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Protect world’s forests or face apocalypse now

by David Masters
July 17, 2008

If the earth is to have a future, more needs to be done to protect the world’s forests.

This is the conclusion of a report by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

The report warns that the world is ‘on the verge of a global land grab’ leading to the destruction of the world’s forests and exacerbating global warming.

Demand for biofuel crops and food is rapidly increasing, meaning that forest land in the Amazon and Southeast Asia is disappearing fast to make way for crop land.

This rush for land is going to continue rising, and by 2030 extra land 12 times the size of Germany will be needed to grow enough food and biofuel to meet demand.

The RRI, a coalition of NGOs from around the world who focus on forest protection and management, says that ‘big steps’ need to be taken to prevent further deforestation.

Deforestation is responsible for around one fifth of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that will only increase as forest land decreases.

A second report by the RRI warns that if Western governments rush to tackle global warming by buying up forest land, billions of pounds could end up falling into the hands of corrupt politicians, criminals, and polluting industries, exacerbating local conflicts and leaving many forest peoples homeless.

If buying forests is the solution, then more needs to be done to ensure clearer guidelines on who can use the land after it has been bought, to be put together in consultation with local people.

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