What is a forest? There is no simple answer to this question. But the question is crucially important to an understanding of the current crisis. In order to answer it, we need first to answer two other questions. When does a group of trees make a forest? And how do we define a tree? The FAO provides the answer to both of Brazil and Indonesia, in others, especially in Europe, areas of woodland are increasing as a result of people moving away from the countryside, and China is witnessing the same phenomenon thanks to a massive tree?planting program. The diversity of the situations is equaled only by that of the these questions. According to its defini?tion, a forest is a surface area of over 1.2 acres (0.5 hectares) composed of adja?cent trees at least 16 feet (5 meters) tall when fully grown and whose foliage covers at least 10% of the ground surface. This definition gives us a starting point at least, although environmental organizations argue that it fails to distin?guish between plantations and primary forests, and between forests that are in BETWEEN 1990 AND 2005, THE PLANET LOST 3% OF ITS FOREST COVER, WHICH CORRESPONDS TO 50,000 ACRES A DAY forests themselves. The first important distinction relates to primary forests, which are free of any evident impact by man and occupy only a third of the planetís total forest cover, and secondary forests, which have been modified by human interference and are often less species?rich as a consequence. Forests are also classified in terms of ecosystems. A third of the worldís forest is taiga or boreal forest, associated with cold cli? good health and those that have suffered significant damage. Depending on the definitions, the total forested area of the planetís surface varies between 5.7 billion and 15 billion acres. Using the FAOís definition gives us a total of a little less than 10 billion acres, the equivalent of 30% of the Earthís land mass. Between 1990 and 2005, the planet lost 3% of its forest cover, which corresponds to 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) a day. While forests are dwindling fast in certain countries such as mates and extending from Alaska to Quebec, and from Scandinavia to Siberia. This type of forest is dominated by conifers (larch, pine, fir, spruce). Moist tropical forests occupy 6% of the planetary land mass and are associated with hot climates; they are the most productive and species?rich of our forests, home to two thirds or three quarters of all terrestrial species. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Saint?Hyacinthe forest in MontÈrÈgie, Quebec, Canada (45?37íNñ75?57íW) Bathed by the waters of the Saint Lawrence River to the north and bounded to the south by the border with the USA, MontÈrÈgie has suffered extensive deforestation. Forest now covers only a third of its surface area. This is mixed woodland with a predominance of broad?leaved trees typical of temperate regions (red maple, sugar maple, poplar, birch, ash, oak, lime, hickory) interspersed with boreal conifers. Wood is a renewable material and a renewable source of energy provided that consumption does not exceed the forestsí capaci?ties for self?regeneration. It is a resource that has been used since the dawn of mankind, but its use has risen sharply, with human beings now extracting 120 billion cubic feet (3.4 billion established in 1993 and promotes a system of forest manage?ment certification. This means that the consumer who purchases products bearing the FSC label knows that they have come from forests which have been responsibly managed in social, environ?mental, and economic terms. The chain of accountability stops cubic meters) of wood from the worldís forests each year. A little more than half of all wood harvested serves as fuel, whether for heating or cooking purposes. In Africa, for example, wood and charcoal are by far the most important forms of energy consumed (a usage that corre?sponds to 89% of the wood harvested). Wood is thus at the global level our princi?pal source of renewable energy. But it is developed countries that use the most IT IS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES THAT USE THE MOST WOOD, IN THE FORM OF BUILDING AND FURNITURE MATERIALS AND PAPER with the user himselfóa system that has proved pretty effective in this case. To date, more than 250 million acres (100 million hectares) of forest in seventy?nine countries have been certified, and annual sales of FSC?certified products amount to some 20 billion dollars. But this is actually less than a tenth of the global market, and a smaller share of the total than the traffic in illegally cut tropical woods, which prob?ably account for half the market. wood, in the form of building and furniture materials and paper. Sustainable forest management is not a new idea. At a time when naval ships were still being built of wood, the state kept a watchful eye on the forests destined to furnish the material for their construction. With our consumption of forest resources constantly increasing, however, we need to develop new approaches to sustainable use. The best example of such an approach is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which was We could make more use of some of our secondary forests, such as those in western Europe, especially since burning them does not increase the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the wood could be used to advantage in place of other materialsóplastic and concrete, for example. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Port?Gentil wood depot, OgoouÈ?Maritime province, Gabon (0?43íSñ8?47íE) These logs will be taken by road and rail, and then via the OgoouÈ River, to the coast, where they will be loaded onto ships bound for China and Europe. Gabon is the main exporter of gaboon (Aucoumea klaineana), a forest species used in the manufacture of plywood. Forests can be ìcultivatedî just like crops. The process is known as silviculture. More and more trees are being planted across the globe, and the area covered by such plantations is increasing by 6.9 million acres (2.8 million hectares) a year. These plantationsówhich are mainly to be found in China, These vast monoculture plantations are generally designed to meet the needs of the highly polluting and energy?hungry paper industry. Our global consumption of paper and cardboard has quadrupled in the space of forty years and now stands at a millionmetric tonsadayóanincrease that is clearlyproblematic. Russia, and the USAóonly represent 5% of the planetís total forest cover, but they supply 35% of all wood harvested. Plantations of fast?growing trees, all of similar age and all belonging to the same species, do not make a forest, however. They do not sustain the same level of biodiversity or ensure the same level of soil protection as a natural forest. Such plantations are also vulnerable to fire and storm damage, and they are less PLANTATIONS OF FAST? GROWING TREES, ALL OF SIMILAR AGE AND ALL BELONGING TO THE SAME SPECIES, DO NOT MAKE A FOREST In 2005, each inhabitant of the USA used 655 lb (297 kilograms) of paper. The figure for China was 98 lb (44.5 kilograms), and for India 10 lb (4.5 kilograms), while in Somalia it was only 1 ounce (30 grams). The global average was 120 lb (54.5 kilo?grams), which makes the discrepancy even more telling. Not all paper industries use wood as their raw material. In China, the worldís second?largest paper manufacturer, 45% resistant to epidemics. Species poorly adapted to the environ?ment may leach water from the soilóas the eucalyptus doesóand others, like the pine, may alter the pH of the soil, making it unduly acidic. In addition, some systems of silviculture use chemical fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides; others use trees that have been genetically modified. of the paper is made from agricultural waste products and 40% from recycled paper. But only a reduction in the consumption of paper (wrapping paper, printed materials, office paper, newspa?pers, etc.) by the worldís major consumers, linked with higher levels of recycling, will enable us to extricate ourselves from the current impasse. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Lone tree in a eucalyptus plantation, Indonesia (1?54íSñ112?29íE) In 1950, Indonesiaís primary forests covered an area of almost 400 million acres (160 million hectares); today, the figure is only 120 million acres (48 million hectares). More and more of the natural forest is being replaced by eucalyptus plantations, and more recently oil palms. Thanks to a law passed in 1992, a 60?mile (100?kilometer) radius of forest around a paper factory may be subjected to clearcutting to make way for fast?growing trees. Between 1990 and 2005, the planet lost 3% of its total forest cover, a net loss of 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest a year, or 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) a dayóa loss that is all the more considerable because it takes into account the positive role played by plantations and natural regeneration. In fact, 32 deforestation, such as the absence of regulation and controls, the high demand of developed countries for forest or agricultural resources, and also the poverty of developing countries. The consequences of the disappearance of trees are multiple. Forest soils become fragile and impoverished, especially in a million acres (13 million hectares) are deforested each year, an area equivalent to the surface area of Nicaragua or Greece. Between 2000 and 2005, fifty?seven countries recorded an increase of wooded areas, and eighty?three a decrease. Since 2000 the pace of defor?estation has been accelerating in Southeast Asia, while the biggest reduc?tion of forest was recorded in Africa, where 9% has been lost in fifteen years. SINCE 2000 THE PACE OF DEFORESTATION HAS BEEN ACCELERATING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, WHILE THE BIGGEST REDUCTION OF FOREST WAS RECORDED IN AFRICA tropical environment, and after a few years they may turn out to be agricultur?ally unproductive. The regeneration of the forest cover is then, at worst, compro?mised or, at best, will only occur over decades. Thewatercycle is also disturbed. In deforested regions, rivers experience more dramatic fluctuations in their water levels. Populations face catastrophic flooding and also episodes of more marked drought. Often, the absence of It is difficult to determine the primary cause of global defor?estation: whether non?sustainable exploitation of wood resources or forest clearance for the benefit of animal rearing and agriculture. These two causes can be closely linked. Forests are also cleared in order to make way for mining activities and to build towns, roads, and dams. There are also indirect causes for trees triggers various phenomena associated with erosion, the most spectacular being landslides. But, without doubt, the most alarming factor is the loss of biodiversity. Tropical forests are home to more than half of all terrestrial species. And it is esti?mated that one in ten plants contains an active substance potentially useful to medicine. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en New plantation of oil palms near Pundu, Borneo, Indonesia (1?59íSñ113?06íE) Between 2000 and 2005, Indonesia lost 4.7 million acres (1.9 million hectares) of forest a year. Once the ground has been cleared, it is terraced and covered with young oil palms (we can see their green shoots in the photograph), which start producing fruit after three years. If the current rate of deforestation continues, Borneoís old forests will all have disappeared fifteen years from now. Deforestation and poverty are part of a vicious circle, each feeding into the other. In Haiti, for example, the destruction ofthe forests has put a strain on the countryís water supplies and agri?cultural productivity, aggravating the problems of malnutrition and extreme poverty as well as those relating to health and infant inequalities: on the one hand, there are a handful of wealthy land owners, farming and rearing livestock with an eye to the export market; on the other, there are the millions of small family?run farms and landless workers. And these inequalities are mirrored in the process of deforestation. mortality. But we need to beware of this kind of simplification. The link between poverty and deforestation is an ambiguous one. Across the globe, there are some 800 million people living within or on the edge of an area of tropical forest which sup?plies part of their food and energy needs, and is also therefore a source of income. In very many countries, the poor may be cutting down trees, but the most serious THERE ARE SOME 800 MILLION PEOPLE LIVING WITHIN OR ON THE EDGE OF AN AREA OF TROPICAL FOREST WHICH SUPPLIES PART OF THEIR FOOD AND ENERGY NEEDS In Indonesia, the government has granted a number of huge concessions: while the big companies and their employ?ees see their revenues increasing, part of the local population has no access at all to the forest and its resources and is sinking further into poverty. To many people, deforestation seems inevitable, and the linkbetweenindustrialadvances inEurope and the destruction of all its primary forests offers an unfortunate precedent. damage is done by the extractive industries and the major com?panies associated with forestry or agriculture, acting in response to demands from wealthy countries. This is the case in the Brazilian rainforest, where 80% of the deforested areas are in parcels of 50 acres (20 hectares) or more ódeforestation on a scale well beyond the means of poor farming families. Brazilian society is characterized by extreme Development policies can play a part in the phenomenon of deforestation. Whereas projects forconstructing roadsand dams have frequently contributed to the destruction of forests, policies aimed at reducing levels of poverty, which prioritize health, edu?cation, and the environment, could slow down the process. