Protected Areas Are Natural Solutions to Fight Climate Change
Published 08th December 2009 - 3 comments - 1788 views -
Protected areas play a major role in reducing climate changing carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Fifteen percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon stock - 312 Gigatonnes - are stored in protected areas around the world. In Canada, over 4,000 million tons of carbon dioxide is sequestered in 39 national parks, estimated to be worth $39-87 billion in carbon credits. In the Brazilian Amazon, protected lands are expected to prevent 670,000 km² of deforestation by 2050, representing 8 billion tons of avoided carbon emissions.
Protected areas also serve as natural buffers against climate impacts and other disasters, providing space for floodwaters to disperse, stabilizing soil against landslides and blocking storm surges. It has been estimated that coastal wetlands in the United States provide $23.2 billion a year in protection against flooding from hurricanes.
With Romania, there's a catch. In theory, we are one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources in the European Union. This huge national wealth should bring us many benefits from clean water to absorbtion of CO2. But we have troubles administrating and taking care of our protected areas. In September 2009, our nation was sued in the European Court of Justice for violating the provisions of the EU Accession Treaty regarding their management.
There was no surprise when it happened. The process of designation of protected areas has been carelessly treated, and of what I further read related to the management structures, Romania is the only EU country that does not offer any government support for their network. Maybe this will change with the upcoming government to be proposed by the President and acknowledged by the Parliament, but so far we have nothing. On the contrary, our Ministry of the Environment (who's also the Ministry of Tourism) passed a urgency ordinance that allows anyone to rent public lands anywhere in the country (including inside protected areas). Although I don't see any benefits of renting land inside any protected area, I at least hope she's done this as a form of Georgism. But I disgress from the major idea of this post.
In Romania, protected areas are simply mentioned on a paper, without any further clarification related to their method of administration (that's one of the reasons Highway 66 could go on for such a long time), without a national coordinating authority and resources allocated by the state budget for administrating them, without having any approved measures to preserve the favorable conservation status or any development or management plans for these areas. It's also true that our CO2 emissions have been reduced in comparison to 1990, but that's not because we pursued sustainable economy, but because polluting industries died.
In other words, we are one of those who suck big time at evaluating and taking care of our valuable resources. Hopefully, the WWF study proving yet again that one safe alternative to counter the effects of climate change is close at hand, right under our eye, will have a high impact and imply some changes in Romania, too.
Protected areas emphasize that biodiversity, natural resources & climate change are interlinked. We can't speak about one without the others and by carelessly managing one, we risk losing everything. Protected areas can also keep natural resources healthy and productive to withstand the impacts of climate change and continue to provide food, clean water, shelter and income communities rely upon for survival. What traditionally worked for passed millenia, can work for the ones to come, too. Does any (local) leader hear me?
About the author
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