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Study highlights forest protected areas as a critical strategy for slowing climate change
Date:3/16/2010

WASHINGTON, DC, March 16, 2010 A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change. The study, "Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change," was published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation (nicknamed REDD).

"Deforestation leads to about 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes on earth. If we fail to reduce it, we'll fail to stabilize our climate," said Taylor Ricketts, director of World Wildlife Fund's science program and lead author of the study. "Our paper emphasizes that creating and strengthening indigenous lands and other protected areas can offer an effective means to cut emissions while garnering numerous additional benefits for local people and wildlife."

The authors highlight analyses showing that since 2002, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been 7 to 11 times lower inside of indigenous lands and other protected areas than elsewhere. Simulation models suggest that protected areas established between 2003 and 2007 could prevent an estimated area of 100,000 square miles of deforestation through 2050. That is roughly the size of the state of Colorado, representing enough carbon to equal 1/3 of the world's annual CO2 emissions. Within these efforts, location matters; protected areas in regions that face deforestation pressures would be most effective at truly reducing emissions.

"This study reinforces the wisdom behind global investments in protected areas," says Gustavo A.B. da Fonseca, co-author of the study and Team Leader Natural Resources of the Global Env
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Contact: Monica Echeverria
monica.echeverria@wwfus.org
202-495-4626
World Wildlife Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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