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Cargo of charcoal, Haiti (18?35íNñ72?00íW) Haitiís primary forests have been extensively felled for charcoal and to make way for agricultural land, and less than 3% remains. Half the arable lands have been lost through soil erosion. Deforestation has reduced the water vapor in the atmosphere above Haiti, and in many places annual pre?cipitation is down to 40% of what it was, thus reducing the flow of rivers and opportunities for irrigation. Healthy forests are indispensable to a healthy planet. Forests regulate the water cycle and protect the soil. By absorbing and trapping large quantities of carbon dioxide and recycling the oxygen in the atmosphere, they contribute to climate balance. They offer a habitat for flora and fauna and supply wood, food, Across the globe, 84% of all forests are the property of individual states or public organizations, and 16% are in private ownership. Governments shoulder a huge responsibility in the matter, there?fore. But the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest and the forests of the Congo Basin and South and Southeast Asiaó and medicinal products for human use. Attempts have been made to evaluate these ìenvironmental servicesî in eco?nomic terms, not in order to exploit or profit from them, but to ensure that our economic activities do not destroy these natural and free infrastructures. Accord?ing to Pavan Sukhdev, an Indian economist and principal author of a study on the economics of natural ecosystems and biodiversity, each year THE TOTAL AREA OF FOREST MANAGED BY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES DOUBLED BETWEEN 1985 AND 2000 people who live off the forests, and in close association with them, and who can play a vital role in safeguarding themó have had their right to own, or even use, the land repeatedly ignored. The situation is changing gradually and more and more indigenous communi?ties are gaining the right to their lands, often with the help of non?governmental organizations. The population of the Amazon rainforest has increased from 5 the destruction of forest ecosystems alone and the loss of their services to humanity would cost 6% of global Gross National Product (GNP), which is equivalent to 2 trillion euros or 2 trillion US dollars. All these environmental services are compelling reasons to protect our forests, but to whom should we entrust the task? This question is inextricably linked with the question of ownership. million to 33 million inhabitants in forty years. And yet, despite demographic and economic pressures, the total area of forest managed by indigenous communitiesówhich doubled between 1985 and 2000ónow represents 22% of the forests in develop?ing countries. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Djidji Falls, Ivindo National Park, OgoouÈ?Ivindo province, Gabon (0?01íNñ12?27íE) Gabon is one of the most heavily forested countries in the world: 85% of its surface area is forest. In 2002, the Gabonese government decided to create thirteen national parks, occupying 11% of its surface area. In addition to conserving biodiversity, the purpose of these parks is to promote the development of nature tourismóand, thereby, increase revenue for the population. The Earthís forests help to maintain our atmosphere. Firstly, because they recycle much of the oxygen that we breathe (the phytoplankton in the oceans does the same) as a result of photo?synthesis. Secondly, because they absorb large quantities of water (several hundred liters per day in the case of a tropical Each year, the worldís forests continue to stockpile more carbon than they release. The surplus is still in the region of 0.7 billion tons a year. But the role they play as a carbon sink is increasingly endangered. So, what are we to do? The logical solu?tion is to leave this carbon store well alone and to suspend the tree), which they release into the atmos?phere through a process known as transpiration, and in so doing contribute to the humidity in the air and to precipita?tion. And, finally, because they trap significant quantities of CO2, which is transformed into organic matter such as starch in plants and lignin in trees by means of photosynthesis. What is the scale of this phenome?non? Forest ecosystems store more than FOREST ECOSYSTEMS STORE MORE THAN HALF THE CARBON ACCUMULATED BY TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS destruction of primary forests across the globe. The international community is currently discussing the possibility of introducing a compensation mechanism for countries that avoid destroying their forests and maintain them in good condi?tion. Such a system would be difficult to put in place, but the World Bank, with the support of the United Nations, has already set up a fund that prefigures a system for financing avoidance of deforestation. The half the carbon accumulated by terrestrial ecosystems; the figure for 2005 was 638 billion tons, according to the FAO, which is more than all the carbon in the atmosphere. But this stockpile is declining. This is logical since the surface area of our forests is dwindling as a result of deforestationóitself a potent source of CO2 emissions. aim is also to show the communities that live in or near forested areas that the use of renewable sources such as fruit, nuts, and essential oils can be financially more rewarding than cutting down trees or converting forests into fields and grazing lands. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en The Orinoco near La Esmeralda, Amazonas, Venezuela (3?10íNñ65?33íW) The absence of proper means of communication has helped to preserve the Amazon rainforest from excessive human interference. Lying near the Equator, the forest is a product of heavy rainfallóbut also a source of it, since rain clouds form from water vapor tran?spired by the vegetation. If all the moist tropical forest of the Amazon basin were to disappear, rainfall in the region would be halved. We have tended in the past to regard mangrove swamps as being of little use to humans. They occupy muddy coastlines in tropical regions, tend to be infested with mosquitoes, and are easily flooded by the sea or inland waters. But the mangrove swamp is a transitional ecosystem, as productive as it is biologically rich. It is been subjected more recently to vast clearance schemes linked to the development of shrimp farming in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Extension of agricultural land, harbor installa?tions and seaside developments, and the general urbanization of coastlines are also causes of decline. composed of one or several species of mangrove, a tree that has aerial stilt?like roots which support the main trunk like flying buttresses, and is home to a large number of fish, mollusks, and crus?taceans, which begin life in these mangrove nurseries before rejoining the open sea. By trapping the sediments carried by the rivers and the tides, man?grove swamps also protect tropical coastlines from erosion and the assaults Experts have succeeded in establish?ing figures relating to the economic and social value of mangrove swamps. A hectare of mangrove swamp in the Gulf of California, for example, would