Massive deforestation leading
to climate change, species loss
By Joydeep Gupta
(Poland), Dec 8 (IANS) Deforestation is leading to close to
20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn
are leading to climate change and possible extinction of 20-30
percent of all species on earth.
at the Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) in this western Poland city are struggling
to find money for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation (REDD) in a post-2012 climate deal.
they do manage to find a significant sum of money, the Carbon
and Biodiversity Demonstration Atlas produced by the World
Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) of the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP) will come in very handy indeed.
a time of scarce financial resources and economic concerns,
every dollar, euro or rupee needs to deliver double, even
triple dividends," said UN Under-Secretary General and
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
investment in forests is a key example where climate benefits
and ecosystem benefits can be achieved in one transaction,"
he said at the release of the atlas here.
with support from the German government and the Humane Society
International, the atlas maps those places that contain major
species concentrations and where efforts to stop deforestation
will produce maximum benefit.
spokesman Nick Nuttall explained: "The research gives
preliminary indications of where investments in reducing emissions
from deforestation can not only assist in combating climate
change, but can also help the conservation of biodiversity,
from amphibians and birds to primates. The atlas is believed
to be the first of its kind."
Western Ghats are among the hotspots identified in the atlas.
to a successful REDD initiative is ensuring safeguards for
local and indigenous people so that they can benefit from
any future REDD arrangements.
pinpointing where high densities of carbon overlap with high
levels of biodiversity, the atlas spotlights where governments
and investors can deal with two crises for the price of one.
This does not include the other benefits from investing in
forests ecosystem infrastructure, from stabilizing soils to
conserving and boosting local and regional water supplies,"
atlas includes regional as well as national maps for six tropical
countries showing where areas of high carbon storage coincide
with areas of biodiversity importance. It also shows where
existing protected areas are high in both carbon and biodiversity.
earth's terrestrial ecosystems store an estimated 2,000 billion
tonnes (Gigatonnes) of carbon (GtC) in the biomass above ground
and in the soil, with a significant proportion of this in
tropical Andes, for example, is the richest and most diverse
biodiversity hotspot in the world while the Amazon rainforest,
the world's largest continuous rainforest area, hosts an estimated
quarter of the world's terrestrial species. High biodiversity
areas within the tropical Andes and Amazon account for 11
percent of the total carbon stock in the area the experts
call the neotropics.
tropical Africa over 60 percent of the high biodiversity areas
are in high carbon areas and contain a total of 18 billion
tonnes of carbon. Employing the techniques used in then atlas
would make it possible to identify where areas of high carbon
density and high density of great apes overlap, in order to
find where REDD investment could also benefit great ape conservation.
national maps in the atlas illustrate different ways of identifying
areas of biodiversity importance and their overlaps with high
carbon areas. In Tanzania, key biodiversity areas contain
17 percent of the country's carbon stock.
protected areas cover 32 percent of the land area that has
been identified as having high values for both carbon and
biodiversity, demonstrating the potential value of the protected
area system for meeting both carbon and biodiversity goals.
Papua New Guinea the map illustrates how the centre of the
country, which is high in biodiversity, also contains areas
of large areas of high carbon stock. It also shows that existing
protected areas overlap with only 14 percent of the high carbon
has spent millions of years perfecting carbon capture and
storage in forests, peatlands, soils and the oceans while
evolving the biodiversity that is central to healthy and economically
productive ecosystems," said Steiner.
methods for capturing and storing (carbon) will have their
role, but the biggest and widest returns may come from investing
in and enhancing natural carbon capture and storage systems.
doing so, countries will forge part of a global green New
Deal in which the infrastructure of economically-important
ecosystems is renewed and renovated while sustaining livelihoods
and hundreds of thousands of new green jobs in forestry and
conservation in developing countries."
Dickson, head of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Programme
at WCMC, said that the new maps are just a first step towards
demonstrating how combining different types of data, with
relatively simply techniques, can help to identify areas where
opportunities and benefits overlap for storing carbon and
team has used global datasets and biodiversity priorities
for this demonstration atlas. These could be improved by using
national level data and priorities: "Decisions to reduce
emissions at the national level need to be made against national
priorities and with the best national data on carbon stocks
and biodiversity," Dickson said.
decisions will also need to account for specific pressures
that can lead to environmentally destructive changes in land
use, such as clearing forests for pasture or growing crops
for biofuels, he added.
the atlas, experts are looking at how investments in conserving
carbon in the forests on the Nigeria-Cameroon border may also
assist in conserving the habitat of the highly endangered
Cross River gorilla, of which only 250-300 individuals remain.
in Indonesia, national and local authorities, communities
and the oil palm sector will be engaged to reduce emissions
from the carbon-rich peat-swamp forest, home of many populations
Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)