On January 21, during International Green Week in Berlin, the environmental organization Rainforest Rescue presented the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with more than 27,000 signatures in support of an initiative headed up by 613 scientists and professionals in various fields related to the study of nature around the world, calling on FAO to amend its definition of “forest” (see http://wrm.org.uy/forests/letter_to_the_FAO.html).
The definition currently used by the organization has made it possible for native forests to be replaced with monoculture plantations of exotic tree species without this being classified as deforestation. The FAO definition has also allowed the word “forest” to be used for industrial tree plantations that are expanding at the expense of the destruction of other ecosystems. At the same time, the current definition does not consider the structural complexity of forest ecosystems, nor their capacity for preserving biodiversity or storing carbon. Nor does it recognize the fundamental role played by forests in the lives of local communities.
The signatures were collected through two campaigns, organized by Rainforest Rescue and the World Rainforest Movement (WRM).
It is now hoped that FAO will respond by promptly taking steps in the direction urged by the initiative.