Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The gloomy state of rain forests

Edward Harris, Associated Press writer, brings us a gloomy reminder of the state of rain forests around the world, which continues to get worse.

Here are few interesting facts and statistics he brings on the article ('Rain forests fall at 'alarming' rate' from
Yahoo! News):

1. U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed. This is a deforestation rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) a year.

2. Forest destruction accounts for about 20 percent of manmade emissions, second only to burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heat. Conversely, healthy forests absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon.

3. According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), although South America loses slightly more acreage than Africa, the rate of loss is higher in Africa — almost 1% of African forests gone each year. In 2000-2005, the continent lost 10 million acres a year, including big chunks of forest in Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania, up from 9 million a decade earlier.

4. The Amazon and other South American forests are usually burned for cattle grazing or industrial-scale soybean farming. In Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asia, island forests are being cut or burned to make way for giant palm plantations (palm oil is used for food processing, biodiesel, etc.). In Africa, it's individuals hacking out plots for small-scale farming.

You can find many more details in this interesting article. And here's a quote from it that I think summarize the whole situation:

"If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change," declared more than 300 scientists, conservation groups, religious leaders and others in an appeal for action at December's climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!