Introduction. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Issue: Preservation and Sustainability of Forest homes of 300 million People

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1 Forum: Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Issue: Preservation and Sustainability of Forest homes of 300 million People Student Officer: Position: Janith Kulatunge Deputy Chair Introduction Forests cover approximately 30% of the planet. Of the estimated 6.8 billion humans inhabiting the planet, 1.6 billion are reliant on forests for their livelihood, either for shelter or resources (such as food, medicines, and timber). Because of their positive effects of forests on climate, water supply, and agriculture, forests are essential to our world's societies. Of these 1.6 billion people reliant on forests for their livelihoods, approximately 300 million make homes in, or in close proximity, to forests, and are thus directly affected by any change to the forest environment. The majority of these people live in conjunction with forests in the tropics, as they are the most plentiful in resources and have the most ideal climates in which to live. Less people rely on, and exist in, more harsh biomes such as tundra, and taiga. Due to this fact, it can be concluded that the issues of the preservation, and sustainability of forests mostly refer to tropical forests. Taiga forests comprise the largest forest biome in terms of land area, however they do not house as many people as do tropical rainforests. They spread across the northern regions of the Earth, mainly Canada and Russia (countries with very sparse populations). They are not to be confused with tundra, the harsh arctic biomes, in which floral, fauna and human activity is less common. Demographic and geographical studies show that less developed nations (LEDCs) have relatively more forest cover that has not been exploited for urbanization or industry than do MEDCs. Many of these nations are located close to the equator, whereby tropical forests are situated, meaning that the threat for exploitation is strongest for tropical forests. As nations develop, the rate of population increase rises

2 dramatically. Deforestation will take place in the process of urbanization, which is necessary to support the growing population (i.e. more room is needed to cultivate food, and to live in). As a result of this, forest ecosystems will be heavily impacted, negatively affecting the lives of the 1.6 billion people who rely on them. Key Terms Defined Agriculture- A significant cause of deforestation in the forests of developing nations. Trees are cut down to create planes on which crops can be grown. It has been scientifically proven that the soil on which rainforests exist is inappropriate for agriculture, as it does not possess enough nutrients to be reused over and over for new crops when not in forests condition (i.e. without dead matter constantly adding new nutrients to it). Deforestation- The cutting down/ permanent destruction of forests by humans. This is usually carried out to create flat land for agriculture, industrialization, or urbanization (usually depending on how developed the nation is/ what sector of production they concentrate on). It is a cause of many environmental issues such as the extinction of species, deterioration of air quality, and global warming. Indigenous people- Indigenous people are the original ethnic groups of a region, before the arrival of foreign inhabitants. They often follow traditional, or primitive, methods of living. Their practices vary from region to region, as do their living conditions. A large portion of indigenous people live in forests, as did their ancestors, and they make up a large proportion of the total amount of people who live in conjunction with forests. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)- The designated authority of the United Nations for environmental issues at the global and regional level. It s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. General Overview of the Topic Large portions of forests are destroyed on a daily basis to create more space for industry, agriculture, and urbanization. Since all three of these are necessary for the

3 development and progress of a nation, a compromise between them and the preservation of forests (for the good of ecosystems, and those who rely on forests) must be attained. This could be more challenging for developing nations, as they may have trouble attaining the technology, expertise and funds required to provide special attention to their forests. In many tropical countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of low income cultivators. The soil of most forest biomes lack nutrients, as the fauna immediately absorbs all nutrients present in the ground. Those nutrients are only returned to the soil through the decay of dead matter (leaves, trees etc) on the forest floor. The farmland created by poor farmers, via leveling out the forest, lasts them for only a few crops before it becomes dead land. As they cannot afford to re-fertilize it, they just level out another section of forest, to use it for farming. This usage of land, and subsequent abandonment of it, continues, and this can heavily impact other populations relying on the forests. Urbanization and the growth of industry are both qualities of a developing nation. LEDCs often lack the space in which to carry out both of these, and thus often turn to the exploitation of forestland. Such allows for development, at a great cost to the environment, and to the people. The United Nations (UN) has expressed its stance on the issue through many actions. The forming of the significant organization, the UNEP, by the UN, shows that the UN is ready to take action on severe environmental issues. Another UN initiative, namely the UN-REDD (United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) has been put into place to create an incentive for developing countries to protect, better manage and wisely use their forest resources. Such will be done through aiming to make forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in trees. With the collaboration of these two organizations, the UN has the power to bring certain policies regarding this issue into place. Major Parties Involved Australia

4 Almost 20% of Australia s total land is forested. 15% of this area belongs to a public nature reserve. The forest and wood products industry is one of Australia s largest and most diverse industries. It makes a profit of approximately $22 billion annually (USD). Timber production is permitted in 6% of the total native forest area. Australia has a large indigenous population. This group of people is commonly known as the Aborigines. The Australian Aborigines make up approximately 3% of the population, and have been occupying the area for thousands of years. They are not the only people who are reliant on the natural resources of Australia; many Australians live in remote areas whereby they live somewhat disconnected with modern society and, instead, live off the land. Brazil Home to a large part of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil has the second largest forest cover of any nation. Its 4,714,920 km 2 of forest is second only to the forest cover of Russia. This forest covers more than half of the total Brazilian land area, making it is the most bio-diverse country on Earth. What is more, the Brazilian Amazon alone is home to more than 20 million people. Unlike other tropical countries, only a third of Brazilian deforestation is attributed to the activities of poor, subsistence cultivators. Brazilian deforestation has mainly been caused by land clearing for pastureland by commercial and speculative interests, and the commercial exploitation of forest resources. Deforestation in Brazil is heavily linked with its economy; when the economy is healthy, the rate of deforestation is high, unlike the low rates observed during periods in which the economy is progressing slowly. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the funds to rapidly expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks funds to sponsor highways and colonization programs. Canada Canada, the second largest country in the world, possesses the third largest forest cover. Northern Canada is largely covered by boreal forest, also known as the taiga biome. It is home to indigenous beings known as boreal people. With one of the sparsest populations, and largest land and forest areas, in the world, the boreal people of Canada have quite a lot of forest area to exist in. It is unlikely that the resources,

