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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2009
12:33 PM

CONTACT: Global Forest Coalition

Gemma Tillack: The Wilderness Society and youth caucus +61 427 057 643
Claire Spoors: Global Witness +49 1763 546 3586
Joao Talocchi: Greenpeace Brazil  +55 11 8351 0169

UN URGENT: End Deforestation, Conserve World's Forests

Countdown for Survival: Global groups make an urgent call to end deforestation and conserve the world's forests during UN Climate Talks

WASHINGTON - June 8 -  A coalition of youth, environmental groups, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples organizations and women's groups delivered a plea to negotiators asking them to ensure a strong climate deal and warning them that they will put our survival at risk if they do not act immediately to halt deforestation and the industrial logging of the world's primary forests (forest degradation). [Signatories and statement below in NOTE 1]

"Survival is not negotiable. The climate deal signed in Copenhagen needs to ensure the survival of all countries and people. The immediate protection of the world's forests is no longer just an option, it is essential to ensure a safe climate for us and our kids," stated youth spokesperson Gemma Tillack.

The coalitions' plea asks delegates to ensure that any climate deal:

--Immediately ends deforestation, industrial scale logging in primary
forests and the conversion of forests to monoculture tree crops, plantations; 
--Protects the world's biodiverse forests including primary forests in
developed countries (e.g. Australia, Canada and Russia) and tropical forests in developing countries;
--Respects the rights of women, Indigenous peoples and local communities and allow them to lead healthy and sustainable lives whilst stopping deforestation and industrial logging of primary forests in their country; and
--Does not allow developed countries to use forest protection and the avoiding deforestation and industrial scale logging of primary forests in other countries as an offset mechanism for their own emissions.


"The forest is our life, without the forests we would not exist. Avoiding deforestation and stopping industrial logging will allow Indigenous peoples to live and will secure our future," said Adolphine Muley, of the Union pour l'Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

"We need to ensure that climate change mitigation plans do not drive the establishment of monoculture tree plantations. The rapid ongoing direct and indirect replacement of forests by plantations is a significant cause of social and environmental harm and contributes significantly to climate change," said Diego Cardona from Friends of the Earth -Colombia and the Global Forest Coalition.

"The definition of forests in the climate change negotiations includes monoculture tree plantations thus allowing their promotion disguised as forests in market-based mechanisms that could be used in REDD. All countries need to accept and adopt a forest definition in the climate deal that clearly distinguishes forests from monoculture tree plantations," said Raquel Nunez from the World Rainforest Movement.

"A commitment to protect biodiversity and halt deforestation in primary forests would send a positive signal to the global community that we are on the right path towards avoiding a climate disaster," said Joao Talocchi from Greenpeace Brazil.

"Developed countries like Australia, Canada and Russia need to stop undermining the climate negotiations. They should stop industrial logging and woodchipping of their biodiverse forests, permanently protect their own carbon reservoirs and start accounting for their emissions from forestry activities. Only then can they ask developing countries to protect their forests," said Claire Spoors from Global Witness.

Ms. Tillack concluded saying, "We need to act now to secure a safe climate and peak our emissions by 2015. Every day of delay results in the release of huge amounts of dangerous carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We can not wait to take these first steps to ensuring our survival."


NOTE:
[1] The coalition of youth, environmental groups, NGOs, Indigenous peoples' Organizations, women's groups who have signed this survival plea include:
International Youth caucus in Bonn
Ecosystems Climate Alliance
Global Forest Coalition
The Wilderness Society
World Rainforest Movement
Global Witness
Greenpeace
Rainforest Action Network
Wetlands International
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
FERN
Friends of the Earth
Sobrevivencia/FoE-Paraguay
Indigenous Environmental Network
Global Justice Ecology Project
CORE India
Life gender, Environment and Diversity Germany
Sustainable Population Australia
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
the Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network MJUMITA
Stop GE Tree Campaign
RAVA Institute Indonesia
SWBC Nepal
Timberwatch Coalition South Africa
Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition
Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia
Focus on the Global South
Women´s Environment Network Australia
Biofuelwatch
Women Environmental Programme Nigeria
Just Environment
COECO-CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
WALHI-Friends of the Earth-Indonesia
Down to Earth
Carbon Trade Watch
Women's Environment and Development Organization
Watch Indonesia
Asociacion ANDES Peru
Ecologistas en Accion Spain
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
North East Peoples Alliance on Trade, Finance and Development India
WISE Inc. Philippines
GenderCC
FASE Solidarity and Education Brazil
Global Exchange
Kingdom Narintarakul Thai Working group for Climate Justice
Union pour l'Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone

Plea:

 Halt Climate Change ---- Halt Forest destruction ---- Halt Plantations
The undersigned broad coalition of NGOs, Indigenous Peoples' Organizations and women's groups call upon the Parties to the FCCC to take into account the critical role of forest conservation in climate change mitigation. The protection of forest biodiversity is vital for life on earth. Native forest ecosystems  provide us with clean air, clean water, a safe climate, food, fodder and shelter and they are an important part of our global and cultural identity. Forests provide aesthetic and intrinsic values. Indigenous Peoples and traditional local communities of the forests are the guardians and original conservationists  of the forest. They maintain a food sustenance and socio-cultural relationship to the forests based on their cosmovision. 

For that reason, we call upon Parties to:

- Immediately put in place rights-based and equitable policies and institutions to halt deforestation and forest degradation and the destruction of other natural ecosystems like peatlands and grasslands in all continents

- Identify and address the direct and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation;

- Ensure that these policies and measures uphold international human rights and environmental standards and are  fully consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes the effective adoption and implementation by all Parties and all UN agencies and multilateral banks of the Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local forest dependent communities;

- Ensure that these policies take into account the specific role, rights and interests of women and are fully consistent with Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women;

- Ensure that these policies are fully consistent with the Convention on Biodiversity and its Expanded Program of Work on Forest Biodiversity and contribute meaningfully to conserving and enhancing biodiversity and related cultural diversity, traditional knowledge and spirituality;

- Explicitly exclude the establishment and management of monoculture tree plantations, including genetically modified tree plantations, and the practice of industrial logging from these policies. This also implies adopting a forest definition that clearly distinguishes forests from monoculture tree plantations;

- Ensure any policies intended to reduce deforestation and forest degradation include measures to reduce consumption of forest products, especially in the Industrialized North;

- Ensure these policies secure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of forests and other ecosystems, both between countries and within countries, taking into account the critical role of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in conserving and restoring forests and other ecosystems. This also implies recognizing the customary and collective land tenure and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensuring the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in all decision-making processes related to forests;

We call upon developed countries to recognize the historical debt to developing countries caused by their excessive greenhouse gas emissions. This implies immediate and drastic cuts in their domestic greenhouse gas emissions (45% by 2020/ 95% by 2050 as an absolute minimum) AS WELL AS providing sufficient financial and technological support to enable developing countries to halt the destruction of forests and other ecosystems. It is too late for either/or policies. Any form of carbon offsetting, including CDM afforestation/reforestation and REDD offset projects will only increase the ecological footprint and carbon debt of developed countries and must thus be avoided. (Due to a broad range of ethical, social and methodological risks, forest-based carbon offsets will undermine an effective, equitable and socially just climate regime.) Climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management must be based on different mindsets with full respect for Nature, and not on carbon offset mechanisms. Public funding mechanisms that ensure environmental integrity and equitable distribution of funds must be made established.

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