Video Credit: Google
Kathmandu Nepal : Forests are an important part of the global ecosystem. Due to factors such as population and agricultural expansion, deforestation and illegal timber trade, current forest protection is facing a severe situation.
Many countries and international organisations actively participate in various projects, discuss and summarise experiences, strengthen cooperation and jointly promote forest protection.
The theme of the recently held International Forest Day 2021, promoted by the United Nations, has been “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. The Portuguese UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has said that forests are vital to human well-being and the planet’s health, but the current rate of their disappearance is shocking. He has therefore urged governments, organisations and individuals to take urgent action to restore and conserve forests in order to sow the seeds for a sustainable future.
Currently, the statu quo of global forest protection does not give cause for optimism. The annual loss of global forests amounts to ten million hectares, the size of Iceland’s land surface. In its latest Global Forest Resources Assessment, FAO has pointed out that a total of 420 million hectares of world’s forests have been destroyed since 1990.
Forms of destruction include deforestation, destruction of forest land for agriculture or infrastructure development, etc. Data show that population and agricultural expansion are still the main reasons for deforestation, forest degradation and loss of forest biodiversity. According to the report, 40% of tropical forests were cleared between 2000 and 2010 due to large-scale agricultural development and 33% due to local subsistence agriculture.
Timber smuggling is also a major cause of forest degradation: in some countries, the destruction of 90% of tropical forests is connected to this illegal activity. In recent years, the extremely dry climate caused by climate change has led to frequent forest fires around the world and triggered a number of major indirect disasters.
In October 2021 the EU’s Joint Research Centre reported that 2019 was the worst year for forest fires in the world: in Europe alone, over 400,000 hectares of forests were destroyed and the area of nature reserves affected by fires also hit a new high.
The survival of forests is closely related to the sustainability of earth’s ecology. Carbon emissions caused by forest reduction are estimated to account for 12% to 15% of global emissions. As underlined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and by FAO in its above stated report, “the rate of deforestation and forest degradation is still alarmingly high. This is one of the main reasons for the continuing loss of biodiversity”.
The report states that, in order to reverse the severe situation of deforestation and biodiversity loss, countries need to make changes in food production and consumption, as well as protect and manage forests and trees as part of building integrated landscape ecosystems, so as to repair the damage already done.
Some countries and regions, particularly those with abundant forest resources (such as Brazil), are actively taking measures to strengthen forest protection and sustainable development and to achieve green economic transformation.
The Amazon is one of Brazil’s “calling cards”. Its rainforest has a total area of about 5.5 million square kilometres, over 60% of which is in Brazil, and the rest in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, (formerly British) Guyana, Peru, Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) and Venezuela. The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most species-rich rainforest in the world, accounting for 20% of the world’s forest surface. It is called the Earth’s lung and green heart.