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Religious and indigenous leaders urge better protection of forests

interfaith                                                                                   Photo courtesy: Reuters / Alister Doyle

The Interfaith Rainforest Initiative was launched on June 19th in Oslo, Norway. The first to gather religious (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Daoist) and indigenous people from all over the world to seek out common ground for protection of tropical forests from the Amazon to Africa's Congo Basin.

Fr. Rigobert Minani SJ, the JESAM Social Apostolate Network (JASCNET) attended the gathering.

The head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo likened current losses of tropical forests to a collective suicide by humanity. "Without the forests we don't have life, he said.

The Interfaith Rainforest Initiative representatives explored ethical and moral arguments to protect forests that are under threat from logging and land clearance for farming. "Trees don't have only ecological value for us, but also cultural value for us. Every tree," said Joseph Itongwa of Democratic Republic of Congo, a representative of indigenous peoples in Africa.

The net extent of the world's forests shrank by 33,000 square km (12,700 square miles) a year from 2010-15, about the size of Belgium, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says. This rate is almost half that of the 1990s. The organizers hope to hold a summit in 2018.

 

By Anastasia Makunu | JESAM Communications

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