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Tropical Forests

Volume 174: debated on Monday 18 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what he is doing to fund research designed to increase the productivity of tropical forests, particularly non-timber products.

We are funding 40 projects at a total cost of £6·2 million under the forestry research programme managed for the ODA by the Oxford Forestry Institute. These include projects on, for example, agro-forestry and buffer zones. The Natureal Resources Institute is considering research on the economic potential of rain forest products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the new projects in preparation which will be financed from the new £100 million for rain forest-related projects.

As the Prime Minister told the hon. Member on 11 December 1989, at column 459, details of particular projects will be made known when formal agreement has been reached with the country concerned. I summarised recent developments in my speech to the rain forest harvest conference on 17 May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to strengthen forestry departments of tropical countries, where they are charged with conservation and management.

An ODA report on forestry projects of November 1989, a copy of which is in the Library, lists ongoing bilateral forestry projects aiming to strengthen forest departments in tropical countries. Many of the projects in preparation also have this as a major aim. I gave examples in my speech to the rain forest harvest conference on 17 May, a copy of which is also in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the contract with Professor Malcolm Wilkins, regius professor of botany at the university of Glasgow, on the development of space-based monitoring of rain forest.

Professor Wilkins has recommended that the ODA should contact the European Space Agency and the British National Space Centre. Officials will do this.