as countries struggle respond In warmer climates, a new study provides the largest and most comprehensive review to date of how to stop deforestation – a major cause of climate-warming greenhouse gases, Second Only for fossil fuel emissions. Led by Conservation International climate economics expert Joanna Bush, the research draws on findings from 320 peer-reviewed studies that focus on why deforestation is accelerating and how to stop it.
with international efforts protect nature And fight climate change Taking the lead, Bush said he hoped the study’s findings would serve as a roadmap to protect forests, “among our best allies in reducing emissions and cooling a rapidly warming planet.” One.”
“World leaders commit to fighting climate change stop and reverse deforestation by 2030,” he said. “This new study may help guide policies and investments toward actions that support those goals – and away from those that do not.”
that slows down deforestation
Study finds that of all methods proven to stop deforestation, protected areas – such as national parks, wilderness reserves and other places set aside for nature conservation – are the most effective at reducing deforestation .
“Protected areas are a tried and true way of conserving nature and preventing the climate crisis,” Bush said. “However, not all protected areas are created equal – their location is important. To really help mitigate climate change, protected areas have to be in the right places.”
currently, about 17 percent Most of the planet’s land is protected, but many of those protected areas are in remote locations where the threat of deforestation is relatively low. As countries step up security efforts 30 percent Of land – scientists and conservationists say it is essential to prevent biodiversity loss and climate change – new protected areas should be created in places where deforestation is most likely to occur in the first place.
According to the study, this means more populated areas and greater proximity to cities and roads. Understanding these drivers of deforestation can help guide where new protected areas are established — and ensure they have a greater impact on protecting nature and the climate, Bush said.
Further reading: Protected forests are a climate powerhouse
Additionally, the study found that indigenous areas or lands managed by indigenous people have consistently low rates of deforestation, either because of traditional land-management practices that promote forests, or because indigenous lands are located in remote areas. and there is little chance of change. Agriculture, said Bush.
In 2017, Bush and his colleagues published a Analysis Deforestation using studies available at that time. In the six years since then, the amount of research demonstrating that indigenously managed lands prevent deforestation has more than doubled – providing the strongest evidence yet that upholding indigenous land rights and Officially recognizing indigenous territories is key to reducing deforestation.
“There is a flood of evidence,” he said. “Indigenous management undoubtedly slows deforestation.”
protect land rights Enables indigenous communities to practice their own systems of resource management, which in turn helps protect land and water – and supports global conservation goals. In particular, at the end of last year the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity frameworkan agreement signed by nearly 200 countries protect natureThe rights and contributions of indigenous peoples were formally recognized.
Further reading: Secure Indigenous rights, to achieve global conservation goals
Other successful approaches to halting deforestation are based on creating financial incentives for communities to keep forests intact – for example, by carbon valuation Which trees remove from the atmosphere and store in their stems and soil. The study found that providing benefits to communities that keep their trees standing reduces the rate of deforestation.
For example, revenue from the sale of carbon credits Can generate much needed investment in local communities – such as improving health services, funding scholarships or supporting new job opportunities. in kenya Chylu Hills The area – where forest has been destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture and the burning of coal for fuel wood – Conservation International and partners have launched a carbon project that is helping to conserve and restore 404,000 hectares (1 million acres) of land, secure new livelihoods for the local community and prevent the release of surrounding 30 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Additionally, the study found that commodity certification programs, which allow farmers to sell coffee, palm oil or other products at a higher price in exchange for protecting trees, are also associated with lower rates of deforestation. As are companies’ commitments to end deforestation in their supply chains.
what drives deforestation
What is the main reason for deforestation in the tropics? In a word: agriculture. It is responsible for 90 percent of all tropical deforestation, which is roughly the same 9 million hectares (22 million acres) of forest are destroyed each year—the equivalent of more than 8 million football fields.
Why is agriculture so harmful to forests? It falls under economic stimulus, Bush said.
“Land is valuable and scarce,” he said. “The economic value of cutting down forests to grow crops is consistently well reflected in global markets – in short, it’s a money maker. But despite the enormous benefits trees provide in terms of clean water, the ability to store climate-warming carbon, and much more, global markets do not value standing forests in the same way.
Finally, there were other factors of deforestation that surprised Bush, either because they had never been previously identified in a peer-reviewed paper, or because they went against conventional wisdom.
For example, Bush pointed to a persistent myth that poverty drives people to cut down forests on their own land to grow crops and meet basic needs. However, repeated evidence shows that poverty doesn’t cause deforestation—wealth does, he said.
“The more resources people or companies have, the more access they have to the equipment and labor needed to clear forests – and the easier they can get loans to clear large tracts of land,” Bush said. Are.”
The study is also the first to identify a link between higher temperatures and more deforestation. This is probably because the hot and dry conditions create forests more sensitive to fireBush, which is responsible for most of the deforestation in many parts of the world. This finding suggests that an increase in deforestation may be another unwanted consequence of global warming.
Ultimately, climate change is making forests more important and more vulnerable. It’s a vicious cycle: Deforestation is causing climate change – and it’s also fueling it.
“This summer’s record-breaking heat is a reminder that climate change is happening now,” Bush said. “Forests are one of our best defenses against climate change – but only if they are left standing.”