Thursday, November 19, 2020

Felling the Forests

 Megaprojects risk pushing the world’s remaining forests past a “dangerous tipping point” and making climate targets unachievable, a report say. Tens of thousands of miles of roads and railways are planned alongside mines and dams, opening up the forests of South America, south-east Asia and central Africa to destruction, according to the report by a coalition of 25 research and conservation organisations. Today, almost half of all large mines – more than 1,500 – are in forests.

In 2014, 50 countries and 50 of the world’s biggest companies backed the declaration, pledging to cut deforestation by 50% by 2020 and end the destruction of forests by 2030. But the 2020 goal has been missed and deforestation is rising.

Robert Nasi, the head of the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor), one of the NYDF assessment partners, said: “We are living in a dream world of pledges but a reality of little progress, lack of transparency, vested interests and short termism..."

Five Amazon countries are investing $27bn (£20bn) over the next five years to build or upgrade more than 7,500 miles (12,000km) of roads, the report says, which would lead to deforestation of about 2.4m hectares. In Indonesia, the 2,500-mile Trans-Papua highway will cut through Lorentz National Park, increasing access to more than 50,000 hectares of mining concessions inside the park, while a railway planned for Kalimantan would open areas for coalmining and palm oil production. In Papua New Guinea, two plans would double the length of the country’s road network by late 2022, the report says. In sub-Saharan Africa dozens of international development corridors to export minerals and energy would cut across 400 protected areas and degrade an additional 1,800.

Anthony Bebbington, a mining and expert and report author, explained “Their purpose is to make it easier and cheaper to extract natural capital in ways that benefit economic elites above all.”

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