Leaders to protect assets in tropical rain forest countries to

Indigenous and religious leaders from countries in the world’s main tropical rainforests met on Monday in Norway to forge an alliance to prevent the destruction of the valuable natural asset.

Rainforests in Africa, Asia and South America are keys in storing carbon and to avert climate change.

Rainforests are extremely rich in biodiversity and for providing food, water and income to 1.6 billion people across the globe.

However, they are under increased pressure from logging, mining, as well as the production of palm oil and soya, and cattle farming, organisers in Oslo said.

Indigenous leaders from Brazil, Colombia, DR Congo, Indonesia and Peru were present in Oslo along with representatives from various Christian denominations, Muslim leaders from Indonesia, and Buddhist, Daoist, and Jewish faith leaders are in attendance.

“The world’s religious and faith communities have a unique capacity to raise awareness and understanding of our responsibility to protect these valuable ecosystems,’’ said Achim Steiner, the Head of UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Convenors included the UNDP, the Norwegian government, the Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), and interfaith networks.

Lars Lovold, the Head of RFN, said participants would also take part in a two-day closed door session where he hoped they would “agree on an action agenda’’ and mobilise.

“If these religious networks really engage, it would have a tremendous impact,’’ he added.

Singling out the rainforests was due to the “dramatic threats’’ they faced and their importance, Lovold said, noting they are home to 70 million indigenous people.

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