Deforestation & Climate Change
The Challenge: Deforestation
Deforestation and climate change are global problems that have local impacts. Each year, deforestation claims 13 million hectares of the world's forests, due to causes such as expansion of human settlements and agriculture, commercial interests, and the lack of government capacity to prevent degradation. Because tropical forests, like those in Central America, make up 1/5 of the world’s stored carbon, preventing deforestation—which contributes roughly 18% of annual greenhouse gass emissions—and promoting reforestation are key climate change mitigation strategies.
High rates of deforestation over the past fifty years have greatly impacted the ecosystems of Central America, which are known to contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet. Deforestation not only destroys important wildlife habitat, but also limits the ability of ecosystems to perform their ecological functions. Healthy ecosystems help to prevent erosion, maximize water retention, and provide clean air, clean water, food, and other natural resources to humans and wildlife alike. Thus, Paso Pacifico’s efforts to rebuild forests and ecosystems will benefit both the wildlife and the communities that depend on these natural resources.
The Challenge: Climate Change
Growing scientific evidence has shown that some degree of climate change is inevitable, and scientists believe that impoverished, rural communities will be the most vulnerable to its impacts. (Please refer to the IPCC website for further information). The onset of climate change makes the relative health of ecosystems increasingly important. Countries like Nicaragua, which has a long history of deforestation, will be more vulnerable to flooding, erosion, and landslides than countries with less degraded ecosystems.
Nicaragua has already begun to experience early impacts of a changing climate. Over the past three decades, the country has undergone a warming trend, with increased drought in the southwest. The frequency and severity of storms nationwide have increased, and after the extensive damage caused by recent Hurricanes Felix (2007) and Mitch (1998), Nicaragua is now ranked the third most vulnerable country in the world to extreme weather events, according to the 2009 Global Climate Risk Index.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change impacts of greatest concern for Nicaragua are expected to include trends of warming, southwestern drought, and extreme storm events, as well as predictions of increases in sea-surface temperature and sea level. Warming trends and droughts will result in decreased natural water retention by soils, and also increased erosion, flooding, and landslides. The IPCC also emphasizes that coastal regions and associated fishing and agricultural livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
PO Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244
Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4
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© 2006 Paso Pacífico