Cutting down trees leads to more carbon in the atmosphere – and it’s happening at an alarming rate. In 2017 alone, tropical forests lost 39 million acres – that’s larger than the state of Georgia.
Seymour: “If tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank third after China and the United States as a source of emissions.”
Frances Seymour of the World Resources Institute says deforestation is not only a climate issue. Forests are important sources of food, fuel, and medicine for people around the world.
Seymour: “They’re also a source of cultural identity and livelihood for the indigenous peoples who inhabit those forests, and it turns out, are the best stewards of those forests. I mean, you can look at the maps and see that where there are tropical forests remaining, you know, there’s a good chance that indigenous peoples are present there.”
Seymour says when countries give indigenous people more control over land, deforestation slows.
A study in the Peruvian Amazon found that granting forest property rights to indigenous communities reduced tree clearing by more than three-quarters.
So Seymour says protecting indigenous land rights and tropical forests go hand in hand.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.