Quote of the Day: Prince Charles on Deforestation


Ladies and gentlemen, the world's forests need to be seen for what they are—giant global utilities, providing essential public services to humanity on a vast scale. They store carbon, which is lost to the atmosphere when they burn, increasing global warming. The life they support cleans the atmosphere of pollutants and feeds it with moisture. They act as a natural thermostat, helping to regulate our climate and sustain the lives of 1.4 billion of the poorest people on this Earth. And they do these things to a degree that is all but impossible to imagine. ...

However, as WWF [World Wildlife Fund] knows only too well, the destruction goes on at a truly terrifying pace—out of sight and out of mind. Every year 50 million acres—an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined—are destroyed or degraded. And the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations International Panel on Climate Change has estimated that emissions from burning forests are responsible for around 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Based on that only the energy sector emits a larger share. Let me say that again. Only the energy sector releases more greenhouse gas emissions than the destruction of the rainforests.The simple fact is that combatting deforestation is likely to be one of the quickest and most cost-effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Sir Nicholas Stern's report states that expenditure of $10-to-15 billion a year could reduce deforestation by half by 2030. And when you realize that figure is less than half of 1 percent of the $3,500 billion the world spends on insurance every year, I think it looks like a bargain. But, having said that, we must go further—half is simply not enough. ...

It seems to me that the central issue in this whole debate is how we put a true value on standing rainforests to the world community—we simply have to find ways of putting a price on them which makes them more valuable alive than dead. This is quite a challenge, to say the least. But after nearly twenty-three years of working to create partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors and to encourage what is now known as Corporate Social Responsibility, I have come to the conclusion—with a few carefully selected volunteers – that it is a challenge worth taking up because of the urgency of the situation."

—Prince Charles in an Oct. 25, 2007 speech to a WWF gala dinner Hampton Court Palace on the Prince's Rainforests Project

Related Content on Treehugger.com