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Mar 172010

From Green Right Now Reports

A new study involving scientists from 13 organizations, universities and research institutions concludes that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change.

The study, “Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change,” was published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation.

The report cites analyses showing that since 2002, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been 7 to 11 times lower inside of indigenous lands and other protected areas than elsewhere. The authors say simulation models suggest that protected areas established between 2003 and 2007 could prevent an estimated area of 100,000 square miles of deforestation through 2050. That would roughly the size of the state of Colorado and represent enough carbon to equal a third of the world’s annual CO2 emissions.

“Deforestation leads to about 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes on earth. If we fail to reduce it, we’ll fail to stabilize our climate,” Taylor Ricketts, director of World Wildlife Fund’s science program and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Our paper emphasizes that creating and strengthening indigenous lands and other protected areas can offer an effective means to cut emissions while garnering numerous additional benefits for local people and wildlife.”

The study “reinforces the wisdom behind global investments in protected areas,” says Gustavo A.B. da Fonseca, co-author of the study and Team Leader Natural Resources of the Global Environment Facility. “In addition to protecting globally important species and ecosystems, the 2,302 protected areas supported by the GEF alone span over 634 million hectares and together store an impressive 30 billion tons of CO2″

In addition, the study estimates that the cost of creating and better managing protected areas is lower than many other options to reduce emissions from deforestation.

This map shows carbon stocks and potential emissions of selected forest protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon.

This map shows carbon stocks and potential emissions of selected forest protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon. (Image: World Wildlife Fund)