We need incentives to curb deforestation and climate change

The disappearance of forests annually generates two billion tons of carbon

9 December 2005, Rome - Noting that deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas caused by human activities, FAO today offered to provide data and technical advice to countries participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal to explore ways to create financial incentives to reduce forest loss in the developing world.

“The latest FAO data on the role of forests in climate change mitigation in our recent World Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2005) clearly illustrates the contribution of forests to the fight against global warming - and worsening the problem through deforestation, ”said Dieter Schoene, FAO Forestry Department.

“There are a number of strategies countries can use to closely monitor reductions in deforestation and increased carbon storage, particularly in tropical countries where forests are critical to removing carbon dioxide from the land. 'atmosphere,' he added. This accounting would be crucial for any program to create financial incentives for carbon storage in developing countries.

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Two billion tonnes of carbon every year due to deforestation

According to the FRA 2005 report, the world's forests are a 283 tank gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon would do in their biomass, while the total carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is roughly 50 percent to the amount present in the atmosphere, or a trillion tons.

But the assessment also shows that the destruction of forests adds almost 2 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere each year.

“It is important to prevent this stored carbon from escaping in order to maintain the carbon balance. It is vital for the protection of the environment ”, according to Mr. Schoene.

For the whole of the planet, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased at least 1,1 Gt annually during the period 2000-2005, because of deforestation and forest degradation, the assessment found. Carbon in forest biomass decreased in Africa, Asia and South America during the 1990-2005 period, but increased in all other regions.

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These losses were partly offset by forest expansion (including planting) and an increase in growing stock per hectare in some areas.

source FAO

Better use of forests in the fight against climate change

It would not only prevent the conversion of forests to other land uses, but also create new carbon stocks by forest expansion (new plantings) and reforestation (replanting of deforested areas), FAO said.

Carbon stocks in forest biomass are the highest per hectare in West and Central Africa, and Central and South America, according to the FRA 2005.

Particularly in the tropics, where vegetation growth is very rapid - which accelerates the uptake of carbon from the atmosphere - tree planting can absorb large amounts of CO2 in a relatively short period of time. In these regions, forests, thanks to their biomass and wood, can fix up to 15 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year.

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FAO and other experts have estimated that global carbon retention resulting from reduced deforestation, increased regrowth of forests and an increase of agroforestry and plantations could make about 15 percent carbon emissions from fossil fuels over the next 50 years.

Source and for more information: United Nations Food and Agriculture

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