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Why we should care about tropical forests

Picture for Why should we care about deforestation

Poverty is widespread in forest areas

Deforestation affects the environment

Picture Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras / Fauna & Flora International / Comision Centroamericana de Ambiente y Dessarrollo phot archive. Legend: Forest loss typically increases total annual water flows, potentially exacerbating chronic (but not necessarily catastrophic) flooding.
The report deals with two central concerns of the World Bank: poverty and environment.
Poverty is widespread in and around forests
 Malagasy womenThe Bank’s core mission is poverty reduction.  This focuses attention on the 800 million people—many of whom are extremely poor— who live in or around tropical forests or woodlands. Access to trees and to forest land is critical to their surviva.

Amost 70 million people--many indigenous--live in remote areas of closed tropical forests. Another 735 million rural people live in or near tropical forests and savannahs, relying on them for much of their fuel, food, and income--or chopping them down for crops and pasture.

From a policy viewpoint, it is important to understand what distinguishes forest poverty from other rural poverty, and how it is related to deforestation. See poverty and deforestation.

Deforestation affects the environment
Harpy Eagle

The Bank is also deeply involved in protecting the global environment. Tropical deforestation is important to this concern because it contributes about 20 percent of annual global CO2 emissions, and therefore affects climate change.

Tropical forests are shrinking at 5% a decade, which amounts to an area the size of Portugal being deforested every year. By the middle of the 21st century, only shreds of a once-vast forest may be left.

Unless trends change, the consequences will be severe: 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere every year, intensifying climate change; loss of not just many species but also entire ecosystems. Across the tropics there will be widespread changes in water flows, scenery, microclimates, pests and pollinators.

These environmental damages would touch people near and far.

Picture Credit: Frans Lanting, Corbis, Juan Pablo Moreiras / Fauna & Flora International / Comision Centroamerican de Ambiente y Dessarrollo photo archive

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