Press Release / Feb. 12, 2014

UK wildlife summit must focus on preserving rainforests as key to protecting endangered species

World leaders gathering in London today to discuss measures to protect endangered wildlife must focus on preserving rainforest habitats as one of the best ways of stopping poaching, said Global Witness today.

The UK government and Prince Charles will host the Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit in London on Thursday. It aims to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade and protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction by strengthening law enforcement and using trade agreements to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products. These measures are welcome, but will only be effective if coupled with efforts to curb the industrial logging and large scale agriculture that is destroying the rainforest habitats many species rely on to survive.

“If we want to protect wildlife then trade and law enforcement measures to crack down on poaching are only one part of the solution,” said Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness.  “Catching traffickers and poachers won’t help endangered species if we let loggers and agribusiness companies flatten their homes.  Protecting rainforests is critical to preserving wildlife.”

According to a recent study by Google and the University of Maryland, 50 football pitches worth of forest are being destroyed every minute.  The Congo-Basin forest in Central Africa is the world’s second largest virgin rainforest after the Amazon and home to many rare species of wildlife, but is increasingly under threat from industrial logging.

“An area twice the size of the UK has been allocated for logging in Central Africa, one of the world’s poorest, most lawless and volatile regions. If logging roads are built through this pristine habitat, it will be practically impossible to police the poachers and protect the wildlife,” said Pardal. “That’s why the UK Government must lead international efforts to stop any further industrial logging here. Summit leaders must identify how to preserve the rainforest homes of endangered species while developing sustainable livelihoods for people in the poorest countries”.


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