Forestry takes centre-stage at U.N. talks on nature
NAGOYA, Japan |
NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters) - Delegates at a global U.N. meeting to preserve natural resources were on Tuesday trying to agree on ways to deploy about $4 billion (2 billion pounds) in cash to help developing nations save tropical forests.
The talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya are aimed at setting new 2020 targets to protect plant and animal species, a protocol to share genetic resources between countries and companies and more funding to protect nature, especially forests.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates global deforestation fell from 16 million hectares (40 million acres) per year in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per year in the past decade, with the bulk of the losses in tropical countries.
About 12 percent of the world's forests are designated primarily to conserve biological diversity, the FAO said in report earlier this month.
Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and help curb the pace of climate change. They are also key water catchments, help clean the air and are home to countless species.
"Our forests need immediate action," said Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told the meeting.
Ministers are focussing on a voluntary partnership covering nearly 70 nations aimed at boosting a U.N.-backed scheme that seeks to reward developing countries that preserve and restore forests.
Called REDD-plus, or reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, the scheme has attracted funding pledges from rich nations aimed at developing pilot forest preservation projects as well as ways to channel the cash in a transparent way.
But the partnership has had a troubled start, with bickering over management of the cash and procedural issues. The Nagoya meeting is meant to breathe life into the scheme ahead of major climate talks in Mexico late next month.
Ministers are due to release a statement at the end of their one-day REDD talks on Tuesday before turning their attention to trying to seal 2020 targets and a genetic-benefits sharing pact that could generate billions of dollars for poorer nations.
Negotiations on the pact have taken years and the United Nations says Nagoya needs to agree tougher targets to save forests, reefs, rivers and wetlands that underpin livelihoods and economies.
"We are at a very pivotal time. We are losing biodiversity on the planet at an alarming rate that cannot go on or our children and our grandchildren will be that much poorer," Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Reuters in an interview.
Underscoring this, a WWF report showed that between 1999-2009, about 1,200 new species of plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals were discovered in the Amazon, but ere under threat from deforestation and climate change.
Findings included a blind red fish, a coin-sized black frog with pink rings on its body and a blue-fanged tarantula.
"We are really dealing with an issue of tremendous risk to humanity and security," said Yolanda Kakabadse, president of WWF International.
A separate report by International Union for Conservation of Nature highlighted the need to protect diversity of Asia's plant species, which support ecosystems and are a key source of food and medicines. Pollution, habitat loss and over-harvesting all posed major threats to plant diversity, it said.
(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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