September 28, 2022


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The Declaration on Forests has already been signed by more than 120 countries.  Poland too

The Declaration on Forests has already been signed by more than 120 countries. Poland too

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Attenborough at COP 26: Is this how our story ends?

Why, along with other COP26-approved announcements on November 2 and 3, do I consider this to be of major importance? First, the number of countries is surprising, especially the signatures of Brazil, China and Russia. The Polish signature is another nice touch, though not a surprise. As well as the American signature as announced President Joe Pedina.

We write more about the climate and the summit in Glasgow On the home page

Climate Summit in Glasgow. billions of forests

It is worth noting that on the first day, the declaration was signed by more than 100 countries, which are responsible for more than 86 percent. forests in the world. Concurrent with the announcement, there was an unprecedented announcement of financial support to protect and stop logging and restore forests. As part of the Global Forest Funding Pledge, 12 countries immediately announced that they would donate US$12 billion for this purpose for the years 2021-2025. In addition, the private sector has donated more than $7 billion USD. A fund of more than $1.5 billion has also been established purpose Protection of the Congo Basin, the second largest tropical forest after the Amazon Basin.

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To create real change and protect forests, the financial sector has responded, too. The heads of the 30 largest financial institutions, with assets estimated at $8.7 trillion, announced that they would eliminate investments in rural development that lead to deforestation. This means much less capital to fund activities that lead to deforestation and the potential to divert that money to other, hopefully, climate-friendly purposes.

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In the background, we have the LEAF (Reducing Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance Coalition), which has announced over $1 billion in public and private initiatives to benefit countries in tropical and subtropical climates successfully reducing emissions and halting deforestation. Under this mechanism, financial inclusion of the private sector is possible only when the company announces simultaneous significant reductions in emissions in its supply chain, as well as transparently reporting and monitoring of its indicators based on the concept of science-based targets. The Leaf mechanism reduces the so-called green wash. As a result, we have an opportunity to realize the largest public-private mechanism for the protection of tropical forests. In addition, there is an agreement between nine development banks to include forest protection financing as the main criterion for evaluating investment projects.

Forests as stores of carbon dioxide

Why are forests so important? To stop rising temperatures, we as humans must urgently stop emitting greenhouse gases, and this we can achieve, first and foremost, by abandoning burning fossil fuels. In parallel, we must constantly increase the storage capacity of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. in this place Forests are entering the battlefield to stop climate change as stores of carbon dioxide.

The IPCC report notes, among other things, the need to increase the area of ​​forests by hundreds of millions more to one billion hectares. To do this, the first thing you need to know is where the forests can grow (see photo A below) and whether we have enough space for new forests. If they are cut down, they will be replaced by farmland, pasture land or human settlements. Or maybe there are areas where we can plant a forest immediately and there are no fields, pastures, or human cities? Do we know how many of these areas are available?

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Map of forest land cover potential.Map of forest land cover potential. Ordu: “The Potential of Restoring the World Tree” Jean-François Bastien, Jelena Feingold, Claude Garcia, Danilo Molecon, Marcelo Resende, Devin Roth, Constantin M. Zoner, Thomas W. Crowther.

Fortunately, we have such a study. In 2018, Jean-François Bastina’s team announced in the journal Science wash “The possibility of restoring the world tree”. Scientists have developed an algorithm called random forest, in which artificial intelligence, replacing available data, calculates where and what type of forest can be created. The result was a map of potentially forested areas (see photo B and C above) and a comprehensive analysis of areas where implementation could be possible. Software afforestation. According to them, we can cover about 0.9 billion hectares of forest. If we allow these new forests to grow long enough, they will begin to store carbon dioxide in the wood. It should be noted that the storage process takes time, and forests emit almost as much carbon dioxide as they absorb continuously. In other words, the hope that forests alone will solve the problem of rising temperatures is a distant dream. This can only happen if, in parallel with protecting existing forests and planting new ones, we halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve global climate neutrality by 2050. Putting hope in the forests themselves does not make sense. Integrated actions and multiple pathways to reduce emissions are needed to contain the negative consequences of climate change.

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Just that without forests we wouldn’t be able to do it. Without forests, we also wouldn’t be able to recreate the natural habitats of other creatures I like to call other terrestrial creatures. The fact that we humans have accomplished this amazing feat of destruction is illustrated by data. Let’s take a look at mammals. Today, only 4 per cent. One of them is wild the animals, 36 percent of people and the remaining 60 percent. Mammals on land are farmed and domesticated animals. That’s a paltry 4 percent. They are fighting to survive. Forests can give wild animals a fresh start to escape extinction. The only question is whether we humans are going to give them space. I think the decisions made during COP26 give hope for that. Persians, tigers, elephants, rhinos and koalas have the right to expect elementary justice from us and limit greed in land grabs for humans only.

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Author: Kamil Wyszkowski, Representative and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network in Poland