Biggest Conservation Agreement Ever — 2X the Size of Germany

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 18, 2010 (IPS)

The decades-long war in Canada’s northwoods appears to be over. Environmental groups and Canadian logging companies linked arms Tuesday morning and agreed to work together to sustainably manage and protect 720,000 square kilometres of Canada’s boreal forest – an area twice the size of Germany.

“This is the biggest conservation agreement on the entire planet,” said Richard Brooks, spokesperson for participating environmental organisations and forest campaign coordinator of Greenpeace Canada.

The vast northern boreal forest is a broad band that circles the top of the world below the Arctic. It is the last great forest ecosystem – larger even than the Amazon – and the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon. Made up primarily of pine and spruce trees, Canada’s boreal covers more than five million square kilometers, representing more than a quarter of the remaining intact forest on the planet. Just eight to 10 percent is currently protected.

“This is our best and last chance to save woodland caribou, permanently protect vast areas of the boreal forest and put in place sustainable forestry practices,” Brooks said in a press conference.

“We estimate there is roughly 20 billion tonnes of carbon in the trees and soils that are part of this agreement.”

That is equivalent to the annual emissions from 18 billion cars, he estimated. Continue reading

The REAL Amazon-gate: On the Brink of Collapse Reveals Million $ Study

By Stephen Leahy

PARIS, Feb 2, 2010 (Tierramérica)

The Amazon jungle “is very close to a tipping point,” and if destruction continues, it could shrink to one third of its original size in just 65 years, warns Thomas Lovejoy, world-renowned tropical biologist.

[UPDATE Sept 6’10: The Amazon River is at its lowest level in 40 years — in 2005 devastating dry spell damaged vast swaths of South American rainforest Amazon May Be Headed For Another Bad Drought]]

Climate change, deforestation and fire are the drivers of this potential Amazonian apocalypse, according to Lovejoy, biodiversity chair at the Washington DC-based Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment, and chief biodiversity adviser to the president of the World Bank.

Amazonian rainforest, upper Amazon basin, Lore...
Image via Wikipedia

Lovejoy laid out the scenario for participants at the Biodiversity Science Policy Conference in Paris last week, sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), and marking the beginning of the U.N.’s International Year of Biodiversity.

“The World Bank released a study that finally put the impacts of climate change, deforestation and fires together. The tipping point for the Amazon is 20 percent deforestation,” and that is “a scary result,” Lovejoy told Tierramérica in an interview.

The study, “Assessment of the Risk of Amazon Dieback,” released Jan. 22, drew on the expertise of several international research institutions, including Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute, Britain’s Exeter University, Brazil’s Centre for Weather Forecasting and Climate Change (CPET/INPE), Germany’s Potsdam Institute and Earth3000.

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The results and analysis were reviewed by an international blue-ribbon panel of scientists. Continue reading

CARBON FORESTS: Can the Free Market Slow Deforestation?

Sumatra burning forest courtesy of Kim Worm Sorensen sml

By Stephen Leahy

IPS 28/10/2006

Tropical forests’ ability to store carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change makes them more valuable than alternative uses like pasture or lumber, and rich countries ought to pay tropical countries to preserve their forests, the World Bank says.

However, some environmentalists caution that while reducing deforestation is vital, a so-called carbon trading system is the wrong approach and too complicated to implement.

The world’s tropical forests have been shrinking at a rate of five percent per decade since the 1950s. In the past five years, more than 50 million hectares of tropical forest have been lost — an area nearly the size of France. Aside from the loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems and other negative impacts, deforestation is a major source of human-made emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In fact, deforestation contributes almost twice as much GHGs as does all road transport around the world.

“The trees are worth more alive, storing carbon, than they would be worth if burned and transformed to unproductive fields,” said Kenneth Chomitz, lead author of the World Bank report released Monday. Continue reading