Global experts agreed on Thursday to say that the world does not need to "choose between forests or food" and advocated the restoration of tropical ecosystems, something "fundamental" to meet global climate goals.
At a conference call, climate specialists and indigenous peoples from Brazil, the United States, Germany and the Philippines explained that forests play an essential role both in "overcoming the climate crisis" and in improving food production.
According to experts, forests are responsible for the elimination of one third of carbon emissions into the atmosphere each year.
Likewise, its protection, restoration and expansion could increase the possibilities to meet the necessary emission reduction targets by up to 25% in the next decade so that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees.
In a study published in early July by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), researchers identified more than 100 million hectares of tropical rainforests that have "critical points" and could be restored.
"Thinking about the land has to be seen as one of the main solutions to address and curb climate change," the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, told the conference.
According to the report, Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar, India and Colombia accumulate the largest areas of forest stands with critical points.
A large part of these areas considered to be in critical condition are located in the Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world and which covers nine South American countries.
The scientist from the University of Sao Paulo, Carlos Nobre, said that the Amazon concentrates about 130,000 million tons of carbon and that 65% of the emissions it releases into the atmosphere are produced from deforestation and agriculture.
Therefore, he considered it essential to "reduce deforestation" and invest in less aggressive agriculture.
"We need politicians who have a much better and more in-depth vision about the real exploitation potential of the Amazon," said Nobre, one of the most critical voices against the environmental policies of the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
Experts also agreed that forests are responsible for cleaning air and water, cooling the surface of the land and providing rain for agriculture.
They also stressed that the maintenance and restoration of these ecosystems not only avoid the "extreme impacts" of climate change, such as floods or droughts, but are also beneficial "for the entire economy of the planet."
"But it is essential that there is a collective effort. Of course we need the involvement of governments, but also of the entire international community," said the German Charlotte Streck, founder of the Climate Focus group.
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