The most recent report produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations states that deforestation of the world's primary forests has reached unsustainable levels. Addressing this problem at the international level is a major challenge as a significant proportion of primary forests are located in developing countries which undertake deforestation not only to produce products for export but also to clear land for agricultural purposes, cattle ranching and urban development. The outcome of the many international forest focused conferences which have taken place over the past few decades, has been an inability to come up with a workable solution to the problem. In light of these outcomes, this article argues that the sustainable management of primary forests is now crucial and best administered at state level. This will require support from rich countries in the form of finance, know-how and technology. An international forest treaty that promotes sustainable forestry and supports the establishment of protected forests areas can only succeed if a bottom up approach is undertaken because taking into account specific local conditions is essential.