The 15th Senior ASEAN Officials Meeting on Forestry got underway in Hanoi on June 28, to promote managing forests in a sustainable manner.

When addressing the event, Vietnam ’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that the forestry sector has made significant contributions to reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth, especially in rural and mountainous areas.

However, he added that the ASEAN bloc faces a number of challenges such as using forests to satisfy growing economic demands for hydro power, transport and food production.

The trafficking of timber and wildlife also remains rampant and the role and benefits to local communities are yet to receive due consideration.

In order to tackle these issues, Phat said that ASEAN countries need to work closer to work out solutions which are suitable to each country.

During their two day meeting, the officials will discuss how to implement the Plan of Action for ASEAN’s Forestry Cooperation Strategy from 2011-2015; the prevention of forest fires; ASEAN’s approach to emerging issues regarding forestry and ASEAN and the Republic of Korea working together on joint forestry initiatives.-VNA