$29 billion needed by 2020 to save world’s rainforests

Global deforestation rates are likely to accelerate in the coming decade, threatening efforts to control climate change and land degradation, Guyana’s former President has warned.

Bharrat Jagdeo says rainforest areas twice the size of the UK could be destroyed unless US$ 29 billion is provided between now and 2020 to promote ‘forest-friendly’ growth.

This could deliver a 50% reduction in annual deforestation across the 26 net deforesting countries – equating to US$ 3.6 billion per year.

In a report called Rediscovering Ambition on Forests (Draft), he calls on developed countries to follow the lead of Norway, which has formed partnerships with Brazil and Guyana offering funding and support to forest protection.

“I’ve met with leaders and citizens from most of the world’s forest countries. They have the vision and ambition to meet these challenges and are ready to build new partnerships now,” he said.

“Leaders in the developed world have committed money to tackle climate change. Now we need to break the deadlock. It is an opportunity that we can’t afford to squander.”

Forest rich nations say they deserve payment to protect their natural resources, since they perform valuable services for the planet

Last November Brazil reported deforestation in the Amazon was at a ‘record low’ since monitoring began. Rates had been declining since 2004, although reports in January suggest this could be rising again.

Guyana aims to maintain 99.5% of its forest and eliminate virtually all energy-based emissions by 2017. Despite its deal with Norway it is unclear if deforestation has decreased.

According to the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions are derived from deforestation, the third highest contributor after energy and industry. Rainforests also play a vital role in the water cycle and are rich in biodiversity.

The United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programme is already working in 46 countries to incentivise sustainable land management – but it is not expected to be fully functioning before 2020.

Jagdeo, an Roving Ambassador for the Three Basins Initiative, which offers technical support to forest nations in South America, Africa and South East Asia, is a strong advocate of bilateral efforts which he says will ensure forests are saved intact.

“Developed nations can pay for the global services provided by forests, and this in turn can fund economic growth which dramatically increases food production, protects forests and reduces emissions”, he said.

“Even if people don’t care what happens in the developing world, this will reduce costs for adapting to climate change in the developed world.”

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