Forests are an important part of the global ecosystem. Due to factors such as population and agricultural expansion, deforestation and illegal timber trade, the current protection of forests faces a serious situation.
Many countries and international organizations actively participate in various projects, discuss and summarize their experiences, strengthen cooperation and jointly promote forest protection.
The theme of the recent International Day of Forests 2021, promoted by the United Nations, was “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. Portuguese UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said forests are vital for human well-being and the health of the planet, but the current rate of their disappearance is shocking. He therefore urged governments, organizations and individuals to take urgent action to restore and conserve forests in order to sow the seeds for a sustainable future.
Currently the status quo of global forest protection does not give cause for optimism. The annual loss of the world’s forests amounts to ten million hectares, the size of Iceland’s land surface. In his last Global Forest Resources Assessment, FAO has pointed out that a total of 420 million hectares of the world’s forests have been destroyed since 1990.
Forms of destruction include deforestation, destruction of forest land for agriculture or infrastructure development, etc. Data shows that population and agricultural expansion are still the main reasons for deforestation, forest degradation and loss of forest biodiversity. According to the report, 40% of tropical forests were cleared between 2000 and 2010 due to large-scale agricultural development and 33% due to local subsistence agriculture.
Smuggling of timber is also a major cause of forest degradation: in some countries, the destruction of 90% of tropical forests is linked to this illegal activity. In recent years, the extremely dry climate caused by climate change has led to frequent forest fires around the world and triggered a number of major indirect disasters.
In October 2021, the EU’s Joint Research Center reported that 2019 was the worst year for forest fires in the world: in Europe alone, more than 400,000 hectares of forests were destroyed and the area of Nature reserves affected by fires also reached a new high.
The survival of forests is closely linked to the sustainability of the earth’s ecology. Carbon emissions from forest reduction are estimated to account for 12-15% of global emissions. As the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and FAO have pointed out in its above-mentioned report, “the rate of deforestation and forest degradation is still alarming. This is one of the main reasons for the continued loss of biodiversity ”.
The report says that to reverse the dire situation of deforestation and biodiversity loss, countries need to make changes in food production and consumption, as well as protect and manage forests and trees as part of building construction. integrated landscape ecosystems, in order to repair the damage already done.
Some countries and regions, especially those with abundant forest resources (such as Brazil), are actively taking steps to strengthen forest protection and sustainable development and to achieve green economic transformation.
The Amazon is one of Brazil’s “visiting cards”. Its tropical forest has a total area of around 5.5 million square kilometers, of which over 60% is in Brazil, and the rest in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana (formerly British), Peru, Suriname (former Dutch Guyana) and Venezuela. The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most species-rich tropical forest in the world, accounting for 20% of the world’s forest area. It is called the lung of the earth and green heart.
The oxygen produced by photosynthesis represents one third of the world’s oxygen. The carbon dioxide absorbed each year represents a quarter of its total absorption by the soil. Therefore, the Amazon Basin has a significant impact on the global climate and ecological environment.
In an effort to protect the rainforest, the Brazilian government has adopted strong environmental protection legislation to increase penalties for deforestation. The government is implementing a common and centralized national policy for the management of tropical forests and logging rights and is developing sustainable logging. All logging operations in tropical forest areas must be authorized by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Information on tree felling, including tree species, height, collection center, etc., should be entered into the management system for future traceability. In addition, Brazil has also strengthened the monitoring of small-scale logging activities using high-definition satellite imagery, significantly improving the effectiveness of rainforest protection.
The Peruvian government, in turn, is working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the private sector and farming communities to take action to reduce deforestation, support sustainable rainforest development, and improve l ecology and living conditions of people living in tropical forest areas. .
More than a hundred private protected areas have currently been established across Peru to promote the development of sustainable agriculture, while supporting the biodiversity of the rainforest.
The government of Benin has recently updated its forest policies and regulations, is improving the forest tax system and vigorously developing forest resources. Benin has invested to achieve an annual increase of 15,000 hectares of planted forests and has increased its timber production to 250,000 cubic meters per year, thereby providing employment opportunities and increasing public revenues.
In Tanzania, the government has cooperated with relevant international organizations not only to formulate plans to protect the country’s forests and expand the size of forest reserves, but also to develop ecotourism projects to provide employment opportunities for people. communities around nature reserves.
The European Union has published a number of policy documents in recent years, thus closely integrating the protection of forests with policies to combat climate change and protect biodiversity. In 2003, the EU formulated a special action plan to combat illegal logging and trade.
In December 2019, he announced an action plan to promote the global protection and restoration of forests, and proposed priority directions for their protection, including new regulatory measures, enhanced international cooperation and support for innovation and looking.
In early 2020 the EU set up a common and centralized forest information system and plans to carry out future monitoring projects on nature and biodiversity, forests and climate change, forest health and ecological economics.
Thanks to a substantial reduction in deforestation, large-scale afforestation and the natural growth of forest land in some countries, the rate of deforestation has slowed considerably. Compared to the 16 million hectares of forest from 1990 to 2000, the global forest and the decrease in area from 2015 to 2020 have been reduced, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
With the aim of strengthening ecological protection, FAO and UNEP this year launched the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. Strengthening global cooperation and restoring degraded and damaged forests and other ecological resources have become a major focus of international relations.
FAO has stated that the objective of the Multilateral Treaty Aichi Biodiversity Targets (the Convention on Biological Diversity, entered into force December 29, 1993) was to protect at least 17% of the world’s land surface through the forest reserve system. This target was achieved in 2020, but all parties must redouble their efforts to ensure this protection.
The international community is also actively exploring cooperative projects to promote global management of forest resources among countries. FAO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, UNEP and other international agencies have collaborated in the development of the Amazon Integrated Protection Area project, which involves nine countries and regions.
The project promotes effective and coordinated monitoring of the Amazon reserve, and helps reduce the impact of climate change on this ecological area and improve residents’ resilience to environmental changes.
The African Union Development Agency (Auda-Nepad), the World Resources Institute, the World Bank and other institutions jointly launched the African Forest Landscape Restoration Plan, which aims to restore 100 million ‘hectares of forests in Africa by the end of 2030 in order to improve food security, strengthen countries’ adaptability to climate change and eradicate rural poverty: more than 20 African governments, as well as technical and financial partners, participate in the plan.
The lesson to be learned is that we must stop behaving like the Brazilian governments of years ago. Due to their lack of environmental awareness, since the 1970s, Brazilian governments have been destroying forests and reclaiming wastelands in the Amazon region, building road networks and vigorously developing agriculture and animal husbandry.
Illegal deforestation and forest fires, along with the construction of dams and the construction of mines, have caused unprecedented damage to Amazon forests and protected areas.
In recent years, the area of tropical rainforests has declined at an alarming rate. On average, a forest the size of a football field disappears there every eight seconds.
There is still a long way to go before forests and humans can coexist more harmoniously.