July 07, 2003

Entire Rainforests Set to Disappear in Next Decade

We are so desperately far from coming to grips with
the gravest threats to our future on this planet.
Every day that the _resident's small-minded,
short-sighted, mean-spirited world-view remains
unchallenged at the highest levels of our
three-branched government and in the mainstream news
media we drift farther and farther from reality. The
international community is in dire need of inspired
leadership...

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0705-06.htm

Published on Saturday, July 5, 2003 by the
lndependent/UK
Entire Rainforests Set to Disappear in Next Decade
by Marie Woolf

More than 23 million acres of the world's forests -
enough to cover the whole of Scotland - are
disappearing each year because of logging, mining and
land clearance for agriculture.

The scale of deforestation is so great that some
countries, such as Indonesia, could lose entire
rainforests in the next 10 years. The appetite for
wood for furniture, floors and building in Europe and
North America is shrinking the world's forests at a
rate of 2.4 per cent every 10 years, official figures
show.

Hilary Benn, an International Development minister,
who released the United Nations statistics, said that
they did not take into account deforestation caused by
"trade in illegal timber".

According to the UN figures showing the depletion of
forests between 1990 and 2000, the worst-affected
country was Haiti, which lost 5.7 per cent of its
stock in that period. Saint Lucia's forestry was
eroded by 4.9 per cent and El Salvador's by 4.6 per
cent. Other big losers included Micronesia (4.5 per
cent), Comoros (4.3 per cent) and Rwanda (3.9 per
cent).

The habitats of the orang-utan, bonobo ape and lowland
gorilla are under threat and the world's rarest
creatures, including the Sumatran tiger and rhino, are
being forced to retreat into Indonesia's ever-
shrinking forests.

The figures follow the disclosure by The Independent
of the alarming rate at which the Amazon rainforest is
being destroyed. Logging of Brazil's rainforests has
leapt by 40 per cent in the past year, with 25,500sq
km felled in that time.

Andy Tait, the forests campaigner at Greenpeace, said:
"The world bank estimates that the lowland rainforest
of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, which is the
home of the orang-utan, has less than 10 years to go
until it is completely logged out."

MPs called on the Government to put more pressure on
international governments to use wood produced in
sustainable logging programs.

Norman Baker, Environment spokesman for the Liberal
Democrats, said the Government must stop using
mahogany and sapele wood in its public building
projects.

"Deforestation is an almost irreversible process. You
cannot grow a forest overnight. Excessive forest
farming must be curbed. Otherwise the adage that
'forests proceed man, deserts follow him' will sadly
ring true," he said.

2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

###

Posted by richard at July 7, 2003 12:14 PM