UN Declares 2011 the 'International Year of Forests'
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Condensed by Native Village
years ago, the first
trees grew on Earth. Now the United Nations is urging
that our forests and the
people who depend on
them be protected.
They have named
as the "International Year of Forests." Their message:
forests and their inhabitants don't work against each
other, but are allies.
"Each minute that we spend on this planet breathing in
and breathing out, about 25 hectares [62 acres]
of forests are lost," said Joseph Deiss, president of the U.N.
General Assembly. "Ultimately, as history reminds us, in the past,
entire civilizations collapse due to deforestation."
of degraded forest land
of degraded crop land.
Plants and animal species are disappearing at an
"Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation account for
more than those by the world's entire transportation
sector," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a
Some progress is being made. For instance,
of forest cover disappeared in the past decade. That
compares with 8,300,000 hectares
That is a 37%
The most progress in ending deforestation has been made
in Asia. Within Asia, China is responsible for
in the world.
The area making the least progress is Latin America.
"We still are in a half-empty glass but there is
progress," said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, forestry
director. "The Latin America region
is the one that brings this half-empty glass."
Tanzania: Forests had almost disappeared in the Shinyanga
region, and people suffered high levels of poverty.
Efforts by the government and communities have led to
the restoration of over 500,000 hectares
of forests and agricultural land.
"Those communities almost doubled the household income
they received from the forests," said Stewart Maginnis
from the International Union for
Conservation of Nature.
Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said jobs were available in area of forest
management and conservation.
"A lot of graduates can be employed at that level," she
Rwanda is being hailed for forging ahead to repair its
lost soil, land and water.
"Ecosystem restoration is not about planting trees only,
but it's ensuring that you establish the balance that
ought to be between human livelihood and the environment
they live in," said Stanislas Kimanzi, the Rwandan
minister for environment.
In the landmark agreement signed in Nagoya, Japan last
countries pledged to restore
of degraded ecosystems by
While several nations have not even created plans,
Rwanda is expected to exceed its target.
The Nagoya agreement also targets the protection of
of the world's land surface and
the oceans. It also hopes to prevent the extinction of
known threatened species by
Another new UN treaty is
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources calls
for equal sharing of genetic resources.
"It is a partnership between the user of biodiversity
and the owner of biodiversity," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the
head of the U.N. body on biodiversity.
Colombia, Algeria, Brazil and Yemen were the first to
sign onto the treaty. The Plant Genetic Treaty needs
ratifications to come into force.
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