Glasgow, Nov. 2, 2021 – The Wildlife Conservation Society has issued the following statement as the importance of forests in combatting the climate and biodiversity crises are receiving widespread support form governments and businesses, including the COP26 IPLC Forest Tenure Joint Donor Statement, the forest commitment from the U.S. government, the announcement from the LEAF coalition (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) on efforts to protect tropical forests, and from the Bezos Earth Fund on landscape restoration and food systems.

Said WCS President and CEO Cristian Samper:

“We welcome the announcements made at COP26 today on the conservation of forests and their key role as we combat the climate and biodiversity crises; and the recognition of the key leadership role of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

“Even if you don’t live in or near a forest, forests are helping you and all life on Earth thrive, by providing key ecosystem services such as clean water, and they are key to addressing the world’s climate and biodiversity crises.

“Science has shown that nature can contribute more than a third of the climate solution, and we cannot meet the goals of the Paris Agreement without nature. Indeed, forests already keep climate change from being considerably worse – by removing 30% of the carbon-dioxide pollution we add to the atmosphere each year. Forests also buffer climate extremes. And tropical forests cool the planet directly and are the source of rainfall that is critical to downwind agricultural and hydroelectric production.

“There is now widespread acceptance that the climate change and biodiversity crises are inextricably linked, and that both are having deeply negative impacts on public health. It is heartening to see and hear this recognition emerging among global leaders, along with commitments to address these crises head-on, including through systemic changes. The spirit prevalent at COP26, articulated by President Biden, is ‘We can do this. Let’s get to work.’

“We welcome the agreement from more than 100 Nations to work collectively to halt deforestation by 2030, and the commitments by many companies to support this goal through managing their supply chains, and perhaps most importantly through redirecting trillions of dollars in investment away from drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and toward forest-positive economic activities.

“WCS has worked with local communities, companies and governments for several decades, helping protect and conserve intact forests that are critical for biodiversity, carbon stocks and the lives of millions of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Now we have the opportunity, and the necessity, to work with a growing number of partners – in government, the private sector, civil and Indigenous and local communities — to leverage and scale that work for global impact.”