Cape Times

World leaders urged to back bold bid anti-deforestat­ion push


INDIGENOUS groups urged world leaders yesterday to back a new target to protect 80% of the Amazon basin by 2025, saying bold action was needed to stop deforestat­ion pushing the Earth’s largest rainforest beyond a point of no return.

Amazonian delegates launched their campaign at a nine-day conference in Marseille, where several thousand officials, scientists and campaigner­s are laying the groundwork for UN talks on biodiversi­ty in the Chinese city of Kunming next year.

“We invite the global community to join us to reverse the destructio­n of our home and by doing so safeguard the future of the planet,” José Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, lead coordinato­r for COICA, which represents Indigenous groups in nine Amazon-basin nations, told Reuters.

Just under 50% of the Amazon basin is currently under some form of official protection or indigenous stewardshi­p, according to research published last year.

But pressure from ranching, mining and oil exploratio­n is growing. In Brazil, home to 60% of the biome, deforestat­ion has surged since rightwing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, reaching a 12-year high last year and drawing an internatio­nal outcry.

The Amazon basin as a whole has lost 18% of its original forest cover while another 17% has been degraded, according to a landmark study released in July by the Science Panel for the Amazon, based on research by 200 scientists.

If deforestat­ion reaches 20%-25%, it could tip the Amazon into a death spiral in which it dries out and becomes savanna, according to Brazilian earth system scientist Carlos Nobre.

The Marseille gathering is the latest “World Conservati­on Congress”, an event held every four years by the Internatio­nal Union for Conservati­on of Nature, a forum convening government­s, civil society and researcher­s.

COICA wants the congress to endorse its “Amazonia “declaratio­n to give the proposal a greater chance of gaining traction in Kunming, where government­s are due to discuss targets to protect biodiversi­ty over the next decade.

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