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Deforestation, Environmental and World Banks

  • Paul Sisco

There is no letup in the destruction of the world's forests. They are being destroyed by five percent a decade, endangering plant and animal species, making people poorer, and wreaking havoc on the global environment.

At the World Bank in Washington this week, a team of researchers released a detailed policy report on ways to deal with the problem. Research team leader Ken Chomitz:

"It's about forest poverty. It's about the 800 million people who live in these forests and wetlands and depend on them to a large extent, for their livelihood and welfare, and it's about tropical deforestation which proceeds unabated; an area the size of Portugal lost every year."

Deforestation presents a host of problems. Chief among them, forest destruction contributes 20 percent of each year's global carbon dioxide emissions, …. twice that of the world's cars and trucks. Simply put, trees and plants store carbon, which otherwise is emitted as the "greenhouse gas" carbon dioxide -- spurring global warming, and seriously threatening biodiversity.

The report discusses the need for strong global carbon exchange markets as a important partial solution, ... one where wealthier nations finance the offsetting of carbon emissions by supporting the natural forests that store them.

"The problem is it takes collective action, it takes collective action, on the global level to sort out how we are going to do this in a way that is fair and safe and equitable. That's a big challenge but with gains that large perhaps we can set our minds to, to do it."

The researchers believe pressure on the world's forests can and will ease when strong financial incentives on the national and international level are put in place.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could get the farmer and the industrialist or utility owner sitting at the same table, figuring out how they can make themselves both better off."

It's hoped these recommendations will bring that day closer. In the meantime, deforestation continues -- threatening endangered species, and populations rich and poor.

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