A joint effort among many conservation organizations has produced a new book called, “Natural Solutions: Protected Areas Helping People Cope with Climate Change.” The book outlines the role that protected areas play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The effort combines the expertise of IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, the United Nations Development Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Bank and WWF.
The organizations urge that protected areas be considered among the top solutions to climate change based upon their impressive contributions that include:
Fifteen percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon stock – 312 Gigatonnes – are stored in protected areas around the world. In Canada, more than four billion 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 eight billion tons of avoided carbon emissions.
Protected areas 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.
Protected areas can keep natural resources healthy and productive so they can withstand the impacts of climate change and continue to provide the food, clean water, shelter and income communities rely upon for survival. Thirty three of the world’s 100 largest cities derive their drinking water from catchments within forest protected areas.
Download the report here.