Environmentalists Praise Jane Goodall's Call for Calif. Governor to Protect Tropical Forests

October 22, 2013
Jennifer Andreassen, 202-572-3387, jandreassen@edf.org
Joaquin McPeek, 916-492-7173, jmcpeek@edf.org

(SAN FRANCISCO – Oct. 22, 2013)  Today U.S. environmental organizations lauded a letter from world-renowned scientist Dr. Jane Goodall to Governor Jerry Brown, calling for California to open a pathway to accept credits for reductions in tropical deforestation in its climate change program.

“Dr. Goodall’s lifetime of study and experience in forests has given her an unparalleled understanding of the urgency of the problem of tropical deforestation – and the huge opportunity California has to help solve it. California is now poised to develop a solution that benefits forest communities and helps the state’s businesses meet emissions reductions goals cost-effectively,” said Environmental Defense Fund Tropical Forest Program Director Steve Schwartzman.

Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, Goodall is a primatologist and world environmental leader who is renowned for her lifelong field studies of chimpanzees and advocacy for habitat protection for the primates. In the Oct. 15 letter, released today, Dr. Goodall wrote:

“I hope you will include international forest protection [in California’s climate program]… In the last few years, specific solutions and safeguards have been developed to address such issues as land tenure rights of people living in and around the forests… it is urgent that all people and the environment feel a positive impact from these efforts…

“REDD+ [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation] and similar carbon reduction projects… have given me hope because they provide financial incentives to protect chimpanzee habitat, and thus an alternative to the many economic pressures to destroy it. We have to find ways to improve the lives of forest communities and provide some revenue for the government, so that both benefit.”

“Dr. Goodall is calling attention to an important provision of California’s climate change program that could multiply two- or three-fold its contribution to slowing climate change. In tropical forest states and provinces, all eyes are on California to see if it will seize this opportunity,” said Earth Innovation Institute President Daniel Nepstad.

Nearly 15% of the global carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change come from deforestation, much of which occurs in the Brazilian Amazon. Reductions in emissions from deforestation, in particular in the Amazon, have made a major contribution to global efforts to control global warming; since 2005 the Amazon has seen its deforestation rate drop 77% below the historic average.

“We can’t successfully tackle climate change unless we reduce this source of the problem, and California can again lead the way,” said Louis Blumberg, California Climate Change Program Director for The Nature Conservancy.

Despite the progress to reduce deforestation that has already been made, incentives to cut deforestation and the factors that cause it remain insufficient.

“If California allows credits for reductions in deforestation, it would send farmers and forest communities a powerful signal that living forests can be worth more than dead ones, and contribute to keeping these greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere,” said EDF’s Schwartzman.

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