One of the key agreements reached at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the Principles of Forest Management. The Principles of Forest Management stated that forests, with their complex ecology, are essential to sustainable development economy and the maintenance of all forms of life. Forests provide wood, food, and medicine and contain a biological diversity as yet not fully uncovered. They also act as reservoirs (sinks) for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere by human processes, which may be contributing towards global warming. As well as the scientific benefits of forests, they also provide a home to wildlife and fulfil our cultural and spiritual needs.
The Principles of Forest Management assert the right of nations to profit from their own forest resources, but recommend that this should occur within a framework of forest protection, management and conservation. The principles are not legally binding but provide recommendations on sustainable practice.
The Principles of Forest Management include a number of points.
- All nations should take part in “the greening of the world” through planting and conserving forests.
- Forests should be managed in order to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations.
- Unique examples of forest should be protected, for example ancient forests and forests with cultural, historical, spiritual and religious importance.
- Pollutants that harm forests should be controlled.
- Forestry plans should consider the non-economic values of forests and the environmental consequences of their management. Forest degradation should be avoided.