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160-million-dollar plan to save forests launched at Bali talks

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 11, 2007
Wealthy countries and a US green group donated 160 million dollars Tuesday for a new climate-change project aimed at encouraging poor developing nations to conserve their tropical forests.

The World Bank-led plan was launched in Bali amid negotiations over a new framework on climate change once Kyoto Protocol commitments to curb gas emissions end in 2012.

Emerging nations are demanding greater help to cut down on their own greenhouse-gas emissions as their economies catch up with the rich world.

"This initiative is a practical pilot to expand the tools for climate change negotiations," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

Around 1.2 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods and deforestation accounts for a fifth of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to figures cited by the Bank.

The Kyoto Protocol allows developed countries to meet their obligations by funding green projects in poor economies but in its present format does not offer specific help for reducing deforestation or forest degradation.

One of the issues on the table at Bali is how to provide such support in the post-2012 pact.

The new programme aims to assist 20 countries, among them some of the poorest in the world, with incentives to discourage illegal logging and forest clearance for agriculture.

Countries that complete a first step under the new Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) would then be eligible to a "carbon finance fund" under which they would be financially compensated for the carbon emissions saved by preserving their forests.

Germany, the outgoing president of the Group of Eight (G8) wealthy nations, is the top contributor to the fund, offering 59 million dollars of the 160 million dollars pledged by nine countries and a US group.

The other contributors are Britain (30 million dollars), the Netherlands (22 million), Australia and Japan (10 million dollars each), France and Switzerland (seven million dollars each) and Denmark and Finland (five million dollars each).

In addition, the Nature Conservancy, a US environmental group, has pledged five million.

"We must not lose another day when it comes to climate and forest protection," German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said in a statement. "Forest protection must be a central element in a future agreement on climate change."

The World Bank said that indigenous groups who live in tropical areas would be given observer status in the governance of the mechanism.

Deforestation is a factor in the global-warming equation partly because of the carbon gases released from trees that are burned after clearance. Water vapour and methane rise from cleared land that is given over to irrigated crops and cattle rearing.

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Niger's vanishing forests: last hope to keep desert at bay
Niamey (AFP) Dec 11, 2007
It is not yet daybreak when the trucks, the donkeys and the camels pour out of Niamey across the Kennedy bridge. Night has fallen when they return, loaded down with huge cargoes of wood from south western Niger's last forests.

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