Ministers commit to zero net deforestation by 2020
Environment ministers from 60 countries including Germany, host of the 9th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP9), today showed WWF and the world they are serious in the fight to stop forest loss, thereby safeguarding biodiversity, global climate and people's well-being.
The ministers showed their commitment at a WWF event held during the conference in Bonn. Led by the CBD Executive Secretary, Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, the ministers and the EU Commissioner for the Environment made their commitment via signed postcards addressed to WWF International's Director-General, Mr James Leape.
"WWF is very pleased that governments are rising to the challenge of working towards zero net deforestation by 2020," said Mr Leape, who received the postcards from the ministers.
"I strongly urged other governments to follow the lead of these countries to agree on this target."
Despite much efforts, deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares per year, or 36 football fields a minute.
Deforestation and degradation of the world's forests have dramatic consequences for biodiversity, global climate and millions of people. Forest contains 90 per cent of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and have a vital role to play in the fight against global warming, being the largest storehouse of carbon on Earth.
Deforestation, particularly in the tropics, is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, generating between 15-20 per cent of global carbon emissions.
Loss of forests also implies the loss of goods and major ecological services to humanity - food, medicine, watershed protection, livelihoods, and climate and disaster mitigation.
About 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods, with 60 million indigenous people depending on forests for their subsistence.
"We need to reverse the trend in forest loss and stop further erosion of the world's biodiversity, both for nature and people's sakes," said Dr Djoghlaf.
"This initiative is welcome news for the biodiversity family gathered here in Bonn, to expedite the implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is indeed a timely initiative, and I applaud WWF for its unique contribution for protecting life on Earth."
WWF has set the 2020 zero deforestation target to support and enhance the CBD's Forest Programme of Work. The target also complements global efforts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which at its conference of parties in Bali last December, which acknowledged the need to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Although ambitious, the target does provide sufficient time for action as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) initiatives will be operational when the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect post 2012.
Additionally, as a study by WWF-Brazil and partners launched yesterday revealed, protected areas is a useful and viable tool to achieve reduction in forest loss and mitigating climate change.
"WWF would like to see the CBD COP9 adopt this 2020 zero net deforestation target here in Bonn," Mr Leape said.
"Governments have to act now or we will lose even more the forests that are life's basic building blocks, and that provide essential services to humanity."
WWF thanks all ministers who signed the postcards and pledges to support and work with them in the fight to stop forest loss.