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New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk

Arlington, Virginia In an ironic twist, 11 countries that have avoided widespread destruction of their tropical forest are at risk of being left out of an emerging carbon market intended to promote rainforest conservation to combat climate change.

A study published Tuesday in the Public Library of Science Biology journal warns that the high forest cover with low rates of deforestation (HFLD) nations could become the most vulnerable targets for deforestation if the Kyoto Protocol and upcoming negotiations on carbon trading fail to include intact standing forest.

The study by scientists from Conservation International (CI), the South African National Biodiversity Institute, and the University of California-Santa Barbara calls for the HFLD countries to receive preventive credits under any carbon trading mechanism to provide incentive for them to protect their intact tropical forest. Otherwise, the same market and economic forces that cause deforestation elsewhere will quickly descend on regions that so far have avoided significant loss, the authors say.

Cutting and burning tropical forests releases the atmospheric carbon they store, contributing significantly to global climate change. The HFLD countries contain 20 percent of Earths remaining tropical forest, including some of the richest ecosystems.

"Given the very large and likely still underestimated role of tropical deforestation in causing climate change, these forest-rich countries should be at the forefront of worldwide efforts to sequester carbon, rather than being left out entirely, said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier, an author of the study. With this paper, we hope to highlight this critical issue and put it on the table for future negotiations."

Until now, the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent discussions have focused on carbon credits for new or replanted forests that replace the carbon storage services of destroyed forests. New rules being discussed
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Contact: Tom Cohen
tcohen@conservation.org
703-341-2729
Conservation International
13-Aug-2007


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