A group comprising 15 major organizations working to advance the protection of forests has urged countries and other stakeholders to halt deforestation in order to confront the “quadruple planetary emergency” that the world faces today, which are climate change, nature degradation, social inequality, and global health crisis.
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a voluntary interagency partnership on forests formed in 2001, outlined the state of the world’s forests in a joint statement released during the 16th session of the UN Forum on Forests held at the UN headquarters. They added that efforts to stop the further degradation of forests continue to lag and need to speed up the process to meet the global sustainable development goals.
The statement, which aims to gain back the momentum for action on forests, highlighted the impacts of unsustainable forest management as well as the opportunities and actions that countries must do to turn the tide on deforestation.
Mette Løyche Wilkie, Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and Director, Forestry Division, FAO, said: “Forests are a source of sustainable livelihoods, prosperity, and resilience, and it is incumbent upon all of us in the forest sector to work together to halt deforestation and increase the world’s forest area.”
CPF highlighted in the statement that 11 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and other land-use activities and the degradation of forests continue unabated at alarming rates, particularly in Africa. Forest losses have been recorded to reach 420 million hectares since 1990 and each year 10 million hectares continue to disappear because of deforestation.
Working together to align the activities of organizations concerned about the conservation and sustainable production and trade of forest products, CPF also emphasized that action extends beyond the forest sector, that is the agriculture and food systems which is one of the major drivers of deforestation as many forests have been converted to agricultural land to feed the world’s food demand.
“Feeding a growing world population and halting or even reversing deforestation are not mutually exclusive. We can achieve both through a range of actions, including more balanced land-use planning, restoring the productivity of degraded agricultural lands, stepping up public and private sector commitments to zero deforestation, and reducing food loss and waste,” added Wilkie.
“To deliver on the Paris Agreement we must utilize the full potential of forests,” noted Susan Gardner, Director, Ecosystems Division at UN Environment Programme. “2021 can be the year to make peace with nature if we increase ambition and identify opportunities for quantum shifts in scale of funding and result,” she commented.
The CPF statement also pointed out the role of health forests in decreasing the risks of zoonotic diseases in the future, in light of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted forest resources.
CPF is a voluntary arrangement among relevant UN agencies such as the UN Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Development Programme, as well as the World Bank, and other international non-profit organizations.