Imagine a land as vast as Egypt, with 365 thousand square miles of extension: that is the amount of natural forests that Earth has lost in just ten years. A dramatic progression showing no sign of decrease, regardless the many campaigns and calls for awareness. 2017 was one of the most devasting years, the second worst in history according to the WRI - World Resources Institute - and the University of Maryland, which used satellite mapping to find that the loss of forests has doubled since 2003 and the deforestation of rain forests has doubled since 2008. Every minute, the world loses a staggering amount of forests, equivalent to 40 soccer fields, double the number of soccer fields in Italy’s Serie A league.
The problem is not just environmental. Less trees equals less weapons available to humankind to fight climate change, pollution, hydrogeological disasters; less food for millions of people who are forced to migrate from their homeland and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, more damage to our health and to biodiversity.
Yet, the importance of the issue, overshadowed by the enormous economic interests from the big agricultural and industrial multinationals, appears to be underestimated by public opinion. And this is why the cultural association of environmental journalism Greenaccord NPO, who has been promoting for decades a better scientific preparation for journalists, will dedicate to “Earth’s breathing: the forests” its 15th INTERNATIONAL MEDIA FORUM ON THE PROTECTION OF NATURE, held in San Miniato (Pisa) from March 7th to March 9th and organized in collaboration with the Region of Tuscany and San Miniato Promozione.
“The forum – explains Greenaccord’s president Alfonso Cauteruccio – will offer the one-hundred journalists attending from forty different countries, an understanding of the forests’ fundamental role in the general health of our planet, the delicate balance of terrestrial biosphere, the safeguard of the forests’ indigenous people and the strategies for the mitigation of climate change”.
The three-day event – supported with the patronage of Unesco, the Ministries of Environment and of Foreign Affairs, of the Region of Tuscany, the Township of San Miniato, the Carabinieri’ Forestry Corps, the FNSI, the Association of Journalists of the Rai School of Perugia, the Foundation of Bioarchitecture, Coldiretti and VoleRai among others - will host scientists, economists, climatologists, deforestation experts who will evidence the condition of the planet’s forests and underline the social, economical and environmental behaviors which most damage the green patrimony of the planet.
The first day of conferences is dedicated to the quantification of the ecological and economic value of forests: in what conditions are they currently in? What is their role in the fight against climate change? What is their impact on the biodiversity? How can we quantify their environmental value? What is the economic advantage of the Italian national parks? How can we increase the sustainability of the world’s timber business?
The many questions will find answers in the lectures – introduced by the institutional greetings - of Riccardo Baffoni, coordinator of the forest campaigns for the Environmental Paper Network; Riccardo Valentini, director of the CMCC (Euro-Mediterranean center for climate change); Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary General of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development, Salina Abraham, former president of the IFSA (International Forestry Students' Association); Mette Wilkie, head of the Forest Policy and Resources of FAO (world food program); Davide De Laurentis, vice-commander of the Environmental and Agri-food Forestry Unit of the Carabinieri.
On the second day, the forum will focus on the current health of forests throughout the world and on what actions are being taken to fight deforestation. To cite a few of the lecturers: Teresa Muthoni Maina Gitonga, coordinator of the International Tree Foundation; Andrey Laletin, president of Friends of the Siberian Forests; Woro Supartinah, from the Network for Riau Forest Rescue in Indonesia. That afternoon, the journalists will work on a deep-analysis of how to “communicate on forests” and will redact a Manifesto of the Greenaccord journalists on forests.
The final day, March 9th, will be dedicated to the Amazon rain forest, the green heart of the world, on which not only thousands of species of animals and plants depend on, but also the concrete chance to reduce global warming to adequate limits.
The Amazon will also be at the heart of the next Synod of Bishops convened by Pope Francis for the month of October of this year. This is why lecturers include Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and Maurcio López, executive secretary of the Red Eclesial por L’Amzonía. On the same day, Bruno Ratti, president of Geoknowledge Foundation and Fritz Hinterberger, scientific director of the SERI (Sustainable Europe Research Institute) will also be attending and speaking.
In the conclusive session, as for the previous editions, journalists of the Greenaccord Network will be taking the stand and will be assigning the “Greenaccord International Award 2019” for environmental journalism. After consultation with the Greenaccord journalists’, this year’s award is being assigned to African outlet TVC News (Nigeria), as a recognition for their environmental journalism efforts. The former edition had assigned the award to The Guardian for being the best newspaper in Europe for environmental reporting and communication.