As we start 2011 and the International Year of the forest, it is worth taking a look at the present situation within some areas of the world.
In Cancun last year, tackling the issue of our forests was supposed to be a major strategy toward combating the effects of global warming. Environmental Ambassadors such as Prince Charles along with others suggested funds that would allow richer countries to pay poor nations not to deplete their natural forests.
A new financial model would have resulted in countries and companies paying to offset their carbon by planting a tree. This is now under threat as it is feared that richer nations will offset their carbon by planting a tree, but continue to pollute. The scheme is at a standstill and fears of massive delays are being verbalised around the world.
All is not lost; the United Nations are near to the formal REDD+ that is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. This model will help define how to measure deforestation over time and what social and environmental safeguards need to be in place.
This is all very good to hear, however whilst Cancun talks deplete and the UN still try and get the REDD+ programme underway, what will happen in Peru? The construction of five hydroelectric dams in Peru as part of an energy deal with Brazil result in the destruction of nearly 1.5 million hectares of jungle of the next 20 years.
Indonesia on the other hand are taking steps to protect their vastly depleting forests, with Indonesia and Norway backing a $1 billion pledge to the project. Although many are sceptical about this, Indonesia is set to start a two year suspension of activity on new land cleaning permits starting February 2011.
The nation has taken its first steps to save its dwindling forests according to officials. Indonesia along with Papa New Guinea and Brazil are amongst the world’s top sources of greenhouse gases because of the widespread clearing of peat and forest land. During Cancun week Greenpeace unveiled maps of Indonesia, demonstrating the forests that could be destroyed if tighter controls were not implemented. These maps further supported the need for Indonesia to take a firmer control of their forest strategies.
The United Nations points out that 36.5 million acres of forests were lost around the world during 1990’s due to deforestation alone. Deforestation causes major damage to the air as the exchange of carbon between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere accounts for 80% of the forest ecosystems and deforestation eliminates this needed exchange.
Let us hope that 2011 is not just the international year of the forest in terms of planting the obligatory tree here and there. Let us hope that 2011 the year the world woke up and smelt the destruction of freshly chopped wood all over the planet.