Save intact forests for humanity’s sake, urge experts

The world’s largest forests can help solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity, but only if we move to safeguard them, argue two experts in a New York Times op-ed published ahead of Earth Day. Tom Lovejoy, a distinguished Amazon rainforest researcher who serves as Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation, and John Reid, an economist who applies economic modeling in service of forests and wildlands, make a case for protecting the planet’s last “intact forest landscapes” — areas of at least 500 square kilometers of unbroken natural tree cover — for the role they can play in reversing three critical challenges: “climate change, the sixth great extinction crisis and the loss of human cultures.” Tropical rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler Climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services Intact forests have a disproportionate importance when it comes to sequestering carbon with intact forests in the tropics storing 40 percent of above-ground carbon despite representing only 20 percent of tropical forest cover, note Lovejoy and Reid. That means conservation of intact forests is one of the most cost-effective climate change mitigation mechanisms. And beyond sequestering carbon, intact forests afford other ecological benefits, including stabilizing precipitation patterns and temperatures locally and regionally. In fact there are fears that continuing deforestation, fragmentation, and degradation of the tropics’ largest intact forest landscape, the Amazon, could trigger water shortages in South America’s agricultural heartland and megacities. Andean cock-of-the-rock from the Western Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler Biodiversity Intact forests…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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