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OECD warns Brazil on environment, economy risks
by Staff Writers
Brasília (AFP) Nov 4, 2015

Chinese forests at risk despite logging ban: activists
Beijing (AFP) Nov 4, 2015 - A third of China's forests are under threat despite the Communist Party announcing a ban on commercial logging in natural forest, activists said Wednesday.

Vast swathes of woodlands have been destroyed during China's decades-long economic boom, but environmental concerns are rising up the agenda and the measure was included in guidelines the ruling party issued for the country's next five-year plan.

Even so the pledge "does not mean the natural forest in the country is safe", Greenpeace said in a statement.

Current regulations allow some natural forests to be designated as "low quality", and therefore eligible for clearance before being replanted, it said.

There have been several cases of loggers exploiting the loophole to fell trees for profit, the organisation said previously.

"If the loophole is not fixed, 1/3 of China's natural forest will still face the risk of being cleared, even after the commercial logging being totally stopped by 2017."

The Communist Party document issued this week did not give a date for the prohibition, but state media have previously quoted senior forestry officials saying it would be introduced by 2017.

Brazil is destroying an area of rainforest the size of Israel every four years despite major conservation progress, the OECD economic grouping said Wednesday.

Biologically diverse Brazil will be a key player among the 195 countries at the UN climate conference in Paris in December, which will look to reach a global agreement on limiting climate change.

In its first environmental survey of the country, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that Brazil must take further action to clean up the environment even as its worsening economy is complicating those efforts.

The OECD report hailed "strong progress made in reducing deforestation and emissions of greenhouse gases over the past 15 years" in the Latin American powerhouse.

But it warned that the giant emerging economy, which is set to host the Olympic Games next year, was still the biggest destroyer of forests in the world -- some 480,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) in 2014 alone. That was down from around 2.7 million hectares in 2004 however.

"Brazil has made tremendous progress in terms of its environmental performance, but rigorous policy implementation remains critically important," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said in the organization's Environmental Performance Review of Brazil.

"Greening the economy can also bring huge social and economic opportunities, with green markets offering potential to boost GDP by up to seven percent."

The OECD warned in a separate report on Wednesday that Brazil's economy was in "a critical moment."

It forecast the country's economic output would shrink by 3.1 percent next year. That is a greater contraction than the latest forecast from the government, of 2.8 percent, or from the International Monetary Fund, of 3.0 percent.

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