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Up to 60 pct of Amazon at risk from climate change: WWF

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 6, 2007
Deforestation and climate change could wipe out or damage up to 60 percent of the vital Amazon forest by 2030, causing knock on effects across the globe, green group WWF warned Thursday.

One the world's key absorbers of carbon dioxide (CO2), the Amazon is under threat from droughts as the world heats up, they said, while deforestation could cause severe damage to the area known as the "lungs of the planet".

"The importance of the Amazon forest for the globe's climate cannot be underplayed," Dan Nepstad, author of a new WWF report containing the warning, said in a statement.

"It's not only essential for cooling the world's temperature but also such a large source of fresh water that it may be enough to influence some of the great ocean currents, and on top of that it's a massive store of carbon."

The WWF report, released at a key UN climate change meeting in Indonesia's Bali, found that by 2030 Amazon deforestation could cause 55.5 billion to 96.9 billion tons of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

This would contribute to global warming, which is caused when greenhouse gasses such as CO2 trap heat from the Sun, causing the Earth's surface to warm and inflict damage to the climate system.

Destruction of the Amazon could cause knock-on effects as far away as India and the United States, which would see less rainfall and have their crop growth curtailed, the global conservation group said.

Fires to clear land for cattle ranching were a key culprit in spoiling forests, WWF activists said, while the expansion of agriculture for soy bean crops was also an emerging threat.

Nepstad called on the rich world to do everything they could to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases, which in turn could save the Amazon.

World leaders are currently in Bali to hammer out a timeframe for a new deal on tackling climate change when the current phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. Battling deforestation is a key theme at the summit.

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The Lost Forests Of Afghanistan
Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Dec 06, 2007
This month, Assoc. Prof. Gary Bull from UBC's Faculty of Forestry is spending time in Kabul training an Afghan field crew. He is joining forces with the New-York based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project. Bull and UBC Forestry PhD student KiJoo Han are leading an effort to help protect and restore Afghanistan's remaining forest in the north east province of Nuristan.

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