Deforestation Converting forests for agriculture & tree farms Headwaters Redwood Forest, California Headwaters Forest -- 200,000 fragmented acres Forest Background The area of the world's forests, including natural forests and plantations, was about 3.5 billion ha in 1995 Source: UNITED NATIONS STATE OF THE FORESTS REPORT (SOFO - 1997) This is 26.6 percent of the total land area of the world except for Greenland and the Antarctic. Forests in Decline Between 1970 and 1995 the world’s natural forest cover declined: about 10 per cent • as wood and paper consumption increased by two-thirds at a rate averaging 0.5 per cent per year • equivalent to an annual loss of forest the size of England and Wales. Habitat Shrinkage and fragmentation play a key role . . . “interior” forest characteristics . . . reducing upon which many species depend Deforestation Rates Worldwide, deforestation is continuing at a rapid rate, and in the developing world, it is most rapid, at an estimated annual rate of 0.65 percent Deforestation is most rapid in the tropical zone of the developing world, with the highest annual rate of loss over this period in tropical Asia-Oceania (0.98 percent annually) Globally, 11.3 million hectares (ha) of the world's forests are lost each year Deforestation rates may be slowing slightly in the developing world Natural Forests in Developing Countries: 1990-1995 1980-1990 decreased 13.7 decreased 15.5 million ha annually million ha annually “Frontier Forests” Study by the World Resources Institute Studied the world’s “Frontier forests” -- the original, natural forests present 8,000 years ago before agricultures dispersed widely Findings of Frontier Forests Study “Almost half of Earth’s original forest cover is gone Much of it was destroyed within the last three decades” Only 1/5 of this remaining, original forest is relatively undisturbed The remaining, original forests . . . Almost 70% of the remaining, original forest is in Russia, Canada and Brazil. Most of this is in the inhospitable northern boreal forests of Russia and Canada More Findings of the Frontier Forests Study . . . Outside of the remote northern forests, about 75 percent of the remaining frontier forests are threatened Including the least accessible original forests, 39% of the total faces immediate threats by logging, agricultural clearing, and other human activity Oceana: Australia, NewZealand, Papua New Guinea PNG: Forest type: Tropical Threats: Logging and oil pipeline development. (A large oilfield has been discovered about 180 miles inland.) At risk: A vast tract of relatively undisturbed tropical forest of exceptionally high species richness. Homelands for several groups of indigenous people. Logging Continues to Shrink Forests With the world's forests continuing to shrink, after holding 10 meetings on five continents since 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, comprised of more than 70 governments, ended two years of talks in February 1999 . . . . Without agreeing to any binding curbs on logging The United States helped block any agreement, fearing slower economic growth. It not just government inaction that leads activists to frustration and rage ... It is that the government directly supports deforestation U.S. Citizens subsidize the destruction of their own forests U.S. Forest Service lost $1 billion between 1995 and 1997 by subsidizing the timber industry. • According to the U.S. Government’s General Accounting Office. You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for You get what you pay for And a U.S.Agriculture Office Inspector General report released in January 1999 acknowledged widespread corruption in its timber program, finding: * The “integrity of environmental decisions was not maintained” U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Office of Inspector General Evaluation Report No. 08801-10-AT January 1999, “Forest Service Timber Sale Environmental Analysis Requirements.” Moreover: * “environmental assessments” were inadequate; and * “findings of no significant impact” were false. This report and hundreds of lawsuits documents that federal resource agencies routinely disobey environmental laws and their statutory obligations to enforce them. Ecological Apocalypse? Yes -- but this begs the question of our class: What is our responsibility in this kind of world? Do we have any duties to this world?
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