Monday September 23, 2019

World’s Forests ‘in Emergency Room’, Researchers Warns Planet’s Health at Stake

It was the fourth highest annual decline since records began in 2001, according to new data from Global Forest Watch, which uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to monitor tree cover losses from Brazil to Ghana

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FILE - Downed trees are seen from the air on Tyndall Air Force Base in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael near Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 12, 2018. VOA

The world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover last year, the equivalent of 30 soccer pitches a minute, researchers said Thursday, warning the planet’s health was at stake.

It was the fourth highest annual decline since records began in 2001, according to new data from Global Forest Watch, which uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to monitor tree cover losses from Brazil to Ghana.

“The world’s forests are now in the emergency room,” said Frances Seymour, senior fellow at the U.S.-based World Resources Institute (WRI), which led the research. “It’s death by a thousand cuts — the health of the planet is at stake and Band-Aid responses are not enough.”

Seymour said the data represented “heartbreaking losses in real places,” with indigenous communities most vulnerable to losing their homes and livelihoods through deforestation.

world forests, emergency
“The world’s forests are now in the emergency room,” said Frances Seymour, senior fellow at the U.S.-based World Resources Institute (WRI), which led the research. Pixabay

Climate implications

The loss of huge swathes of forest around the world also has major implications for climate change as they absorb a third of the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions produced globally.

“Forests are our greatest defense against climate change and biodiversity loss, but deforestation is getting worse,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK. “Bold action is needed to tackle this global crisis including restoring lost forests. But unless we stop them being destroyed in the first place, we’re just chasing our tail.”

The study found much of the loss occurred in primary rainforest — mature trees that absorb more carbon and are harder to replace. The rate of destruction in 2018 was lower than in the two previous years. It peaked in 2016 when about 17 million hectares of tropical forest were lost partly because of rampant forest fires, according to the WRI.

The study highlighted new deforestation hotspots, particularly in Africa, where illegal mining, small-scale forest clearing and the expansion of cocoa farms led to an increase in tree loss in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

world forests, emergency
The loss of huge swathes of forest around the world also has major implications for climate change as they absorb a third of the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions produced globally. Pixabay

Bright spot: Indonesia

Indonesia was a rare bright spot, with primary forest loss slowing for two years running, after the government imposed a moratorium on forest-clearing.

Indonesia has the world’s third largest total area of tropical forest and is also the biggest producer of palm oil. Environmentalists blame much of the forest destruction on land clearance for oil-palm plantations. We hope that this is a sign that our policies so far are having an effect,” said Belinda Margono, a director at the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

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Last year, leading philanthropists pledged a $459 million commitment to rescue shrinking tropical forests that suck heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a Global Climate Action Summit in California. But experts said more needed to be done.

“Deforestation causes more climate pollution than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined,” said Glenn Hurowitz, chief executive of Mighty Earth, a global environmental campaign organization. “It’s vital that we protect the forests that we still have.” (VOA)

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The UN Headquarters To Be Powered With Green Electricity From Gandhi Solar Park Gifted by India

The UN headquarters will be powered with green electricity when the Gandhi Solar Park gifted by India comes online on September 24

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The installation costing about $1 million will generate 50 kilowatts of electricity from the 193 solar panels. Pixabay

The UN headquarters will be powered with green electricity when the Gandhi Solar Park gifted by India comes online on September 24 symbolising New Delhi’s commitment to fighting climate change.

The installation costing about $1 million will generate 50 kilowatts of electricity from the 193 solar panels, each representing a UN member nation.

India is also donating a Gandhi Peace Garden made up of 150 trees, which will be located at a university campus in Old Westbury as another environmental gift.

The two gifts that come in the year of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth showcase two elements in the fight against climate change: Generating green energy from renewable resources through the solar park and using the trees to sequester (or capture back from the environment) carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

UN, India, Solar Park, Climate, Global Warming
The UN will also be releasing a special stamp on Tuesday to commemorate Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Wikimedia Commons

The gifts mesh in with the focus of the high-level meetings of the UN General Assembly this year — fighting climate change, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called a “battle for our lives”.

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The UN will also be releasing a special stamp on Tuesday to commemorate Gandhi’s birth anniversary. (IANS)