Crisis, speculation, poverty and climate change aggravate deforestation

, by Social Watch

New factors in deforestation like the world economic crisis, speculation in markets for basic products and arable land, and worsening poverty and climate change are aggravating the old causes of this phenomenon such as the advance of agricultural frontiers, tree cutting for timber and fuel, and the use of wood as a fuel. This problem is reported and documented in the Social Watch Report 2012.

In recent years rising energy prices have increased the use of wood and charcoal among the poorest population sectors, and this has put even more pressure on forest resources.

There is a vicious circle here. The disappearance of forests is reducing the planet’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity, and this is hampering attempts to mitigate climate change. This problem is getting worse due to a lack of laws to protect areas that are ecologically sensitive or to these laws not being enforced in countries that do have them.

In the Social Watch Report chapter on the European “indignados” movement, Mirjam van Reisen, Simon Stocker and Georgina Carr sound a warning that the European Union is dependent on imports of feed for livestock, and this has stimulated “a growing demand for land abroad”, which has caused deforestation and other environmental and social damage all over the world.

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