Global Crisis as Rainforest Loss Soars

New Thinking Needed on Rainforest Conservation
Amazon rainforest loss increased some six percent in 2004 to near record levels – as ranchers, soybean farmers and loggers burned and cut down a near-record area of 10,088 square miles of ancient rainforest ecosystems. Rainforest deforestation and diminishment is spiraling out of control wherever the World's last ecologically and evolutionarily rich rainforests are found – and particularly in the world's last large rainforest wildernesses found in Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea.

New thinking is desperately needed on rainforest conservation. I concur with the assessment by the Rainforest Foundation (below) that “international discussions about forest destruction have achieved virtually nothing in the last 13 years.” It is becoming abundantly clear that the forces of destruction marshaled against rainforests – loggers, agriculturalists, oil and mining – will not be defeated through status quo policy responses. The World Bank funds soya production, and along with WWF sponsors efforts to reform commercial logging. These approaches have failed and made rainforest loss worse – largely because they have not understood that empowering indigenous peoples is the best way to meaningfully ensure rainforests are sustained.
The only way that large and contiguous rainforests will continue driving Planetary ecological functions into the next century is to pay their inhabitants to protect their habitats while maintaining their rights to low impact traditional uses. has long advocated such an approach, and now no other than the Papua New Guinea delegation to the current climate talks has suggested that developing nations should be paid to preserve tropical rainforests, in order to both slow deforestation and global warming.
Rainforest protection payments would offset foregone opportunity costs of NOT industrially harvesting their rainforest assets. At least 20% of carbon released into the atmosphere is as a result of land clearance – much of it ancient rainforests liquidated for a pittance of their true value, and at great cost to global ecological sustainability. Rapidly escalating carbon trading must urgently implement measures to include protection of intact rainforests – and the foregone release of relatively stable carbon stores – as being eligible for carbon offset payments. This can not wait – as the rainforests and global climate, as well as the well-being of rainforest dwellers and all the world's peoples – are at stake.
Title: New figures show devastation of the Amazon rainforest, as United Nations meet to
discuss global deforestation
Source: Rainforest Foundation Press Release
Date: May 19, 2005
For immediate release
The rampant destruction of the Amazon rainforests revealed today by the Brazilian government is an alarming wake-up call for the governments meeting this week in New York for the UN Forum on Forests [1]. Record levels of Brazilian deforestation — 26,000 square kilometres of forest in the 12 months prior to August 2004 — is the strongest indicator yet that international discussions about forest destruction have achieved virtually nothing in the last 13 years, according to the Rainforest Foundation UK [2].
“Some of the agencies that have been entrusted by the international community to safeguard the rainforests have instead been contributing to their destruction,” said Rainforest Foundation UK director Simon Counsell. He cited the World Bank's role in promoting and funding the expansion of the soya industry in Brazil as a factor in deforestation there.
Rainforest Foundation trustee, Prof. Sir Ghillean Prance [3] dismissed claims that logging, mining and farming in rainforests contributes to improved economic development. “Actually they are evicting the poor from their habitat, so it is having the opposite effect,” he said. “It's not just having a local impact, deforestation effects the entire planet. The world should help Brazil to defend its rainforests.”
The devastating statistics illustrate the importance of indigenous peoples in protecting their environment. Satellite images show that the areas of forest that are best surviving the wave of destruction in Amazonia are those that have been legally designated as Indian territories. “Protecting the rights of indigenous people has been proven to be the best way of protecting rainforests in Brazil” said Simon Counsell.
Simon Counsell, Rainforest Foundation
Mobile: (0)7941 899 579
Rosemary Brown, Rainforest Foundation
Phone: 020 7251 6345
[1] The United Nations Forum on Forests is the main international discussion body set up by governments to tackle global deforestation. It is the latest in a series of UN initiatives which started in 1992. The Forum is holding its 5th meeting from May 17th-29th at the UN headquarters in New York.
[2] The Rainforest Foundation UK supports indigenous people and traditional populations of the world rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfil their rights. This is done both by providing financial and technical assistance to projects that assist forest people directly, and by campaigning in the UK. To date, the Foundation has assisted thousands of indigenous people to gain acknowledgement of their rights and an improved quality of life. The Rainforest Foundation was set up by the musician Sting, and Trudie Styler in 1989.
[2] Sir Ghillean Prance is former director of The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and current Scientific Director of the Eden Project in Cornwall. He has spent eight years in the field in Brazil and has a worldwide interest in sustainable development of rainforest ecosystems.

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5 Responses

  1. Tom Lock says:

    Dear Sir/ Madam,
    If the international body has failed in the past thirteen years to reign in the illegal loggers, slash and burn peasants and/or halt the terrific destruction of the Amazon jungles… then why are you so enthususiastic about the United Nations forum on Forests doing anything to halt the process? The organisation has never had any teeth and as we are dealing mostly with illegal activities, massive corruption and desperate people I fail to see how yet another monitoring body is going to change things. The war has to be taken to the loggers and into the loopholes of government high corruption. Within the whole Amazon basin gold miners and slave gangs prevail. The situation has changed for the worse since the Conquest and I for one am sick of hearing about the Western world sitting on it's hands whilst the last wild places are destroyed, and for what?
    It's time to really put our money where our mouths are. When dealing with something so important I'm afraid bad manners is just something you are going to have to put up with. Why not stop the bulldozers and peasants with a barrel of a gun, after all Richard Leakey saved the African Elephant this way. We aren't dealing with AlQeada! Loggers are no different than poachers, no matter what their economic hardships. South America is in real trouble and if we can't physically put the forests and 30% of the worlds animal and plant species before some of the six billion humans that inhabit this earth then we should give up now!
    I have a problem with fast tracking jungle peoples and turning them into honarary western conservationists. Surely they should be left alone for as long as possible. By introducing them to hard currency to 'improve their lives'won't we be turning them into the Western poor to live on the outskirts of our society? In ten years will small shanty towns be popping up all over interior Brazil, and one day will the Indians decide to go logging or slash and burn farming for a few extra dollars to buy a T.V and drown their alchaholism? Since nothing has worked so far don't you think it's time for drastic action? Gut the hard wood trade! Illegalise it like trade in endangered species. Of course we can save the forests…. but I don't think we really want to make any hard decisions do we? What would the U.N think?

  2. aisling says:

    the internet is a great resource for creating awareness to these issues, and to connect with other, to come up with different, innovative ways to change the destruction of the planet. I commend you on your EcoInternet site, and the work that you are doing. I also want to offer CitizenSHIFT, , a socially active website based in Canada as a Forum for further discussion. we are able to reach many people and organizations, and also offer RSS/XML feeds to internet users as a fast, independent news resource.
    feel free to contact me at anytime,

  3. Nell says:

    i really like how you are eager to help the rainforest and i would like to help alot so tell me if there is enything i can do. i an a big helper and want to help save the rainforest all over the world for the furite generations to enjoy

  4. Ronald says:

    Now you can do something to save the rainforest of Costa Rica, a site of Costa Rica donate $1 for t-shirt sold to save and protect the National parks because the gouvernment do not have the money enough to protect the National parks.
    The site is

  5. grace says:

    well hello forest conservation blog, how are you on this fine snowy day? I hope you are doing fine and all is well! I'm at school right now, i hope to meet the owner of this website one day beacause it is such a wondeful website!!

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