Monday, July 14, 2008

WORLD'S FORESTS THREATENED BY POPULATION GROWTH

New Scientist Two reports [say] that booming demand for food, fuel and wood as the world's population surges from 6 to 9 billion will put unprecedented and unsustainable demand on the world's remaining wooded ecosystems.

"Arguably, we are on the verge of the last great global land grab," says Andy White, co-author of Seeing People Through the Trees, one of the two reports which are both published by Rights and Resources Initiative, a US organization.

White's report said that unless agricultural productivity rises sharply, new land equivalent in size to 12 times the area of Germany will have to be cultivated for crops to meet food and biofuel demand by 2030.

Virtually all of it is likely to be in developing countries, principally land that is currently forested.

"Unless steps are taken, traditional forest owners, and the forests themselves, will be the big losers," says White. "It will mean more deforestation, more conflict, more carbon emissions, more climate change and less prosperity for everyone."

The second report, From Exclusion to Ownership, notes that governments still claim ownership of most forests in developing countries, but says they have done little to ensure the rights and tenure of forest dwellers.

It says people whose main source of livelihood is the forests were usually the best custodians of the forests and their biodiversity.