The White House yesterday launched implementation of the President's Forests for the Future initiative. The initiative will be directed by an interagency task force co-chaired by William K. Reilly, Administrator of the EPA and former president of World Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Foundation, and C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President.
The Forests for the Future initiative, announced by the President on June 1 and advanced at the Rio Earth summit, is designed to stimulate effective actions for forest conservation and sustainable use. It follows from the President's call at the Houston economic summit in July 1990 for a global agreement to conserve forests, which led to the Statement of Forest Principles agreed to in Rio. It encourages the cooperative, joint actions which may help to achieve a global forest agreement, and it builds on the administration's actions to conserve U.S. forests, such as the America the Beautiful initiative and the new ecosystem approach adopted in June by the major Federal forest management Agencies.
Under the initiative, countries would form cooperative, action-oriented forest partnerships to conserve and sustainably use forests. Partnerships would be based on proposals made by interested countries using effective and efficient approaches. To support such partnerships, the President is urging countries to double international forest assistance to a new international total of $2.7 billion per year. The President has committed an additional $150 million next year above already planned U.S. forest assistance and is working with other countries to gain their participation.
At its meeting yesterday, the task force emphasized the need to make progress as soon as possible by pursuing early forest partnerships with interested countries and by convening a partnership forum to share ideas on forest conservation and sustainable use. Forest partnerships will be the key to achieving meaningful conservation results and motivating additional participation in the initiative.
In addition to cochairs Reilly and Gray, the task force includes senior officials from the State Department, the Agency for International Development, the USDA Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Smithsonian Institution, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Policy Development, and the National Security Council.