Loss of forests spells death of bio-diversity

June 26th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 26 (IANS) The earth is losing 15 million hectares of tropical forests every year — something that could sound the death-knell of rich bio-diversity areas and human well-being. The loss of forest cover is also causing species to be lost at a rate of nearly 10,000 times higher than would happen randomly without the presence of humans, a review study has warned.

The study describes it as our “trajectory towards disaster” and calls for an immediate global, multi-pronged conservation approach to avert the worst outcomes.

“This is not just about losing tiny species found at the base of big trees in a rain forest few people will ever see, this is about a complete change in ecosystem services that directly benefit human life,” said co-author Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide.

“The majority of the world’s population live in the tropics and what is at stake is the survival of species that pollinate most of the world’s food crops, purify our water systems, attenuate severe flood risk, sequester carbon (taking carbon dioxide out of the air) and modify climate.”

“We must not accept belief that all is well in the tropics, or that the situation will improve with economic development, nor use this as an excuse for inaction on the vexing conservation challenges of this century,” Bradshaw said.

“We need to start valuing forests for all the services they provide, and richer nations should be investing in the maintenance of tropical habitats.”

The findings of the study have been published online in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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