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Forests, for the time being, cover one-third of the Earth’s surface and 1.6 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods. Yet they are disappearing at the rate of 32 million acres every single year. That compares to an area the size of Greece, or in sports terms, it’s equal to losing 36 football fields per minute. New satellite data released today to celebrate the International Day of Forests shows the biggest losses of tropical forests are still in South America and Africa.
This is the second year the UN has highlighted the plight of the forest on March 21st and today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Forests are the lungs of our planet.” Ban noted how crucial forests are to the wood and pulp and paper industries, which globally account for nearly 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product. He and other officials called on countries to push efforts to promote forests for their economic and social benefits, as well as the key they play in fighting climate change. In the U.S. alone, forests absorb 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, a significant contributor to climate change.
Lorna Baldwin is an Emmy and Peabody award winning producer at the PBS NewsHour. In her two decades at the NewsHour, Baldwin has crisscrossed the US reporting on issues ranging from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan to tsunami preparedness in the Pacific Northwest to the politics of poverty on the campaign trail in North Carolina. Farther afield, Baldwin reported on the problem of sea turtle nest poaching in Costa Rica, the distinctive architecture of Rotterdam, the Netherlands and world renowned landscape artist, Piet Oudolf.
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