As the relationship between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change becomes increasingly apparent studies examining ways to mitigate these changes are also raising. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides a list on their website of area in which the organization is focused. The general goal of said mitigation efforts is to reduce the amount of GHG pollutants while also improving areas that act as sinks for these gases. The UNFCCC is concerned with enhancing policies regarding emissions of GHG in “developed country Parties.” This has led to an agreement by developed countries on goals for GHG emissions by the year 2020.
An important first step to effect mitigation is understanding where greenhouse gases are being produced. As the UNFCCC website explains, one source of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, is deforestation. The UNFCCC is taking action towards mitigating global deforestation as annually 13 million hectares forest are harvested. This deforestation produces 5.8 GtCO2/yr.
The main driver behind deforestation is the pursuit to convert more land into agricultural fields. This demand for land is one that will only increase as global populations are rise at record rates. Thus, the time to address the harmful practices of deforestation is now. The demand for wood and products produced from forests also serve as a catalyst for deforestation.
The UNFCCC currently has multiple approaches to mitigation deforestation. Developing countries Parties are currently meeting and discussing what the proper actions to be taken against deforestation are. At the forty-second meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), it was agreed upon to consider using practices such as joint mitigation when addressing deforestation. Another highlighted practice was the focus on sustainable forest management. The SBSTA then agreed to draft policies for the implementation of joint mitigation and forest management. These polices will be “considered and adopted” in their next meeting.
Sustainable forest management helps combat climate change. The presence of a healthy forest acts as a sink for carbon dioxide as the plant life consumes CO2 during photosynthesis. There are many methods used to sustainable maintain a forest. These practices include planting trees in areas which have been deforested, monitoring consumption of goods to prevent overuse, and removal of any invasive species. If a forest is being managed sustainably then the carbon footprint of the area will decrease as that also means that there is a lack of deforestation in the area.
The UNFCCC’s focus on the impact of deforestation is environmentally important for several reasons. First, as explained above, these practices are a large source for CO2 in the atmosphere, which means deforestation is a direct cause to the acceleration global climate change. Many studies have shown that deforestation has lasting negative effects on environments and ecosystems. These changing environments are particularly bad for animals such as large carnivores (Zemanova, et al. 2017). Humans, however, are not immune to these harmful impacts as deforestation increases soil erosion and flooding (N. Faiza, et al. 2017). Ask the city of Houston what impact flooding can have on a populated city. If global deforestation can be reduced, then so will the amount of GHG in the atmosphere. Stopping deforestation will improve areas that act as sinks for greenhouse gas emissions as well as reduce the amount of pollutants from one of the biggest global sources.
Forests take decades to develop, trees years to grow, yet only hours to flatten.
The following video addresses the issue of deforestation in Nepal. Relaxed polices combined with an increased demand for wood has led to an extreme rise in the rate of deforestation. This video is not mine and was published to YouTube.
This video shows the impact that floods can have inn Southeast Asia. At the end of August, starting August 29th, flooding from monsoons has left over 1,200 people dead and over 1 million displaced. This flooding impacted people throughout India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This video is not mine and was published to the Independent.