HANOI, April 27, 2008 (AFP) – Asia’s rainforests are being rapidly destroyed, a trend accelerated by surging timber demand in booming China and India, and record food, energy and commodity prices, forest experts warn. The loss of these biodiversity hot spots, much of it driven by the illegal timber trade and the growth of oil palm, biofuel and rubber plantations, is worsening global warming, species loss and poverty, they said.
Globally, tropical forest destruction “is a super crisis we are facing, it’s an appalling crisis,” said Oxford University’s Professor Norman Myers, keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week conference in Hanoi.
“It’s one of the worst crises since we came out of our caves 10,000 years ago,” Myers said at the five-day meeting of 500 foresters, researchers, state officials and activists held last week in the Vietnamese capital.
Over-logging in Southeast Asia caused 19 percent of global rainforest loss in 2005, Myers said, compared to cattle ranching — once a leading cause, mainly in South America — which now caused five percent of world losses.
The rapid growth of palm oil and other plantations accounted for 22 percent, and slash-and-burn farming, unsustainable as more