5 and land that they depend on would be dangerously exploited in the near future. 8% of the boreal forest is protected from development by the government, and other activities are heavily monitored, and restricted. A tundra biome is also evident in the northernmost parts of Canada. China Approximately 22% of China is forested. The forestry industry is a very important one in China, as the country acquires more than US$ 350 billion annually through forest products. A fast developing nation, China is undergoing massive urbanization. Even though more than half of the Chinese population still resides in rural areas (often forested) and relies on rural industry, it is much less than the number of people who did so in the nation s past. Massive rural to urban migration within the nation is seeing the growth of cities, and, inversely, a sparser rural population. Considering the fact that people are moving away from reliance on rural/ forested conditions, and are instead migrating to cities, China may see the massive destruction of such areas as practical to pave the way for urbanization. This could have a negative impact on the economy, due to a fall of the forestry industry (shrinking primary sector), unless money made by the growing secondary sector compensates for it. Indonesia More than half of the Indonesian archipelago is covered by tropical rainforests and there is a large population of indigenous/tribal people who live in the Indonesian forests. A developing nation, Indonesia heavily relies on its forest industries. Members of the population who live in rural areas, and have little access to the sea, heavily rely on forested areas for resources, and possibly in order to make a living. The transmigration plan within Indonesia involves the migration of people from densely populated areas to those that have a low population density. This has negatively affected the original inhabitants of the sparsely populated areas. The program has resulted in greater deforestation for fuel wood and building materials for colonists' needs. Large-scale logging throughout Indonesia, especially in Borneo and New Guinea, has displaced thousands of tribal peoples. Russia

6 The majority of the 22% share of the world s forests that Russia possesses is taiga, and a tundra environment spans across the northernmost parts of the country. Many people, as well as ecosystems, rely on the existence of these forested areas. Similarly to Canada, which also possesses a large taiga, the density of populations in the Russian taiga is not very great. A large amount of forestland is present, for a comparatively small population. Large areas of Siberia s taiga have been harvested for lumber since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Possible Solutions The main inhibitors of the preservation of forests, the homes of flora, fauna and people alike, are the unsustainable practices of humans. There are two main aspects of this issue that demand attention. They are (1) the preservation, and (2) the sustainability of forests. Sustainable practices must be put into place in order to preserve forests. A strategy employed by many nations, developing and developed alike, involves the sectioning off of main forested regions, and declaring them as protected areas. This significantly reduces the rate of deforestation, as all commercial deforestation is halted. The only conceivable drawback to this strategy is that people cannot be able/ permitted to live within these sections of forest. Governments have to choose between relaxing conservation laws for these people, or completely disrupting their lives to move them elsewhere - the latter being somewhat counterproductive, considering the issue at hand. Governments can reduce the economic incentives for deforestation and unsustainable logging, and instead provide economic incentives to conserve biodiversity. This way felling on a large, commercial scale will be halted. Populations that lie in close conjunction would still be able to use the forest for resources, provided that they do it in a sustainable way. This could mean through practices such as but not limited to replanting trees that they cut down, and avoiding unnecessary infliction of damage on the environment. Offering incentives for the protection of forests would be the motivation to encourage all people to be more eco-friendly, and local organizations that function in the name of preserving forests would be given more power and significance.

7 An issue cannot be solved without the corporation of the people involved in it. Working in conjunction with those who live in forests, or those whose livelihood depends on forests, would permit for plausible solutions from all viewpoints. Collaboration and cooperation with the UN, member states, and the people affected by the issue (i.e. the 300 million people living in forest homes) is essential in solving the issue at hand. Bibliography "2011 Celebrates International Year of Forests." US Forest Service - Caring for the Land and Serving People. Web. 28 May <http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c4/04_sb8k8xll M9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPyhQoY6BdkOyoCAG ixypg!/?ss=110402>. "About the UN-REDD Programme." UN-REDD Programme. Web. 05 Aug <http://www.unredd.org/aboutunreddprogramme/tabid/583/default.aspx>. "Asian Forest Peoples Today." Mongabay. Web. 06 Aug <http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0703.htm>. "Australia s Forest and Wood Products Industry." Growing Careers. Web. 06 Aug <http://www.growingcareers.com.au/industry/australias-forestand-wood-products-industry>. Butler, Rhett A. "Deforestation in the Amazon." Mongabay. Web. 01 Aug <http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.html>. "China's Forest Products Expected to Fetch $365 Billion This Year." The Economic Times. Web. 05 Aug <http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/ /news/ _1_forest-products-yuan-output>. "Deforestation." National Geographic. Web. 23 July <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/globalwarming/deforestation-overview/>. "Impact of Agriculture in the Rainforest." Mongabay. Web. 03 Aug <http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0811.htm>. "People of the Amazon." Greenpeace International. Web. 04 Aug.

8 2011. <http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/amazon /people-of-the-amazon/>. "Northern Canadian Shield Taiga." National Geographic. Web. 04 Aug <http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/na/n a0612.html>. "UNEP - Government." United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - Home Page. Web. 03 Aug <http://www.unep.org/resources/gov/>.

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