Deforestation

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A meeting of the Forest Connect alliance reaffirms that it is local forest people that are best placed to reduce deforestation all over the world — provided they are given the right incentives. That means clear commercial rights to the forest and support to develop profitable and sustainable forest businesses.

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The UN has declared 2011 as the international year of forests — although more than a billion forest-dependent poor will probably not see it that way. Spiralling global demand for food, energy, fibre and water spell trouble for these people’s forests.

Schemes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) may have been agreed at last month’s climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, but without locally controlled forestry this, in itself, will not stop the pressure on our forests. If you listen carefully you can still hear the forest clock ticking down…

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Strengthening local communities’ rights to and capacity for sustainable forest management is critical to making REDD work in developing countries.

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Dubbed “mother of the nation”, Dilma Rousseff was elected as Brazil’s first female president this month. But this has been an election of two women. Taking the reins at a time of increasing growth, prosperity, and public works expansion in Brazil, will one woman’s touch alone be enough to bring new ways of combating destruction of the Amazon?

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One interpretation of Lady Gaga’s recent outing in a dress made of raw meat is that it was a statement about our society’s ‘hypocritical attitude to meat’. Have some consumers become so distanced from the way in which their meat is produced that the sight of raw meat is so shocking? And is this willful ignorance representative of a wider refusal to accept the realities of how our consumption of meat impacts both the environment and wider society? If that is the case we ignore it at our own peril.

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Some might say that archaeology is all about potsherds and old bones. But digging into the past can be a way of uncovering patterns of human behaviour with real relevance for our own time. And recently a group of archaeologists did just that, by unearthing an earlier culture that is an uncomfortable echo of our own.

A study by this University of Cambridge group claims that the Nazca — a people famed for creating the gigantic ‘Nazca Lines’, patterns on a Peruvian desert that can only be seen from a plane — precipitated their own decline through excessive deforestation.

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Deforestation rates in Brazil nearly halved recently — the largest fall in two decades. Not bad for the country that, back in the 20th century, was so often portrayed in the media as losing a chunk of rainforest ‘the size of Wales’. That’s just one example of how the impacts of recession on the environment can tell us an awful lot about the way our economy works.

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Deforestation is a global issue. Beyond its destructive impacts on biodiversity and the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, it is a major driver of climate change and accounts for roughly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. REDD — 'reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation' — could offer a way forward, as IIED's growing body of REDD research and reports reflects.

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Under a bright blue sky, we spent the day perched on lecture hall benches in Poznan’s University. A one-day immersion on everything you need to know and more about forests and climate change.

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