The Social Dimensions of REDD in Latin America
Chapter 1: Forests, Conservation and Climate Change in Latin America
CLIMATE AND FORESTS Forests play multiple roles in helping to maintain life on Earth. Apart from supplying vital ecosystem services nationally and globally, forests also support the livelihoods of millions throughout the developing world. At the same time, forest-dwellers are themselves instrumental in protecting and nurturing the habitats in which they live. The importance of forests has for decades been emphasised by specialists, from biologists and foresters to the proponents of community development and sustainable forest management. Yet their importance has been further underlined by the recognition of their contribution to climate regulation in the wider debate on global warming. In this context Latin America, and the Amazon Basin in particular, the world’s largest remaining area of tropical rainforest, take on a critical function. It is now widely accepted in scientific circles that human activity contributes significantly to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that, due to an increase in the production of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide over the past two centuries, ‘Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the midtwentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations … (and) … For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2ºC per decade is projected’, while a temperature rise of 2–3ºC over the next half century is anticipated (IPCC, 2007: 10–12). Furthermore, global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas, rose from a pre-industrial level of around 280 parts per...
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