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Satellites show forests critical at Earth Summit

Satellite maps show forests critical at Earth Summit


Curitiba, Brazil, 22 March, 2006: Groundbreaking satellite maps reveal the world's forests are in critical condition, Greenpeace revealed today, at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Brazil. They include maps of the last large intact areas of ancient forests around the world including the 'lost world' or garden of eden region of forest on the island of New Guinea, as well as the Amazon and Congo.

“The maps provide evidence that less that 10% of the earth's land area remains as large intact forest areas,” said Greenpeace Forests campaigner Grant Rosoman. “The maps show how heavy the human ‘footprint’ has been in Asia Pacific – only in Europe are there less remaining intact forest landscapes.”

“Never before have the Earth’s remaining large intact forests been mapped in such detail and with a consistent methodology,” said Rosoman. “We have used state of the art technology, such as high resolution satellite imagery, to create a new important tool for governments, environment groups and landowners to understand the extent of remaining ancient forests and work together to protect them.”

The Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth. Much of the large intact forest landscapes have already been cut down - 72% for Indonesia and 60% for Papua New Guinea. They continue to be under enormous threat, for example 45% of intact forest landscapes in PNG are covered by logging concessions.

“In PNG, other Melanesian countries and Indonesia, these maps provide evidence to governments of the need to improve protection of ancient forests in a region with the fastest deforestation rate on earth,” said Grant Rosoman.

These ground breaking maps are being released at a time when both terrestrial and marine life is being destroyed at an unprecedented rate. The current rate of extinction of plant and animal species is approximately 1,000 times faster than it was in pre-human times and is predicted to be 10,000 times faster by the year 2050 (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

As well as being a unique reservior of biodiversity, the current intact paradise forests are home to thousands of indigenous peoples from hundreds of different cultures and languages. Immediate moratoria are urgently needed on new industrial developments in the last intact forests identified by these maps. The maps clearly show what is left of the world’s ancient forests and provide clear evidence to world governments, meeting in Brazil this week, on the need for urgent action to protect what is left before these forests are destroyed.

The launch of the maps coincides with Greenpeace campaigns to highlight the global biodiversity crisis. The Rainbow Warrior is in Manokwari, Papua, Indonesia, on a mission to protect the Paradise Forests from illegal and destructive logging. The flagship is near the Foja Mountain area recently declared a 'New Eden' rich in undiscovered plant and animal species.

Greenpeace has also set up a Global Forest Rescue Station in the Paradise Forests of Papua New Guinea, working with landowners and other environment groups to protect the forests from illegal logging by establishing ecoforestry as a viable alternative.

To view maps: www.greenpeace.org/forestmaps or www.intactforests.org


ENDS

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