Between deforestation and global warming, the Amazon forest could lose more than half its size, throwing the world climate even farther out of whack, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
That's just one reason the preservation of forests has been one of the most important issues facing delegates at the United Nations global warming summit in Bali. Annually, the world loses about 50,000 square miles of forests, an area almost the size of Louisiana, and enough to account for about one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing a scheme that pays countries, particularly poor nations, to save their forests was not part of the Kyoto Protocol, and finding a scheme that would be both effective, fair and affordable is proving a difficult, if central, challenge for the discussions in Bali, where 190 nations are negotiating terms for a successor agreement.
Friday, the Center for International Forestry Research recommended creating a multibillion-dollar carbon trading program that would include payments to forest owners who leave forests intact, so they can continue absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. But, the organization warned, governments might use those payments to exploit forest dwellers if the "Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (a.k.a. "Reducing Emission from Deforestation in Developing Countries," or REDD) program is not constructed carefully.
Indonesia, according to Asia Pulse, is ready to implement a pilot REDD, based on research it has conducted with help from Britain, Australia, Germany and the World Bank. Deforestation in Indonesia makes it the world's third-biggest polluter, behind China and the United States, and much of the deforestation now occurs to make way for palm oil plantations.
And in a new twist, six Asia-Pacific nations rich in coral reefs are asking that the forests of the sea be considered carbon sinks, and therefore eligible to be an asset in the worldwide carbon trade, if preserved, according to Chinese state-run media.
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