As reported on The Earth Times previously, Congo is currently hosting a 'Summit of the tropical forest basins of the world'. This summit aims to establish a formal agreement between the three tropical forest basins of the Congo, Amazon and Borneo-Mekong. The aim is to encourage the governments of these three regions to share conservation strategies and protect these areas, home to around two thirds of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity.
WWF stated today that "leaders of the world's key tropical forest countries must make brave choices...and show commitment to save their forests and support the fight against devastating consequences of climate change". 30 representatives from countries making up the three tropical forest basins are attending the summit to develop sustainable management solutions for these vital regions.
Forests are key habitats for many reasons. When forests are destroyed they release large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The huge swathes of trees in the three tropical forest basins play a vital role in regulating global climate. Forests also provide food, medicine, shelter and livelihood for around 1 billion people. These 'ecosystem services' should not be underestimated.
In addition, the economic value of forests is huge. Total global trade in forest products has been valued at approximately US$379 billion annually. WWF maintains that the true value of "standing" forests is far greater than the economic benefit of the alternative land use, either logging or destruction for agriculture. Cooperation between governments can protect rainforests by expanding protected areas, exchanging information and experience, unifying social and economic policies, and coordinating conservation measures.
Natasha Kofoworola Quist, WWF representative, said "Representing their countries and their peoples, leaders at the Brazzaville summit carry a heavy responsibility on their shoulders. They must work closely together so that they and the world can continue to benefit from these unique rainforests."