I. Global Trends in Forests and Direction of Forest Management in Japan
1.Deforestation and Degradation of Forests and their Influence
The area of the world's forests decreased by 94 million ha which is equivalent to 2.5 times Japan's land area, in the 10 years up to 2000. Decrease of tropical rainforests in Africa and South America accounts for 96%. In addition, forests have been deteriorating from closed forests to open ones due to forest fires, etc.
In developing countries, deforestation and degradation of forests have been caused by the compound effect of the excessive collection of fuelwood, over-harvesting for agricultural development, inappropriate commercial harvesting and illegal logging, with underlying causes including poverty, population increase and food shortage.
Wood consumption per capita increases according to the degree of economic development. Therefore, the world's wood consumption is on the increase in the long term as the world population increases.
In particular, wood consumption has been increasing remarkably in developing countries. As a result, the share of developing countries in wood consumption and import volume increased from 51% in 1965 to 60% in 2000 and from 9% to 21% in the same period, respectively.
The deforestation and degradation of forests may further aggravate the United Nations' forecast that two-thirds of the world's population will be facing a water shortage crisis by 2025.
In the WTO negotiations on market access for non-agricultural products, Japan submitted a proposal requesting that special considerations be given to forest products in examining the market access, from the viewpoint of the contribution to solving global environmental issues and the sustainable use of exhaustible  natural resources.
2. Promotion of "Sustainable Forest Management" around the World
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002, the "Plan of Implementation" was adopted to promote sustainable development. The importance of promoting "sustainable forest management" was reaffirmed in the plan.
As one of the achievements in the forest area in the Summit, the "Asia Forest Partnership" was launched with the aims to promote sustainable forest management in Asia through such measures as to combat illegal logging.