From: Associated Press
Published March 17, 2005 12:00 AM

G-8 Environment Ministers Discuss Illegal Logging

LONDON — The impact of extreme weather on African communities and the environmental threat of illegal logging were expected to top the agenda Thursday at the start of a two-day meeting of environment ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

The issues addressed the two main themes of Britain's current presidency of the G-8 _ helping Africa and improving the environment.

Protests by activists were expected, and police were deploying 1,000 officers in a "ring of steel" around the meeting site near Derby, in central England. A planned march through Derby was banned, but up to 3,000 demonstrators were given permission to gather in the town's center.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn were hosting the meeting at Breadsall Priory, and double fences were placed around the rural conference center.

The ministers are from Russia and the Group of Seven _ Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, which together account for two-thirds of the world's economic output.

The meeting was expected to discuss how rich, industrialized nations can reduce their consumption of illegally logged timber, and improve monitoring procedures. One possible goal would be to ensure that supplies come from properly certified sources by encouraging public authorities to use only legal timber for building works.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has put climate change at the top of the agenda for the annual G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July.

As the links between droughts, floods and storms, and their impact on poor communities, particularly in Africa, are better understood, it is hoped that aid projects will be better targeted in future.

Source: Associated Press

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