Two-thirds of the land-based biodiversity and 80 percent of the tropical forests in the world are located in three tropical forest basins: Congo, Amazon and Asia-Pacific. These rainforest ecosystems also provide the livelihoods for more than a billion people, a press release from WWF said.
Last week, government officials and heads of state met for three days in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, for the Three Basins Summit to discuss collaboration on ending deforestation and protecting, restoring and sustainably managing these essential and irreplaceable ecosystems.
While the Three Basins nations agreed to cooperate on conservation, an official alliance was not formed, according to a press release from WWF.
“Tropical forests are rich in biodiversity and significant culturally and economically for people globally. But they continue to face threats from deforestation and forest degradation,” said Fran Price, WWF Global Forests Lead, in the press release. “The Three Basins Summit provided a good start on important discussions about the future of these forests and the solutions that are needed to address the challenges they face, but we are disappointed that it did not result in an Alliance of the three basins, as hoped.”
The summit, which concluded on Saturday, was hosted by the Republic of the Congo and was attended by NGOs, officials from the finance sector and technical experts, in addition to presidents and other government officials, reported Reuters.
“We’ve realised that joining forces is an absolute necessity, and we’ve recognised that the initiative to unite the three basins is part of an inevitable dynamic,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, environment minister for the Republic of the Congo, as Reuters reported.
Troves of plant and animal biodiversity and carbon sequestration, tropical forests are being destroyed at a rapid pace, releasing carbon dioxide and contributing to the climate crisis.
A report released last month by a group of environmental organizations showed deforestation worldwide increased four percent last year, moving further away from a commitment made to end forest loss and restore hundreds of millions of acres of degraded forest and terrestrial landscapes by 2030.
At the summit, policymakers and experts discussed their priorities, as well as possibilities for funding for the preservation of ecosystems in developing countries in the lead up to the UN COP28 climate talks next month in Dubai.
“We are encouraged by the commitments made at this summit. The governments of the three basins must now use this renewed momentum to foster concrete action to restore forests, bolster scientific and technical cooperation, stop and reverse biodiversity loss and adopt measures to address the climate crisis. These forests are essential for the livelihoods and cultural identity of tens of millions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The leadership of countries across the three basins will be key to ensuring we have a liveable planet for future generations,” said Dr. Martin Kabaluapa, WWF director for the Congo Basin, in the press release.
The Republic of the Congo signed a plan with the European Union for a partnership on forests with the goal of increasing the amount that is restored, protected or sustainably managed by 2030, which would reduce the rate of forest loss and create more jobs, reported Reuters.
Yustina Lina Dina Wambrauw, lecturer at State University of Papua, Indonesia, said collaboration with and input by Indigenous Peoples is essential to the preservation and maintenance of the region’s tropical forests.
“The protection of tropical rainforest ecosystems in the Three Basins will succeed if we include the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who live inside it as main actors. The forest is a sacred home for many Indigenous Peoples and local communities who have been managing it sustainably to live there for generations after generations. For Indigenous Peoples, the forest and the community are interconnected; therefore, the survival of our people is dependent on the longevity of the forest, the full cover of the rainforest canopy, and the availability of food and natural medicines that the forest provides,” Wambrauw said in the press release.
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This article by Cristen Hemingway Jaynes was first published by EcoWatch on 30 October 2023. Lead Image: An African forest elephant in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of the Congo. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images.