Environmental Protection

Reducing Deforestation a Success

Reducing Deforestation a Success

According to a new report, nearly 20 countries around the world have reduced tropical deforestation and emissions as a result of programs and policies.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) has released a deforestation report that highlights successes in reducing deforestation and restoring forests without disturbing the economic development in 17 countries throughout Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia.

The yearly average of forest cleared in the 1990’s was 16 million hectares (about the size of the state of Georgia); average percent of climate emissions was 17 percent. Since then, and due to new policies and programs, deforestation is down to 13 million hectares and accounts for only 10 percent of climate emissions.

“Successfully reducing deforestation is essential as forests are home to a wide range of plants and animals, and vital to the livelihoods of indigenous communities. When forests are cleared—for palm oil plantations, agriculture or livestock—we lose vital resources, put animals at risk of extinction, and release massive quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the trees and soils,” said report author Doug Boucher, director of UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative. “What’s surprising about today’s report is the number of countries that are effectively protecting their tropical forests and the wide variety of policies and programs that are working. There’s no one right way to stop deforestation, but rather a smorgasbord of options.”

Some of the success stories outlined in the report include: the Amazon forest in Brazil, 80 percent of the forest still stands due to these efforts; deforestation projects in Mexico received voluntary funds for forest management and has also achieved other benefits such as clean water and carbon mitigation; and Central Africa has experienced economic growth while also adopting forest management plans.

“Ultimately, the report shows that every euro, dollar, peso, rupee, dong, and African franc invested in these programs and policies is money well spent,” said Boucher. “The rewards far outweigh the costs.”

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