Leaders at Brazzaville summit must make brave choices to save world’s forests
The Amazon, Borneo-Mekong and Congo forest blocks account for one third of the planet’s forests. These vast expanses of forest play a crucial role in regulating global climate, unpinning local livelihood strategies and protecting the diversity of life on the planet.
Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and more than 300 million people worldwide. In 2005, the total global trade in forest products was valued at around US$ 379 billion.
But every year, the three regions lose millions of hectares of tropical forest, even though the true value of the “standing” forests is far greater than the economic benefit of the alternative land use.
The summit meeting in Brazzaville brings together representatives from 30 countries of the three regions in an effort to help develop long-term solutions for the sustainable management of these precious forests.
WWF hopes this summit will influence a positive outcome of the upcoming climate talks in Durban later this year and lead to further big conservation wins and stronger commitments to protect the environment.
“Representing their countries and their peoples, leaders at the Brazzaville summit carry a heavy responsibility on their shoulders,” said Natasha Kofoworola Quist, WWF CARPO Regional Representative.
“They must work closely together so that they and the world can continue to benefit from these unique rainforests.”
The implementation of policies promoting sustainable management, restoration of tropical forest and zero net deforestation is among WWF asks at the summit.
The global conservation organisation also promotes the establishment of transparent financial mechanisms for the management of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) revenues by 2015.
Regional cooperation can help protect rainforests by expanding protected areas, exchanging critical information and experience, harmonising social and economic policy, and coordinating on conservation measures.
According to WWF tackling deforestation will require a new climate change deal to provide the right incentives to reduce deforestation and land degradation.
When forests are destroyed, for example, by logging or conversion for agricultural use, they release large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Indeed, deforestation is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally.
“With major conferences such as next year’s Earth Summit and the climate summit in Durban coming up, they should also see the Brazzaville meeting as an opportunity to set the global standard for cooperation on critical conservation issues,” Quist said.
“WWF wishes that the outcomes of this Summit be taken further and would ask the participating countries to make strong time bound commitments to inspire and galvanize international support.”