GEF To Launch Tropical Forest Account Initiative
Action needed as threats mount for The Amazon, Congo Basin, New Guinea and Borneo
GEF To Launch Tropical Forest Account For World's Last Great Tropical Forests
The world's largest environmental funding body, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), said it plans to launch the Tropical Forest Account Initiative which will help safeguard forest ecosystems while strengthening sustainable financing for protected areas and for sustainable forest management.
'The window to save the last remaining functioning expanses of tropical forests, which are responsible for the delivery of crucial global environmental services, is closing fast,' said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson.
"GEF is teaming up with its partner agencies, governments, business and civil society to address this challenge head on. GEF's investments are also expected to encourage more robust financing from private investors looking to build environmentally-friendly forest markets."
GEF would fund projects to stop deforestation in 17 countries of the Amazon, Congo Basin, New Guinea and Borneo. Tropical deforestation is on the rise, and is now responsible for over 20 percent of global CO2 emissions. The fate of tropical forests is also intimately tied to the future of biodiversity, as these forests harbor over one half of all global biodiversity. Habitat loss in tropical forests threatens 74% of endangered mammals, 44% of endangered birds, 57% of endangered amphibians, and 67% of endangered reptiles.
Each of the GEF-targeted areas has over 8 million hectares of wet broadleaf forests, and they collectively harbor an astonishing 54% of tropical forest cover and 68% of tropical forest carbon. More than 70% of the forest remains intact, but man-made threats are mounting quickly.
By focusing on large, intact tropical forest, the GEF can invest in relatively low cost, proactive ways to prevent deforestation in countries where forest cover is high. Intervening in these areas now is much more cost effective than trying to reverse damage in already deforested areas.
"GEF's investment will fund the strengthening and sustainable financing of protected area networks, the introduction of effective policy and regulatory frameworks for mainstreaming forest conservation in development sectors, and also the fostering of markets for forest goods and services," Barbut said.
The GEF values the role that tropical forests play in providing global and local environmental benefits. In addition to conserving global biodiversity, and providing spiritual and cultural havens for local and remote populations, these forests are vital for sustainable development in each and all of these countries.
About the GEF
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a 178 member-strong international financing body devoted to global environmental issues that support sustainable development. GEF grants flow to projects in developing countries related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and persistent organic pollutants. Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $7.4 billion in grants and leveraging $28 billion in co-financing for over 1,800 projects in over 150 countries.
Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), GEF has also made more than 7,000 small grants, up to $50,000 each, directly to nongovernmental organizations and community organizations.