Chandigarh, March 25 (IANS) Minimising the cutting of wood and its use as fuel can go a long way to fight global warming, and do so in an affordable way, an expert asserts.
'Forest clearance and wood burning have emerged as a major cause of global warming over the last few decades. Deforestation alone contributes over 25 percent gases responsible for global warming,' Michael Kleine of International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) told IANS. The UN however estimates it contributes around 20 percent.
Kleine added: 'Reduction in number of trees as a result of ignorant deforestation means that there would be fewer trees to absorb CO2 (carbon dioxide), the gas primarily responsible for global warming.'
Kleine is coordinator of the special programme for developing countries (SPDC) that is sponsored by IUFRO.
Kleine was in Chandigarh recently to participate in an international conference on forests. He is based in Vienna, Austria, where the headquarters of IUFRO is located.
'Deforestation has virtually gone out of control and the world's policymakers have to rope in some sweeping guidelines to curtail it. When a tree grows, it takes in CO2 from the air but when wood dies it returns additional CO2 to the environment,' said Kleine.
Kleine said that a very small part of global GDP (gross domestic product), only one percent, is spent to arrest global warming.
He said: 'It is a well-accepted fact that arresting deforestation and planting new trees is one of the most economical ways to cut global warming. But our governments are not paying any heed in this direction at all.'
Talking about the activities of IUFRO, Kleine said: 'We are working hard to save the dense green cover in various developing countries. However, the sad part is that in most of the countries politicians or other government officials who do not know anything about forestry are deciding the fate of forests.
'Our focus is to bring all the developing countries on the same platform to save the forests. Every year we conduct 80-100 such conferences across the world to facilitate the exchange of thoughts and ideas among the countries.'
S. Appanah, national forest programme adviser to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Asia-Pacific region, told IANS: 'In India, wood is being consumed at an alarming rate. The quantity of wood that we burn every year for various purposes is much higher than the quantity of wood that grows here annually.'
Bangkok-based Appanah added: 'It's true that deforestation fulfils many requirements of the human race, but if we observe on broader perspective then there are many intense and upsetting consequences associated with it. In addition, these consequences are not only local but have many global repercussions to follow.'
Rohit Ruhella, an environmentalist based here, said: 'It is the high time we preserved the integrity of our ecosystem. Every aspect of environment is inter-related with forests and it has become essential to reduce deforestation to avoid devastating impacts of global warming.
'Besides, deforestation has also led to the extinction of many rare species of wildlife in the last few years.'
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)