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World Leaders To Meet For 3 Tropical Rainforest Basins Summit 

By Ernest Sumelong with Bureau Report

Some 500 participants, including more than 20 Heads of State and Governments, are expected to meet in Brazzaville, Congo, for a summit of three tropical rainforest basins scheduled for May 29 to June 3.

The summit, to be held under the theme "Celebrating Forests for People", will be hosted by Congo’s President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso.  It is intended to foster South-South cooperation on the one hand and North-South on the other hand, for a sustainable management of forest ecosystems of the Amazon, Congo and Borneo Mekong (Southeast Asia) basins.  The summit will seek greater contribution to the regulation and stabilisation of global climate, the fight against poverty and economic development of countries concerned.

Stakeholders will share information on the current state of the three forest basins. It is hoped member states of the three forest basins will sign a cooperation treaty, thereby formally establishing a platform to concert and exchange ideas on forestry and climate.  It is also expected a joint statement on tropical forests, climate and sustainable development within the framework of negotiations of future climate agreement in Durban, South Africa and preparations for Rio +20, Brazil, will be adopted at the summit.

The three tropical forest basins constitute 80 percent of the world’s tropical moist forests. They are home to two-third of terrestrial biodiversity and provide livelihood to more than one billion people. According to a state of the three tropical forest basins report, prepared in view of the Brazzaville Summit, the three basins store 42 percent of the world carbon, thereby mitigating climate change.

The three rainforest basins formally employ around "2.3 million people in wood production, wood processing and pulp and paper industries," stated the report that was prepared by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, and the International Tropical Timber Organisation, ITTO.  Forestry activities, wood industries and the pulp and paper industry together contributed two percent to the GDP in all three rainforest basins combined.

Worrying Loss

In the Amazon, Congo Basin and Southeast Asia, some 5.4 million hectares of forests were lost yearly in the last decade (2000 to 2010) in the three basins. Though this figure pales against the annual average loss in the 1990s (7.1 million ha/year) the report states that the situation still remains alarming. Primary forest makes up 62 percent of the three forest basins, but 4 million hectares of this forest is decreasing every year, due to deforestation and other human activities.

The report revealed that the Amazon Basin "suffered the largest net loss of forests, about 3.6 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010, followed by Southeast Asia, which lost 1.0 million hectares annually." The Congo Basin also reported a "net loss of forests (about 700 000 ha per year) over the period 2000-2010," stated the report.

This loss is attributed to deforestation and natural disasters. Forests are cleared by people and the land converted to another use, such as agriculture or infrastructure. However, there are rays of hope as the area of planted forest increased by over half a million hectare per year during the period 2000-2010.

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