Deforestation could double unless we act now

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 Nov 2011

It’s possible to reduce deforestation to near zero by 2020, but delaying action to save forests by even a decade means double the area of forests lost by 2030, says WWF.

Our forests are disappearing while we sort out how to save them

According to the latest chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, “Forests and Climate”, the world stands to lose 55.5 million hectares of forest between now and 2020, even if we take urgent action to reduce deforestation. If the world delays the necessary steps, we stand to lose 124.7 million hectares by 2030, according to the report.

These forests are not only vital to the well-being of people and wildlife, but also to the global climate, because deforestation releases greenhouse gases, says WWF. The report finds that reducing deforestation to near zero would also bring global emissions from forest destruction close to zero, but delaying this reduction until 2030 would mean sacrificing an additional 69 million hectares of forest worldwide and at least an additional 24Gt CO2 into the atmosphere, not including losses from forest degradation or the carbon stored below ground. Currently, up to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation – more than the total emissions from the global transportation sector.

The report further finds that new plantations are not the solution, as they will not begin to sequester enough carbon to offset emissions from deforestation until 2040 at the earliest.

“Our forests are disappearing while we sort out how to save them,” said Bruce Cabarle, Leader of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative. “This continued loss of forests will have dire consequences for our global climate, for nature and for the livelihoods of billions of people. And we know we can’t plant our way out of the problem. The message is clear – we must act now to protect the world’s forests for good or we’ll lose them forever.” Continue reading

Africa’s water could rescue the continent from climate change

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 Nov 2011

The African continent is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture but can harness the potential for hydropower, said Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Monday.

Africa currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential

“The challenge for Africa is to decouple economic and social development from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation to an extent which has no precedent in the developed world,” said Molewa, who is leading the SA’s negotiation team at COP17 in Durban.

Water shortages caused by climate change threaten agriculture and human health in Africa, she said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted yields from rain-fed agriculture to shrink by half by 2020.

“This will spell famine for many,” she said.

Water shortages have already affected the agriculture and livestock industries in Kenya, she said, and African nations that currently have water surpluses will shift to water scarcity before 2025.

But Africa’s water resources could also rescue the continent from the effects of climate change in the form of renewable energy, she said. The continent currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential.

“A national, regional and international effort towards unlocking this potential is an example of how African societies could go from being amongst the most vulnerable to become climate resilient,” she said.

Molewa repeated the SA government’s support of the “polluter pays principle”, imploring developed nations to fund green projects in developing nations, since they are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Africa contributes only 4% of global GHG emissions, but SA is responsible for almost half of that.

Molewa also highlighted the Africa Pavilion at COP17, which presents opportunities for green-development projects on the continent.

The effects of climate change on Africa are “unacceptable” and climate-change talks must “produce a credible, fair, equitable and balanced outcome” in the coming weeks.

Source: Business Live

DRC – study warns of alarming trends

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 10 Oct 2011

With half of Africa’s forests and water resources and trillion-dollar mineral reserves, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could become a powerhouse of African development provided multiple pressures on its natural resources are urgently addressed.

About 50% of Africa’s total water resources are concentrated within the Congo basin

A major Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment of the DRC by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) underlines the global significance and extraordinary potential of the country’s natural and mineral resources.

However, the study warns of alarming trends including increased deforestation, species depletion, heavy metal pollution and land degradation from mining, as well as an acute drinking water crisis which has left an estimated 51 million Congolese without access to potable water.

The outcomes of the two-year assessment have been released today in Kinshasa, by UNEP’s Executive Director, Mr Achim Steiner, and the DRC’s Environment Minister, Mr José Endundo.

Conducted in conjunction with the DRC’s Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, the assessment highlights successful initiatives and identifies strategic opportunities to restore livelihoods, promote good governance and support the sustainability of the DRC’s post-conflict economic reconstruction, and reinforce ongoing peace consolidation.

The study’s good news is that most of the DRC’s environmental degradation is not irreversible and there has been substantial progress in strengthening environmental governance.

For example, through steps such as regular anti-poaching patrols, the Congolese Wildlife Authority has secured the Virunga National Park, which at the peak of the DRC’s crisis was losing the equivalent of 89 hectares of forest each day due to illegal fuelwood harvesting.

However, the country’s rapidly growing population of nearly 70 million people – most of whom directly depend on natural resources for their survival – and intense international competition for raw materials are adding to the multiple pressures on the DRC’s natural resource base. Continue reading

Amazon forest destruction accelerates

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 Aug 2011

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon accelerated in June, with more than 300 square kilometers destroyed, a 17 percent increase over the previous month, government researchers said Tuesday.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said 312.6 square kilometers (120 square miles) were destroyed in June, based on the preliminary analysis of satellite photos of the vast South American rainforest.

May had seen a decrease in deforestation to 268 square kilometers (100 square miles) from 477 square kilometers (180 square miles) in April.

In April, more than 400 square kilometers (150 square miles) of forests were destroyed in a single state, Mato Grosso, which is seen as a major agricultural frontier and is used for cattle ranches and soybean farming.

At the 2009 UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, Brazil committed itself to reducing Amazon deforestation by 80 percent by 2020.

Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country by area, has 5.3 million square kilometers of jungle and forests — mostly in the Amazon river basin — of which only 1.7 million are under state protection.

The rest is in private hands, or its ownership is undefined.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, and the pace of deforestation peaked in 2004 at 27,000 square kilometers (10,000 square miles) a year.

By 2010, however, it had dropped to 6,500 square kilometers, thanks in part to the INPE’s Real-Time Deforestation Detection System (DETER), which allows researchers to collect new satellite images on a daily basis.

However, the system can only monitor areas of 25 hectares (60 acres) or more, so its results are not considered definitive.

AFP

Business must back bold target to stop forest loss

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 April 2011

Policymakers and business leaders must quickly back a bold target to stop forest loss as part of efforts to conserve biodiversity and fight climate change, according to a new WWF report.

Borneo is an example of how business and government both work towards sustainable forest management

The first chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, released today, examines the drivers of deforestation and identifies the opportunities to shift from business as usual to a new model of sustainability, which can benefit government, business and communities.

Based on a new global analysis showing that more than 230 million hectares of forest will disappear by 2050 if no action is taken, the report proposes that policymakers and businesses unite around a goal of zero net deforestation and forest degradation (ZNDD) by 2020 as a groundbreaking global benchmark to avoid dangerous climate change and curb biodiversity loss.

“We are squandering forests now by failing to sort out vital policy issues such as governance and economic incentives to keep forests standing,” said Rod Taylor, WWF International Forests Director.

Business and governments need forests

The first chapter of the report comes as business and political leaders meet this week in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the Business 4 Environment Global Summit (B4E). The conference will be addressed by His Excellency Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia. Continue reading