Climate change conference urges strategies to curb massive deforestation

9 December 2005

With 2 billion tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere each year due to forest loss, accounting for 25 per cent of all man-made emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), the United Nations climate change conference in Montreal today heard urgent pleas for financial incentives and other strategies to curb deforestation.

“There are a number of strategies that countries can use to accurately monitor reductions in deforestation and increases in carbon storage, especially in tropical countries where forests do the most to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Dieter Schoene, of the Forestry Department of the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO).

This type of reporting would be key to any scheme to create strategies to retain forest carbon storage in developing countries. FAO offered today to provide such data and technical advice to countries attending the conference.

According to a recent report by the agency, the world’s forests store 283 gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone, while the total carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is roughly 50 per cent more than the amount found in the atmosphere – adding up to 1 trillion tons.

The report shows that destruction of forests adds almost 2 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere each year.

“Preventing this stored carbon from escaping is important for maintaining the global carbon balance and vital to conserving the environment,” according to Mr. Schoene.

Yesterday at the conference, Klaus Topfer, head of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) marked Arctic Day, saying it was one of the regions that were showing obvious effects of climate change.

“If anyone has any doubt that climate change is underway they need only listen to the many small voices from this region – the early warning system of the globe,” he said.

The 11-day UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) is seeking to draw up an action plan for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gases expires.


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