WELLINGTON, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- The wooden furniture industries in China and Vietnam are models for the sustainable exploitation of forest in the Asia-Pacific region, delegates to the Asia- Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) session in New Zealand heard Tuesday.
While the forest sector contributed more than 450 billion U.S. dollars to the global economy each year, far more could be achieved by increasing the volume and improving the quality of products and services available in the forest of the region in more efficient and sustainable way, regional forestry experts of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
"The global economic crisis in 2008 taught us many lessons, among them the importance of forestry in food security. Indeed, it is forest which help ensure our reliable supplies of clean water and without water, there is no food," FAO assistant director- general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific Hiroyuki Konuma said in a statement.
"A large number of people are dependent on forests and their products for their livelihoods, hence the need to focus on prosperity in forestry development policies and programs."
The multi-billion dollar wooden furniture industries of China and Vietnam were examples of the enormous potential for adding value and creating new jobs in the fight against poverty and hunger.
"A proactive prosperity-enhancing approach must be pursued and more efficient economic activity in the forest sector has the potential to assist us in that regard."
Leading forestry experts and policy-makers from 33 member countries are attending the 25th biannual session of the APFC, hosted by the New Zealand government in Rotorua, under the theme " Forests for Prosperity" from Nov. 5 to 8.
Forests cover about 740 million hectares in Asia and the Pacific, or 26 percent of the total land surface, but on a per capita basis, it is the least-forested region of the world, with only 0.2 hectares of forest per person.
While the net area of forests in the region actually expanded at a rate of 1.4 million hectares a year during the last decade, the rise was due to major investments in reforestation and afforestation in a relatively small number of countries, while forests continued to be cleared and damaged in many other countries.