We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

GR:  Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and of biodiversity decline, extinction of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Economists and agritechnologists talk of reversing it now, but even in the U. S., forest harvest continues. In poorer countries, the immediate needs for cash and land for crops is not going to end with the advent of more productive crops and efficient farming methods. Such symptom treatments will not end deforestation. It will not stop until we reverse human population growth. Of course, reducing need isn’t the only problem, we might also have to control our greed, a much more difficult task.

Likouala-aux-Herbes river near in Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest tropical forest. Photograph: Hope Productions/Yann Arthus Bertrand / Getty Images

“If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

Rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s animals. Photograph: Getty Images

“People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

A logging mill in the Amazon Basin, Peru. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

“As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

“The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.” –John Vidal (Continue reading:  We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years | John Vidal | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)

Chinas Hunger For Timber Is Wrecking Mozambique

China’s hunger for timber is wrecking Mozambique

“China, with its rapidly urbanizing population, is the world’s biggest importer of wood products. And in its dealings with Mozambique, it is increasingly buying timber that is illegally harvested, according to a new report (pdf). The nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency compared Mozambique’s official harvest numbers to global import numbers and calculated that 93% of Mozambique’s timber was illegally harvested in 2013, up from 76% in 2007—and most of that goes to China.

“That’s perhaps no surprise; Mozambique is poor and timber is a good source of income. But the level of illegal logging and timber smuggling for the Chinese market is way beyond sustainable levels, despite claims to the contrary by Mozambican officials, according to the EIA. If the excessive focus on just a handful of commercial timber species continues, the country’s commercial stocks will be largely depleted in the next 15 years.

“The figures are complicated by some rather murky Mozambican government accounting. In 2013, China reported imports of some 516,000 cubic meters of timber from Mozambique, while the Mozambican government reported only 281,000 cubic meters of exports. In theory, then, just under half of the timber China imported was illegally exported. But in that year the Mozambican government also registered only 66,000 cubic meters of legal timber harvest—far less than it said it licensed for export. Hence, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reckons, the vast majority of the wood going to China is illegally harvested.

mozambique export timber

The illegal exports mean that Mozambique suffered losses of $146 million in potential export and exploration taxes from 2007-2013, the EIA says. That could have covered the 2014 state budget for poverty-alleviation programs more than twice over. It could, alternatively, have covered 30 years of law enforcement for Mozambique’s National Forest Program, according to the report from the EIA.

“What’s worse, if illegal logging continues in order to meet China’s demand, the number of “first” and “precious class” woods—the species of woods China imports—will be completely depleted by 2029. “China wants the timber as raw in form as possible,” said Jago Wadley, Senior Forest Campaigner at the EIA. “They don’t want to invest in manufacturing or invest in the country they’re operating in.”

mozambique timber depletion

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)