Monday, 4 February 2008

Prince Charles's wish: to save rainforests

Prince Charles's wish: to save rainforests

By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 03/02/2008

The Prince of Wales wants his 60th birthday year to be remembered above all for tackling deforestation in the world's remaining rainforests, he has disclosed.
The heir to the throne is believed to have spelt out his desire during a private meeting with Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, at Clarence House on Thursday.

Prince Charles intends to lobby world leaders to halt deforestation
The Prince intends to spearhead a campaign to unite nations across the world in a determination to tackle deforestation, which is responsible for up to 25 per cent of global carbon emissions - second only to power emissions. He has told friends that he hopes to have made significant progress in his aim by November 14 this year - the date of his 60th birthday.

A series of events linked to the initiative will be announced over the next couple of months.Prince Charles intends to keep the celebrations for his birthday "low key" although his mother, the Queen, is to hold a dinner in his honour and his charities, led by the Prince's Trust, will also hold an event to highlight their achievements.

The Prince, himself, however, intends to lobby world leaders and try to halt, or significantly slow, deforestation, thereby making a huge impact in the fight against climate change, which he considers the "single biggest issue facing mankind" in the 21st century. He believes the rainforests are a "precious but rapidly dwindling resource".

As part of the Prince's Rainforests Project, he will lobby world leaders to try to "value" trees - making it more commercially sound for developing nations to preserve rainforests rather than to cut them down.

The Prince believes that: "Combating deforestation is likely to be one of the quickest and most cost effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions."

He thinks that developed nations, including Britain and the US, have an "ethical duty" to tackle the problem of climate change because they have contributed towards it.

The Prince also backed the World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) Amazon Initiative, which will work in the nine countries where the South American rainforest grows - Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, Surinam and French Guiana.
The charity will work to strengthen protected areas and develop new ways of valuing the forest for its climate role.

A report published in December warned that a vicious cycle of climate change and deforestation could wipe out or severely damage nearly 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest by 2030. The report was commissioned by the WWF and was launched at the UN climate change talks in Bali.
"The importance of the Amazon forest for the globe's climate cannot be underplayed," said Dan Nepstad, the report's author and the senior scientist at the Wood Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts.

The disappearing treasury of life
There are 3.5 billion acres of rainforest on the planet, only half the area at the beginning of the 20th century

About 30 million acres are lost each year – an area the size of Greece. At the current rate of deforestation, rainforests will vanish completely in little over 100 years

Africa and South America are seeing the biggest loss of rainforest. The prime causes are harvesting wood for fuel and the clearing of farmland

Seventy per cent of the world’s animals and plants live in forests and 50,000 plant, animal and insect species are lost every year through rainforest deforestation

Twenty-five per cent of pharmaceutical ingredients are derived from rainforest products

Contributions to rainforest loss include use of tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, sapele and meranti; and tropical fruit grown on plantations that had previously been forest