generate some 37,500 US dollars a year, principally in the form of fish and crabs, commercial species whose life cycle is linked to the presence of the mangroves. Mangrove swamps would also help to limit the more dramatic effects of climate change and BETWEEN 1980 AND 2005, ACCORDING TO THE FAO, 20% OF MANGROVE SWAMPS WERE DESTROYED of storms, cyclones, and tsunamis, while ensuring that the waters remain clean enough to sustain their coral reefs. Humid zones and mangrove swamps are the two environ?ments that suffered the worst damage during the course of the 20th century. Between 1980 and 2005, according to the FAO, 20% of mangrove swamps were destroyed, and they now occupy a surface area of no more than 37.6 million acres (15.2 million hectares). Traditionally exploited for wood, these forests have rising sea levels, while acting as effective carbon sinks. Awareness of the environmental and also economic and social value of these forests has undoubtedly helped to slow the pace of destruction in a number of countries. In Bangladesh, the surface area of mangrove swamps is even increasing. But this is still the exception. State of the Worldís Forests 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), www.fao.org/forestry/home/en Koh Pannyi, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (8?20íNñ98?30íE) Thailand is the worldís number one producer of farmed shrimp, and the area occupied by its mangrove swamps has shrunk from 690,000 acres (280,000 hectares) in 1980 to its current level of 600,000 acres (244,000 hectares). When the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, the low?lying shores of the Andaman Sea whose mangrove swamps were still intact suffered less damage than those areas that had been robbed of their protective belt. Why preserve forests and plant trees? FORESTS Carbon storage and oxygenóCO2 cycling Prevent desertification Preserve habitats and ensure ecosystem services SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT Sunlight This prevents the loss of Many animal fertile topsoil and helps Water species and human retain moisture. Which countries have the greatest area of What are some of the threats to forests? CO communities 2 Oxygen sustainably managed forest? Tree roots hold soil depend on together and prevent forests for Carbon Countries with the highest % of FSC-certified forests (2005) Legal and illegal logging ï Conflicts ï Natural hazards ï Climate Water erosion. survival. 0% 100% change ï Pollution ï Conversion to agricultural land ï Urban Liechtenstein 7,000 hectares total forest area (17,297 acres) development ï Fire ï Diseases and insects Other services: Food ï Heating ï Air purification ï Recreation ï Spirituality ï Protection of watersheds ï Conservation of gene-pools ï Plant pollination Croatia 2,135 ha (5,276 acres) Poland 9,192 ha (22,714 acres) Ireland 669 ha (1,653 acres) Latvia 2,941 (7,267 acres) UK 2,846 ha (7,033 acres) Lithuania 2,099 ha (5,187 acres) Estonia 2,284 ha (5,644 acres) Countries with the most forest area (2005) Million hectares % FSC of forest accredited Russian Federation 809 0.6 Brazil 478 0.7 Canada 310 2.5 USA 303 2.5 China 197 0.2 Australia 164 0.3 Source: UNEP GEO Data Portal, compiled from FSC How are forests managed sustainably? Some basic principles of FSC sustainable forestry certification: Comply with all international laws. Respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Respect workersí rights and support local communities. Share benefits from use of the forest. Reduce the environmental impact of logging, and maintain the ecological functions of the forest. Regularly assess the condition of the forest and impacts of environmental and social management plans. Wood cannot be a renewable resource unless forests are managed sustainably. Look for an eco-label on products to make sure you are purchasing wood and paper products from sustainably managed forests. The Forest Stewardship Council is a major accredited certification body. Produced by UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe, Feb. 2009 How has global forest cover changed over time? Current forest cover (2000) Forest is defined as having greater than 30% tree cover, except for sparse trees and parklands, where forest cover must be between 10 and 30%. Original forest cover Estimated forest cover between the end of the last glacial period and the rise of humans (about 10,000 years ago). 30% of land on earth is covered by forest Source: UNEP GEO Data Portal, compiled from UNEPñWCMC Sooner or later, societies disappear and are replaced by new ones. As our own society enters a critical phase, what lessons can be learned from those that preceded us? One example that has been extensively studied is Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. The island was once home to a flourishing civilization, which land Vikings, who could not adapt to the cooler climate. While these societies did not vanish because of environmental damage alone, it certainly weakened their economic and social structures and created vicious cycles that ultimately proved fatal. The same pattern could easly be applied to modern society. reached its peak in around 1500, but it subsequently experienced a rapid decline, losing four fifths of its population in just one century. According to the American expert Jared Diamond, the explanation lies principally in the fact that the people deforested their entire land. Without trees, they were no longer able to build fishing boats, and crucially the soil was eroded. As the situation worsened, the people began fighting ARNOLD TOYNBEE WROTE THAT ìCIVILIZATIONS DIE FROM SUICIDE, NOT BY MURDERî In Diamondís analysis, the factors leading to a societyís collapse seem to be quite clearly set out every time. But for political, religious, or social reasons, the society is incapable of reacting and taking adequate measures to ensure its survival. What would the Easter Islander who cut down the last tree have been thinking? Another expert in the history of civiliza?tions, the British historian Arnold Toynbee, wrote that ìcivilizations die from among themselves, and developed bizarre religious practices. In an effort to erect increasingly gigantic statues, they cut down more and more trees, accelerating their demise. Diamond also studied a number of other civilizations that vanished largely as a result of environmental factors, such as the Maya and Babylonians, who exhausted their land, and the Green?suicide, not by murderîóin other words, from their inability to resolve their internal crises. Today most people agree that we are facing an environmental catastrophe. We need to change the course in which our society is heading, and remove the obstacles to that change. It is too late to bury our heads in the sand. It is also too late to be pessimistic. