Let the Trees Stand Tall

24th September 2010

The Economist have recently spoke of a special report on forests and the effects of deforestation.
The Amazon rainforest is cut and burned when the summer dry season as end, it is now drawing to an end now, but this year the smoke that comes with the burning of the trees that can often be seen from space won’t be seen. (The Economist). Brazil has seen the rate of deforestation drop, 2004 2.8m hectares of the Amazon were razed compared to last years figure of 750,000 hectares, this is a a massive improvement. Brazil are not the only country letting their trees stand. Richer places such as North America and Europe have seen 8m hectares of forest a year being allowed to re-grow or were planted anew, this was apparently able to happen because of falling rural populations taking the pressure off forestland. Its is not just the rich countries that are doing their bit, China have launched what has been dubbed ‘The Great Green Wall’ which they hope will offset unsustainable logging and stop the rapidly encroaching deserts. By 2050 they hope to have planted an artifical forest streching 400million hectare, covering more than 42% of China’s landmass. China already have the largest artifical forest in the world covering more than 500,000sq km. There was a resolution passed to make it the duty of every citizen above the age 11 to plant at least three saplings every year.

Roughly half the dry weight of a tree is made up of stored carbon, most of this is released when the tree rots or is burned. This is why destroying forests is a bad idea. The contribution to emissions made by deforestation is around 15%-17% which is more than the world’s ships, cars, trains and planes. Evidence is growing to suggest that primary growth is seizing the opportunity of their carbon-heavy atmosphere to soak up more carbon than they previously did. There are so many reasons why the forests need to be protected it has been found that they make rain, we will lose millions of species.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is the main international effort to speed up protecting our forests. REDD pay people in developing countries to leave trees standing, half a dozen rich countries including Britain and America have promised $4.5billion towards the idea. The REDD scheme will only be effective in countries where the government works and do not operate corruptly, however with sufficient attention to monitoring, verification and making sure that the money goes to the right people. Without efforts to solve this problem, climate change will be vastly increased and more tragically we will lose one of the planets most valuable and beautiful assets.

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