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24 September 2009 - International expert calls on Australia to lead on climate and forests      

International expert calls on Australia to lead on climate and forests

Sydney, 24 September 2009                                                                                                                                                                         

World famous conservation biologist, Dr Thomas Lovejoy is in Australia to promote forest and biodiversity protection as a crucial climate change strategy.

Dr Lovejoy was the first person to coin the term ‘biodiversity’ which now has its own UN convention – the UN Convention for the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Dr Lovejoy is President of the H. John Heinz III Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington DC, past Chief Biodiversity Adviser to the President of the World Bank and the President of the United Nations Foundation.

“It is estimated that deforestation and forest degradation is responsible for as much as 25% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and therefore it is imperative that countries, developed and developing, do all that they can to stem this source of emissions”, said Dr Lovejoy.

Dr Lovejoy has identified three immediate opportunities for Australia to advance forest and biodiversity protection as a core climate mitigation strategy.

1) To lead on forest protection at the negotiations for a new international climate agreement to be agreed in Copenhagen. While also pushing full bore on energy transformation, developed countries like Australia must ensure carbon finance flows to developing countries to protect their forests.

2) To create incentives for the conservation of Australia’s native forests and woodlands in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Vegetation clearing is responsible for approximately 11% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. HSI has proposed landholders be able to voluntarily opt in to the CPRS to obtain credits for foregoing opportunities and rights to clear forests and woodlands on their land, in the same way that landholders can voluntarily opt into the CPRS if they are willing to plant new trees on their land.

3) To enact an immediate ban on the import of illegally sourced timbera key Rudd Government election commitment – with additional measures to prevent the importation of unsustainably logged timber. It has been estimated that 9% of timber imports to Australia are sourced from illegal logging operations and a much larger percentage again will be from unsustainable logging operations that are responsible for significant carbon emissions and biodiversity loss.

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