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, London and New York, 2005 Volcano of Rano Kau, Easter Island, Chile (27?11íSñ109?26íW) It is hard to believe that this island of 66 square miles (171 square kilometers) located in the middle of the Pacific was once covered by a forest of giant palms. Colonized by Polynesians some time between the 5th and 6th centuries, the island was progressively deforested. Once set in motion, erosion stripped the surface layers of the soil creating ravines several meters in depth and revealing the volcanic substratum. The world is divided: by religion, by the gap between rich and poor, by nationalism and prejudice, and by humanityís desire for land and natural resources belonging to othersÖ Sometimes these conflicts lead to violence, but they donít always end in war. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the term ìglobaliza?Wetlands of 1971 (for the protection of migratory birds), the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution of 1972, and the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973. One of the most recent and influential was the United Nations tionî has increasingly been used to describe the interdependent relation?ships between nations, economic activities, political systems, and individu?als on a worldwide scale. However, while international exchanges are developing in all directionsógoods, labor, knowl?edge?sharing, and cultureónot everyone is benefiting from globalization. Nonetheless, the idea that the future of humanity and our environment is a col?Conference on Environment and Develop?ment of 1992, which culminated in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Even though the Earth only has one atmosphere, not everyone agrees on the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Often the compromises required are at the cost of efficiency. The commitments made at Kyoto, which are rarely enforceable, are not being met: global emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, have risen by THE IDEA THAT THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND OUR ENVIRONMENT IS A COLLECTIVE GLOBAL CONCERN IS GAINING MOMENTUM lective global concern is gaining momentum. And this is supported by the number of important international conventions on the environment which have been held in recent times, includ?ing the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Ramsar Convention on 16% since 1990 and continue to increase. The first set of targets for the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 and the international negotiations to replace them have already begun. It is a painstak?ing yet essential process. United Nations Environment Program, www.unep.org Israeli West Bank barrier, Israel and Palestinian Territories (31?50íNñ35?14íE) In 2002 Israel decided to build a wall along the ìGreen Lineî which used to demarcate the border between Israel and its neighbors before the Six?Day War of 1967. Although the wall has become part of the landscape and daily lives of the West Bank inhabitants, it has failed to resolve security issues, and the forty?year?old battle over the territories continues to rage on. In 2004 the International Court of Justice in the Hague declared the wall to be illegal and called for it to be knocked down. There are almost 200 million global migrants, representing Immigration can play an important demographic role for roughly 3% of the worldís population. The figure was only 75 countries whose history is linked to the phenomenon, such as the million forty years ago. Their personal backgrounds and motiva?USA, or for nations whose birth rate is in decline. But it can also tions vary, but the majority of migrants are looking for a better upset the social equilibrium: in times of social and political quality of life. They hope to escape poverty, find education, or live tension, it can give rise to xenophobia. Emigration can also dis?in different types of societies. However mantle a countryís social structure by harsh their living conditions may be, they depriving it of its most skilled workers, of are still better off than those of the THE WEST HAS A ROLE entrepreneurs, or simply of an entire gen? worldís 33 million displaced persons or refugees, who have been forced to leave TO PLAY THROUGH eration of families, as in the case of the North Africans who sought work in their homes or countries. INTERNATIONAL Europe in the 1960s, or the people of the Humans have migrated throughout COOPERATION AND AID Philippines who are leaving to find jobs in history, but today it is occurring on other areas of South Asia. unprecedented levels, and it is on the POLICIES, FOR EXAMPLE The obvious solution is for countries to increase. Climate change will cause share the burden of migration. The West flooding in certain areas and droughts in has a role to play through international others. Living conditions everywhere will change, and some cooperation and aid policies, for example. But faced with the studies have predicted that this will create 250 million refugees inevitable rise of human migration, we must also remember that over the coming decades. Economic instability in less developed it encourages diversity, openness, and cultural richness, and countries and the rapid urbanization of the planet is set to dis?helps to create a more unified world. place hundreds of millions of people. The UN Refugee Agency, www.unhcr.org Sudanese refugee camps at Goz Amer near the Sudanese border, Chad (12?00íNñ21?23íE) Sudan, an African giant with no fewer than nine borders, has experienced only eleven years of peace since it gained its independence in 1956. The origins of the civil war lie in the conflict between the dominant north, which is Arab and Muslim, and the black African south, with a Christian and animist majority. Since 2003 the war has intensified and changed in the region of Darfur, pitting Muslims of Arab origin against Muslims of black origin. Consumption is also a political and social act. Sometimes banned. For a company to receive Fairtrade certification it must public awareness is all that is needed to create change. The meet International Labour Organization standards and report boycott of British textiles spearheaded by Gandhi in the 1920s, transparently on its workforce, manufacturing processes, prices, that of bus companies practicing racial segregation in the USA in and profit margins. 1955, and more recently the Greenpeace protest campaign In spite of this, a substantial portion of the cost mark?up is against Shellís plans to sink a North Sea not passed on to the producers them? FAIRTRADE IS RAISING oil platform are proof of the power con?selves; and the higher price of fairtrade sumers wield. Over the last few decades, CONSUMER AWARENESS OF products places them in a niche market. a similar approach has been used by the One could go so far as to say that fairtrade THE INJUSTICE OF THE fairtrade movement. is not fair in the sense that the social Fairtrade is a trading partnership that CURRENT TRADE SYSTEM welfare systems and salaries of the pro?seeks greater equity in international ducers are substantially inferior to those AND ENCOURAGING COMPANIES trade. Its umbrella organization, Fairtrade of the consumers. Furthermore, fairtrade Labelling Organizations International TO IMPROVE THEIR does not always respect the environment. (FLO), unites a group of labeling initia?Fairtrade is therefore by no means a ETHICAL STANDARDS tives, the best?known of which is Max perfect way of bringing about change. Havelaar. They operate by paying producers fixed minimum Today it represents only a tiny fraction of world trade (less than prices which usually exceed the market equivalent, permitting 1%). But although it has limitations, it is raising consumer aware?workers a decent standard of living without being subject to ness of the injustice of the current trade system and encouraging market fluctuations. This trading system also guarantees decent companies to improve their ethical standards. You can vote with working conditions: forced labor and child exploitation are your credit card just as effectively as in the ballot box. Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, www.fairtrade.net Tea plantation, Kericho region, Kenya (0?20íSñ35?15íE) Global production of tea reached 3.6 million metric tons in 2006, a world record. Kenya produced 328,000 tons, which is less than China (1.05 million tons) and India (945,000 tons); however, unlike these two countries, Kenya consumes only 5% of the tea it produces and exports the rest. Almost half of the human population is under the age of We are only just beginning to address these questions. twenty?five, the largest generation the world has ever known. It is Although the younger generation may aspire to bring about also the best educated: the figure for primary school attendance radical change, this is mitigated by their need to fit into an exist?has now reached 88%. Despite this, 73 million children do not ing social structure. Even in democratic societies, young people have a basic education and 158 million children under fifteen must have reached the legal voting age to express their opinions have to work, often in the worst condi?tions. This generation also has the ALMOST HALF OF THE HUMAN on civil issues. This means that in coun?tries with a particularly young population, longest life expectancy, 67 on average, POPULATION IS UNDER THE the electorate may be at odds with a sub? although that figure varies widely from country to country. However, the falling AGE OF TWENTY?FIVEÖ IT IS stantial portion of the people. The younger generations are often dis? birth rate also means that these young ALSO THE BEST EDUCATED: affected and their future appears people will grow in an ageing society. THE FIGURE FOR PRIMARY uncertain. At the 1992 Earth Summit in The demographic group aged Rio de Janeiro, a 12?year?old adolescent, between fifteen and twenty?four is 1.2 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE HAS Severn Suzuki, spoke for the first time: billion strong, and is already shouldering NOW REACHED 88% ìIím only a child yet I know we are all in its share of the burden: 200 million live this together and should act as one single on less than 1 US dollar per day, 130 million are illiterate, 88 world towards one single goal. Ö Parents should be able to million are unemployed, and 10 million are HIV positive. How will comfort their children by saying ëEverythingís going to be all they face up to adulthood in a changing world? What does the rightí, ëItís not the end of the worldí, and ëWeíre doing the best we future hold in store for them on a planet whose limited resources caní. But I donít think you can say that to us anymore. Are we have been all but exhausted by humanity? even on your list of priorities?î The United Nations Childrenís Fund (UNICEF), www.unicef.org Children playing in a school yard in Hlatikulu, Shiselweni region, Swaziland (26?58íSñ31?19íE) Official statistics report that 80% of children in Swaziland attend school, but many children are forced to interrupt their education either temporarily or permanently due to poverty. At least 70% of the countryís 1.1million inhabitants live below the poverty line and almost 35% of adultsóthe highest number on Earthóare HIV positive. Poor school attendance seems to be rising with the pandemic. In the course of the 20th century, the womenís movement made a number of extraordinary advances: women won the right to vote, gained access to birth control and abortion, rose to high?ranking jobs and even to top political positions. However, only a small minority of women enjoyed these new benefits. And while the birth of a girl simply represents another mouth to feed and, above all, a dowry to find. Female illiteracy is at 600 million, as opposed to 320 million among men. Women who do have a basic education can achieve a greater level of autonomy enabling them to question the deci? the laws may have changed, common practice has not. In the new millennium, womenís rights vary greatly depending on their country, social rank, and religion. In certain places women are practically invisible in public, or are obliged to wear veils. Eighty?two million young women are married before they reach the age of eighteen. Many girls are still not edu?cated, and are consigned instead to SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT MEN AND WOMEN SOLVE PROBLEMS IN DIFFERENT BUT COMPLEMENTARY WAYS sions imposed on them by their family or social structure. There is a clear correla?tion between increasing school attendance for girls and lowering birth rates. For millennia, our political, social, and economic history has largely been written by men. How might it have been different had both sexes worked together with complete equality? Sociological research has shown that men and women solve household chores or even collecting water. Female circumcision is still unacceptably common. The infanticide of baby girls epitomizes the lack of status women have in many cultures. In India and China, female fetuses are aborted or the newborns left to die or even killed, because problems in different but complementary ways, and that sexual equality benefits both parts of this alliance. The environmental crisis calls for a change in the way society has historically tackled issues,including the full recognition of the role womenplay inthe decision?making process. Millennium goals www.un.org/millenniumgoals Cotton harvest near Banfora, Burkina Faso (10?48íNñ3?56íW) Burkina Faso has the largest cotton industry in Africa, employing three million people of which two million are producers. The sector accounts for 25% of the countryís GDP and 60% of exports, which make it vulnerable to fluctuations in the global markets. After having rejected GM cotton for years, the government officially authorized its growth in 2008, arguing that this would guarantee regular production. Will we ever be able to eradicate war altogether? In modern times, wars continue to rage: since the end of the Second World War there have been over 130 more wars or violent conflicts across 80 different countries. If anything has changed at all, it is in the technology of war which is becoming more advanced. US dollars in 2007, an average of $200 per person per year. Not only do wars utilize and waste enormous natural and eco?nomic resources, but they undermine the trust required to foster cooperation and solidarity among countries. Following the Second World War and the disbanding of the During the 20th century the First World War claimed tens of millions of lives. The death toll for the Second World War rose to 60 million. The power strug?gles culminated in the nuclear arms race: today more than 10,000 nuclear war?heads are on standby to annihilate the entire planet. Paradoxically, it is the 639 small arms currently in circulation that are causing the most fatalities. Civilians have become the principal victims of con? SINCE THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR THERE HAVE BEEN OVER 130 MORE WARS OR VIOLENT CONFLICTS ACROSS 80 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES League of Nations (the first international peace?keeping organization), the United Nations was set up to safeguard world security. Its jurisdiction is limited. Some of its resolutions have led to military inter?vention, for example in Korea in 1950 and in Iraq in 1991. But the UN has also been criticized for taking sides, and many of its actions have not been effective, such as those taken with regard to the Israeli?Palestinian conflict which has been raging flict, both duringand after combat. Civilian lossesduring the First World War represented roughly 10% of total deaths, but this figure rose steadily over the course of the century to reach 90% in the Cambodian, Rwandan, and Lebanese conflicts. Even away from the battlefield, war is causing damage. Mili?tary spending is constantly on the increase, reaching 1,339 billion for over half a century. However, opponents of the organization have not come up with a better alternative, and in spite of its shortcomings, the UN continues to assist victims and act as a peace?keeping force in many of the worldís warring regions. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, www.sipri.org B?52s at Davis?Monthan air force base near Tucson, Arizona, USA (32?10íNñ110?52íW) Several hundred American B?52 Stratofortress bombers are being kept for spare parts at the Davis?Monthan air force base in the heart of the Arizona desert. Used intensively as a conventional bomber during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, the B?52 was orig?inally designed (in 1952) to carry nuclear weapons. The wave of support that came in the wake of the Asian Tsunami Wildlife Fund (WWF) has 4.7 million. There is such a wide range of of December 2004 revealed, once again, humansí capacity for NGOs nowadays that there is a cause to suit every interest. generosity. A total of 7 billion US dollars was raised, financing the NGOs are increasingly large, numerous, and well?organized, largest humanitarian operation in history. Hundreds of organiza?and are playing a growing role in politics. They also participate in tions distributed aid money which had come from all four corners the drawing up of international legal conventions: as in the case of the globe. of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conven? The first international relief agency, tions of 1949 and 1972, Amnesty the International Committee of the Red ACCORDING TO THE UNITED International and the Convention Against Cross (ICRC), was founded in 1863. The Torture, and Survival International who NATIONS, THERE ARE 6,000 Red Cross provides assistance to victims work for the rights of tribal peoples. and prisoners of war, and is underpinned INTERNATIONAL NGOS Working alongside nations, sometimes by a statute drawn up by the Geneva Con?in areas that have been overlooked for AND FIVE MILLION vention. The majority of organizations lack of money or other resources, NGOs are non?governmental (NGO) and are not NGOS WORLDWIDE propose alternative organizational just active in emergency situations: they models and advocate other values over operate in a variety of fields including the power and profit. By doing this they offer environment, reconstruction projects, education, development everyone the opportunity to help effect social change and make aid, and human rights. According to the United Nations, there are an impact on their town, region, or the world, something that can 6,000 international NGOs and five million NGOs worldwide, give them a sense of pride and satisfaction. some of which receive extensive international support: Amnesty International counts 2.2 million members, while the World Union of International Associations (UIA), www.uia.be Aviation Without Borders mission, Senegal (12?29íNñ16?33íW) The isolated region of Casamance in southwest Senegal has few medical facilities. The area is patrolled by ambulance planes operated by the NGO Aviation Without Borders, which helps evacuate patients to the local hospital in Tambacounda, or in more serious cases to Dakar. Sometimes, one personís courage can make all the difference and a few seconds can save a life. A quick reaction or a carefully chosen word can deflect a crisis. When a group of brave individu?als who share the same goals and ideals form a movement, they concern the stateóbut to enable people to start all over again and to build a new society. Bloody reprisals between black and white were largely avoided. Not giving in to hatred was an impor?tant lesson in courage. Today, as we face a global environmental crisis, we all need can change the world. Nelson Mandela did not bring down apartheid single?handedly. But he set an example to several generations of politi?cal activists. Incarcerated for twenty?seven years, eighteen of them on Robben Island, he was able to give hope to those who were fighting for their rights, who were being tortured, and who were becoming disheartened by the diffi?culties they faced. The victory against apartheid is one of the finest examples of WHEN A GROUP OF BRAVE INDIVIDUALS WHO SHARE THE SAME GOALS AND IDEALS FORM A MOVEMENT, THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD courage more than ever: the courage to think differently, to reject certain things in favor of fewer material possessions, the courage to come together with others, the courage to admit when we are wrong, the courage to reject injustice around the world, and the courage to stand up against ideologies which put us on a colli?sion course with disaster. The coming years will be crucial for humanity. We have reached a pivotal point how people can join forces to overturn an unjust system. After the fall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu set up a new legal system based on ìTruth and Reconciliation,î which tried to find out the truth for the victims and their families and to identify those who were guilty. The object was not to forgiveóa personal affair which does not at which society can veer in one way or another, and we can all influence the future outcome. This is both disturbing and excit?ing. Those who have already seized fate in their own hands are aware of the difficulties, but this makes us stronger. In this battle, which must be won without hatred or rancor, everyone has a role to play. Nobel Prize, http://nobelprize.org Portrait of Nelson Mandela on a cooling tower at Orlando Power Station, Soweto, South Africa (26?15íSñ27?56íE) Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942 at the age of twenty?four, and soon played a crucial role in the party. He was arrested for the first time in 1956, and again in 1962, and was subsequently sen?tenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 and in 1993 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994 Mandela became the first black president of the Republic of South Africa to be elected after the fall of apartheid. