Targets to preserve world’s forests will not be met by 2010: Study

May 23rd, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 23 (ANI): A new analysis has revealed that the attempts to preserve 10 per cent of the world’s forests are falling short, and targets set under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will not be met by 2010.

The study shows that only 7.7 percent of the globe’s 20 major types of forests are currently protected, according to categories established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), headquartered in Gland, Switzerland.

The study is primarily based on the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s definition of a forest-that is, an area of land more than 0.5 hectares in size with more than 10 per cent canopy cover.

“According to our analysis, the CBD targets will not be met,” Nature magazine quoted Neil Burgess, a conservation scientist at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the study’s authors, as saying.

In 2004, a total of 191 countries, excluding the United States, agreed to the CBD target of 10 percent.

Burgess said that although 7.7 percent is “reasonably good”, CBD signatories agreed to 10 percent “because it was thought this level of protection was necessary for biodiversity conservation”.

According to him, it is now recognized that protecting forests is also important for efforts to stabilize climate change, “so if we are failing to meet the target it could be even worse for climate stabilization than for biodiversity.”

The study found that 65 percent of the ecoregions have less than 10 percent of their forests protected.

In fact, the highest level of protection-with more than 50 per cent of forest protected-was found in ecoregions in parts of the Amazon, southeast Asia and Alaska.

According to Burgess, it is “good news” that many of the most important areas for biodiversity are being protected at a level above the 10 percent target.

The group used data from an existing map, published in 2000, of global forest cover from the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK. The researchers updated this map using satellite data collected in 2005.

John Healy, a forest ecologist at the University of Wales, Bangor, said that the study was important because it looked at forest protection in ecoregions and by forest type, rather than just total forest cover.

However, he added: “The reality is we don’t know whether the protection status is being enforced on the ground.” (ANI)

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