Washington, DC – The power of forests to deliver climate change solutions was displayed in a new virtual tour of Madagascar launched today by Google Earth in partnership with Conservation International (CI). Mixing satellite images with photos and videos, the tour shows initiatives to protect tropical forests and calls on citizens and governments to support these types of projects at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
"These tours are aimed at making complex environmental data accessible to consumers and establishing a communications channel between the public and decision makers," said Benjamin Kott, Green Business Operations Project Manager at Google. The tour is part of a series of climate change virtual trips launched by Google Earth last week in partnership with the Danish government. It can be viewed at Google Earth (www.google.com/cop15) and on the official Copenhagen talks channel in YouTube
Dr. Russ Mittermeier, president of CI, said: "We applaud Google for being at the forefront of using technology to help the public, policymakers and other key stakeholders understand the complex issue of climate change in a unique and exciting way. Protecting forests is crucial to help communities mitigate and adapt to our changing climate, and this tour helps tell the story of how we are doing that in Madagascar."
CI's Madagascar tour demonstrates how organizations and communities are coping with climate change. The tour will take visitors on a trip through mountains, waterfalls and rural communities in six places across the country to see how economic incentives for keeping forests standing – through carbon market initiatives like REDD+ and reforestation projects – promote economic growth, human well-being and healthy ecosystems, while at the same time supporting efforts to fight climate change.
"Deforestation has decreased 36 percent over the past ten years in Madagascar – millions of tons of carbon emissions have been prevented. This remarkable achievement has been possible owing to importance of forests for local communities," said Dr. Frank Hawkins, head of CI’s Africa Program. "Madagascar and other similar countries can only continue these efforts if costs of this contribution to reducing climate change are shared with richer countries. Copenhagen must give communities in Madagascar and elsewhere the economic means to plan their own development under climate change".
Notes to the Editor:
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon) aims at providing compensation to halt the deforestation and degradation of natural forests and increase their recovery and permanent conservation. REDD+ strategies and activities have great potential to contribute to environmental, economic and social goals beyond carbon storage. This approach is consistent with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change goal of achieving climate goals while contributing to sustainable development as well as other Millennium Development Goals that countries have adopted.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.