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL TREATIES ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE Climate Change Hazardous Substances Basel Convention (1989) Regulates the movement and disposal of hazardous wastes, such as e-waste. Rotterdam Convention (1998) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1992) Regulates the import and export of hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides. Encourages all countries to reduce GHG emissions to combat global warming. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001) Reduces and eliminates the release of dangerous chemical pollutants that remain in the Kyoto Protocol (1997) environment for long periods of time. Requires industrialized countries to reduce GHG emissions. Ecosystems Management Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1971) Promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (1973) Regulates trade in endangered plants and animals. Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979) Preserves migratory species and their habitats. UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (1992) Preserves biodiversity by promoting conservation methods. UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) (1994) Slows the process of desertification by making changes at the community level. World Heritage Convention (WHC) (1972) Identifies and protects sites of great natural and cultural value. 190 Sources: (above) United Nations University, 1992. Environmental Change and International Law; (opposite) UNEP GEO Data Portal, compiled from secretariats of the respective conventions. Produced by UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe, Feb. 2009 Ratified (as of 2007) Not ratified Ramsar WHC CITES Bonn Montreal Basel UNFCCC CBD UNCCD Kyoto Rotterdam Stockholm Afgha nista n Alba nia A lg e ria A ng o la A rg e ntina Arme nia Austra lia A ustria Azerbaijan Bahrain Ba ngla desh Be lg ium Be nin Bhuta n Bolivia Botswa na Bra zil Bulga ria C a mbodia C a meroon C anada C ha d C hile C hina C olombia C ongo C ote díIvoire C roa tia C uba Czech Republic North Korea De nma rk Djibouti Dominic a Dominican Republic Ec ua dor Eg y pt El Sa lva dor Equatorial Guinea Eritre a Esto nia Ethiopia Fiji Finla nd Franc e G a bon G a mbia G eorgia G ermany G ha na G reec e G renada G uatemala G uinea G uya na Ha iti Hunga ry Ic ela nd India Indone sia Ira n Ira q Ire la nd Isra el Ita ly Ramsar WHC CITES Bonn Montreal Basel UNFCCC CBD UNCCD Kyoto Rotterdam Stockholm Japan Jorda n Ke nya Kuwa it La os Leba non Liby a Luxe m bourg Malaysia Ma li Mexic o Moldova Mong olia Moroc c o Moza mbique Nepa l Netherla nds New Zealand Nic aragua Nig e r Norwa y Oma n Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Pe ru Philippine s Pola nd Portuga l Qatar South Korea Roma nia Russia Rwa nda Saudi Arabia Senega l Se rbia Singa pore Slove nia Soma lia South Afric a Spa in Sri Lanka Suda n Surina me Swaziland Sweden Switzerla nd Sy ria Ta jik ista n Tha ila nd Tunisia Turke y Uga nda Ukra ine UA E UK Ta nza nia USA Uzbekista n V enezuela V ie tna m Yemen Za mbia Zimba bwe The UNEP GEO Data Portal: Much of the information presented on the poster pages is accessible and can be seen and studied at UNEPís online GEO Data Portal (http://geodata.grid.unep.ch). The GEO Data Portal is the authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments. Its online database holds more than 450 different variables, as national, subregional, regional, and global statistics, or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health, and GDP. This data can be consulted in real time through maps, graphics, and images, or downloaded in different formats. Disclaimer: Although every effort has been made to ensure that the content of this book is factually correct and accurately attributed, UNEP takes no responsibility for the accuracy and exhaustivity of the content and cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage created directly or indirectly by the use of the content of this book or by the attribution of this material. On the cover: Pascal LESOING for YDEOóIllustration: CALOU Design: Bruno Morini / Ami?Images Photographs: All photographs are by Yann Arthus?Bertrand with the exception of p. 61 M DorothÈe Martin and p. 119 M Charles Pottier Picture research: Isabelle Bruneau All photographs by Yann Arthus?Bertrand are distributed by the agency Altitude, Paris, France Maps and graphics: Graph design: Eric Le Miere Graph design for pages 26, 50, 72, 94, 114, 132, 152, 170 and 190: Stefan Schwarzer, UNEP owns the rights but makes these freely available Translated from the French by Ruth Sharman and Luisa Nitrato?Izzo Copyright M 2009 Jditions De La MartiniLre, an imprint of the La MartiniLre Groupe, Paris English translation copyright M 2009 Abrams, New York Film Home directed by Yann Arthus?Bertrand M 2009 Elzevir FilmsóEuropaCorp Published in 2009 by Abrams, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non?profit?making purposes without special authorization from the copyright holders providing that the source is mentioned. UNEP would like to receive a copy of any publication that uses this content as a source. Cataloging?in?Publication Data has been applied for and may be obtained from the Library of Congress ISBN 978?0?8109?8434?9 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed and bound in U.S.A. Abrams books are available at special discounts when purchased in quantity for premiums and promotions as well as fundraising or educational use. Special editions can also be created to specification. For details, contact specialmarkets.hnabooks.com or the address below.

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PHILIPPINES, Cagayan : photo aérienne d’un village isolé au milieu de champs de riz et de maîs inondés dans la province de Cagayan le 5 octobre 2009, deux jours après le passage du typhon Parma sur le nord des Philippines © AFP PHOTO/Mike F. Alquinto

Scientists, environmentalists and social activists presented a study on the structural and managerial flaws of San Roque dam, that caused the severe flooding in several areas in Northern Luzon. The groups also accounted for the country’s continuing disasters and the Arroyo government’s failure to provide a comprehensive, effective and adequate disaster response and prevention plan in a press conference today.

AGHAM ” Advocates of science and technology for the people”

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