We may have some positive news, just as the 14th World Forestry Congress assembled at Durban in South Africa last week.
According to reports, 2015 is turning into one of the most significant years in terms of environmental conservation efforts. Countries are increasingly taking up the cause of preservation and what’s more, it appears that depletion of forests has shown strong signs of slowing down.
But does this mean that our collective attempts so far are good enough? Let’s look at the news we’ve received from various communities and find out.
Global Forest Resources
This report is published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN every 5 years and is one of the most comprehensive reviews of the world’s forests. This year, it was released during the Forestry Congress in Durban and one of the most positive findings was that global conservation efforts are moving in the right direction.
Compared to the 1990s, the rate of deforestation has almost halved to 0.08% in the last five years. The natural forest cover is still on a decline but has slowed dramatically, as countries have improved their management of forests. Meanwhile, researchers at Yale University conducted an intensive mapping of trees worldwide and found that individual trees currently number 3.04 trillion! That is more than 7 times previous estimates.
However, the fact remains that over the last 25 years, we have lost forest area almost equivalent to the size of South Africa. Not surprisingly, the biodiversity – including animals, plants and insects – and climate change have also been affected. The Yale study indicates that despite the current tree population, almost half of the world’s tree cover has been destroyed from when the human race began.
Ideally, deforestation should not just be stopped, but also reversed. This way, forests can be sustainably harvested and preserved.
This year’s theme for the Forestry Congress which was held between 7-11th of September was “Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future”. The focus was on the conflict between people trying to eke out a living from the forests and the wildlife in the forest ecosystems. The conference sought to unite governments, NGOs and scientists, and encourage them to implement legislation (laws) that promote conservation.
A few months back, Sri Lanka became the first country to adopt a national policy to preserve its mangroves (we had written here). And during the Congress, the African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, and Mozambique signed a momentous pact to jointly resolve illegal cross-border trade in timber.
Activists hope that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris in December 2015 will kick-start many more such initiatives.