Forest Protected Areas Can Help Slow Climate Change

A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change. The study, “Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change,” was published in the March 2010 issue of PLoS Biology—a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The report makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to Reduce Emissions of greenhouse gases from Deforestation and forest Degradation (nicknamed REDD).

According to the study, “Forest clearing and degradation account for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trains, planes, ships, and trucks on earth. This is simply too big a piece of the problem to ignore; fail to reduce it and we will fail to stabilize our climate.”

Birds-eye view of a forest canopy. Tambopata Region, Amazon, Peru.

Taylor Ricketts, director of World Wildlife Fund’s science program and lead author of the study, remarked, “Our paper emphasizes that creating and strengthening indigenous lands and other protected areas can offer an effective means to cut emissions while garnering numerous additional benefits for local people and wildlife.” The paper highlights analyses showing that since 2002, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been 7 to 11 times lower inside of indigenous lands and other protected areas than elsewhere.

For more information and specific details on cost and how forest nations can strengthen the role of protected areas in their REDD strategies, see WWF’s Press Release: Study Highlights Forest Protected Areas as a Critical Strategy for Slowing Climate Change (16 March 2010).

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