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Forests Move to Center Stage in 2016

01/18/2016

2015 was a big year for forests and 2016 promises to be even bigger. With so much on the horizon for the New Year, it’s difficult to know which stories to follow.
 
Some of the hot topics the Philadelphia Zoo will be watching most closely relate to animals losing their habitat to oil palm plantations and the increased interest in something called “REDD+.”
 
“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” – or REDD - is a way of slowing climate change by protecting forests. If forests aren’t cut down, the carbon they naturally store will remain in the trees. The “+” in “REDD+” refers to sustainable forest management practices with the same goal in mind.
 
“After getting the official go-ahead at the Paris COP, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program will start to move forward in 2016.”
 
Peatland protection and restoration, along with the implementation of Zero Deforestation commitments made by palm oil and pulp and paper companies, will also be key this year to keeping the planet cool and providing habitat for wildlife.
 
“Indonesia, President Jokowi decreed a series of regulations intended to protect and restore peatlands, while barring opportunists from using last year’s peat fire disaster for their own gain.”
 
Haze
Storms following a prolonged fired season in Indonesia that dumped tons of greenhouse gases into our shared atmosphere.

 
 In addition, “The adoption of zero deforestation policies among major palm oil companies has outpaced all expectations in the past two years. So we can look for a lot of discussion around how they are progressing in eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.”

Palmoil
Palm oil plantation butting up to forest edge breaks connectivity for wildlife moving through forests.

 
 Stay tuned for updates and opportunities throughout the year to act to save animals like tigers, orangutans, and gorillas that depend on the success of efforts like these.
 
You can start today by asking Mars, Kellogg’s, or General Mills for an update on their progress towards meeting their deforestation-free palm oil commitments.