---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 09:12:46 +0900 (JST)
From: James Albert <albert at nms.ac.jp>
To: nia-net at inpa.gov.br
Subject: [nia-net] BIOD: The Year the World Caught Fire
1997: The Year the World Caught Fire
OVERVIEW, SOURCE & COMMENTARY
The World Wide Fund for Nature summarizes the information tropical
deforestation this past year. More forest burned in 1997 than in any other
time in recorded history. About 9.36 million acres of forests and other
land burned in Indonesia, 2.94 million acres in Brazil (including large
areas in the Atlantic forest), and 41,990 acres in Colombia. Vast areas
also burned in Australia, China, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia,
Rwanda, and Tanzania. The 2.47 million acres of peat forests still burning
in Indonesia will produce more carbon dioxide in the next six months than
the entire annual contribution from cars and power stations in western
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
Title: 1997 was the year the world caught fire, says WWF
Source: Agence France-Presse
Status: Copyright 1997, contact source to reprint
Date: Tuesday, December 16, 1997
LONDON, Dec 16 (AFP) - More tropical forest burned around the world in
1997 than at any other time in recorded history, a report by the World
Wide Fund for Nature said Tuesday.
The fund said "1997 will be remembered as the year the world caught
fire," said Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, head of its forest programme.
And it called for the setting up of an international court for the
environment to rule on cases where environmental mismanagement at a
national level had a major global impact.
At least five million hectares (12.3 million acres) of forests and
other land burned in Indonesia and Brazil alone, along with vast areas
of Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Peru, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and other
parts of Africa."
Large scale fires also burned in Australia, China and Russia.
Jeanrenaud said new figures showed that in the Brazilian Amazon,
forest fires increased by more than 50 percent over 1996.
Many fires were started deliberately to clear land for planting or
cover up illegal logging.
The report said infuences of the El Nino weather pattern, intensified
by pollution-induced climate change, had turned previously moist
forests into drier habitats which burned more easily.
"We are creating a vicious circle of destruction, where increased
fires are both a result of changes in the weather and a contributory
factor to these changes," said Jeanrenaud.
The spectacular fires in Indonesia which threw up a smog haze across
large expanses of southeast Asia earlier this year had set peat
deposits on fire which would continue to burn deep underground for
months or even years to come, he said.
He estimated one million hectares (2.47 million acres) of peat forests
were still burning in Indoensia and would produce more carbon dioxide
in the next six months than the entire annual contribution from cars
and power stations in western Europe.
Among forest sites destroyed or damaged in the past year were:
- Parts of the 2,400 hectare (5,928 acres) Imenti Forest around Mount
Kenya in Kenya;
- Two million hectares (2.94 million acres) of forest in Brazil,
including endangered Atlantic forest;
- 17,000 hectares (41,990 acres) of forest destroyed in Colombia;
- Two million hectares destroyed in Indonesia, threatening endangered
- Thousands of hectares of grassland and rainforest lost in Papua New
The report said forest fires which occurred naturally provided
But it criticised forest mismanagement and cited the United States as
an example. It said the US routinely suppressed forest fires,
disrupting ecological processes and increasing the risks of greater
and more destructive fires in the future.
The report calls for control of illegal activities and strict
enforcement of existing natural laws.
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This document is a PHOTOCOPY for educational, personal and non-
commercial use only. Recipients should seek permission from the
source for reprinting. All efforts are made to provide accurate,
timely pieces; though ultimate responsibility for verifying all
information rests with the reader. Check out the Gaia Forest
Conservation Archives at URL= http://forests.org/
Nippon Medical School