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Biodiversity Conservation and the Forests of East Timor

Adalfredo do Rosario Ferreira, ETTA Forestry Unit, East Timor Forestry Group




According to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992, there are currently two major environmental issues: global warming and biodiversity. In East Timor reconstruction requires the use of natural resources but unsustainable use and exploitation will mean the irretrievable loss of biodiversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels. To prevent this, natural resource use must be ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.


During the period of Indonesian occupation and administration the government established a biodiversity conservation policy for Indonesia that included East Timor, however, it was never implemented. Currently in East Timor the use of natural resources is vital for the livelihood of the population.



1.      Under previous administrations there was no institutional system or agency involved with or responsible for biodiversity management.

2.      Excessive exploitation of natural resources in the past.

3.      There is as yet no assessment, identification or classification of natural resources within East Timor.

4.      Funding and other resources are required to facilitate assessment etc.

5.      The community is reliant on the use of natural resources and must be involved, consulted and educated on sustainable resource use.



1.      Undertake inventory of natural resources including assessment, identification and classification.

2.      Development of regulations and law enforcement.

3.      Government to develop policies regarding conservation, development and sustainable use of natural resources.

4.      Community involvement, participation and education bottom-up approach.

5.      Maintain relationships with international and local agencies (NGOs, Governments, non-government agencies, civil society etc).