil, Peru, and six nations of the Congo Basin commit to actions that once realized, will help the Alliance meet two-thirds of its target for new protected areas.

"Alleviating poverty and protecting the environment go hand in hand," says Wolfensohn. "This Alliance will help leverage our contract with nature, delivering real results on the ground."

Currently, the Alliance has projects in more than 22 countries worldwide and is continuing to form partnerships with other NGOs and governments to make their global vision for the future of the world's forests become a reality.

The World Bank, the largest provider of development assistance in the world, and WWF, the world's largest conservation organization, joined forces in April 1998 to protect the Earth's forests in an Alliance for forest conservation and sustainable use.

Helpful links: Copies of the report "Threats to Forest Protected Areas" and the Alliance’s first Annual Report can both be found on the Alliance web site at http://www-esd.worldbank.org/wwf.

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