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Conference aims to protect forest habitats
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An estimated 1.6 billion people depend directly on forest resources, and every person on the planet benefits from the ecosystem services these forests provide. This week and next, the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meets in Cancun, Mexico. The meeting will have a major bearing on forest conservation.
Conference aims to protect forest habitats

Ian Redmond OBE, Chairman of the Ape Alliance, has delivered an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to use his influence to ensure that ambitious targets for reducing deforestation and forest degradation are agreed. Ian Redmond said: “It is vital that a sound mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is finalised at Cancun.”

The Ape Alliance’s letter to the Prime Minister calls for the REDD+ mechanism to include ‘clear and ambitious targets’ and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Ape Alliance is a coalition of 80 organisations concerned with the survival of apes and their habitat. The Alliance is holding an event, hosted by Sir David Attenborough, at the Lyceum Theatre on 6th December called Hope 4 Apes (www.4apes.com/hope/). Funds raised will go towards ape conservation projects.

Biodiversity loss and climate change are two of the biggest threats facing the world today. If we are to tackle such threats, a robust mechanism for the protection of forests is crucial.

“It is estimated that tropical and sub-tropical forest and woodland ecosystems comprise more than 50 per cent of all species; they also absorb about a fifth of anthropogenic greenhouse gases each year. We in the Ape Alliance would stress that for forests to have permanence as a carbon store, it is essential for them to regenerate,” said Ian Redmond.

“Up to 95 per cent of tropical tree species have their seeds dispersed by fruit-eating animals such as primates. These seed dispersal agents are often described as the ‘Gardeners of the Forest’ because they plant the trees of tomorrow,” he added.

Many apes are threatened by commercial hunting – much of it illegal. Hence, if a REDD+ agreement is to ensure continuity of natural carbon capture and storage, it is essential to use the revenues generated to protect the whole forest ecosystem, including the animals.

Ian Redmond said: “REDD+ holds the promise of slowing biodiversity loss as well as stabilising the climate. This will not happen if REDD finance is permitted to subsidise continued industrial logging of the world’s few remaining old-growth forests or the continued clearance of important natural forests for agriculture.”


Credits:: Picture by kind permission of Nico Dattani

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