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2010 was a landmark year for forests. Glenn Hurowitz, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, blogging for Grist.org, listed the five forest stories of the year: a drop in global deforestation rates, a win for opponents of irresponsible palm oil investments, Canada moving to protect a large swath of boreal forest, the first government-backed forest carbon market established in California, and progress on REDD+ in Cancun. (Make that six: The EU decision to ban the import and trade of illegally harvested wood was also significant news in July.)
A video from the Carnegie Institution of Science introduces a major caveat in this rosy landscape. Besides head-sprinning high resolution mapping of tropical forests, the 12-mn video posted last week on Youtube includes this warning: “Climate change is also underway in tropical regions. For example, the ongoing 2010 drought in six Amazonian countries may be pushing tropical forests to an ecological tipping point requiring species to adapt, move or die.”
PROFOR recently interviewed Walter Vergara, editor of an Assessment of the Risk of Amazon Dieback and leader of the Global Team of Experts on climate change adaptation at the World Bank on this very subject. The e-version of his book is worth reading too.
Before we delve into the science, first a definition: