Australia gives $6m to fight Asia-Pacific deforestation

ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt has promised $6 million to help fight illegal logging and deforestation, which is a major environmental issue in Indonesia and other island nations across the Asia-Pacific.

Mr Hunt announced the funding after speaking at a summit on rainforests in the Asia-Pacific on Tuesday.

The summit brought together environmentalists, policymakers and forestry industry leaders to talk conservation, in an effort to cut down illegal logging and the impacts of poor land management on the region.

Mr Hunt said the ultimate aim was to create a new "framework" to help address the drivers of deforestation, including illegal logging and monoculture plantations like palm oil.

He said apart from the environmental impacts, illegal logging undermined the legal industry, effectively cutting government revenue from taxes and affecting local, legal forestry operators.

"This is a significant cost to national governments, local communities and the private sector and our natural ecosystems," he said.

While estimating the economic impacts of an illegal industry was difficult, Mr Hunt said recent figures from 2010 showed illegal logging may account for up to 30-40% of all wood-based exports in the region.

The funding will go to help build a stronger legal forestry industry and help land owners, businesses and government develop new certification standards to combat illegal logging operations.