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Primary rainforest in Uganda

Rainforest in Uganda.

Destruction of old-growth or primary forests looms large in discussions in Copenhagen over a scheme to compensate tropical countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Some environmental groups are pressing for conservation of old-growth forests — the most carbon-dense, and biologically-rich state of forests — to be the centerpiece of REDD, while industry and other actors are pushing for “sustainable forest management” or logging using reduced-impact techniques to be the primary focus of REDD.

While most of the focus on deforestation is on tropical countries (which are the ones that will benefit most from REDD) several prominent rich countries don’t bother to report loss of primary forests, including Canada and Australia. Canada is estimated to lose more than 50,000 hectares of forest area to clear-cutting, while other areas are affected by selective logging, which is usually categorized as sustainable forest management. Destruction of Tasmania’s old-growth forests for industrial plantations doesn’t show up anywhere in official statistics.

Destruction of old-growth forests looms over climate talks

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