Carbon finance is key to better protection of gorillas and elephants to maintain health of African rainforests says UN Ambassador
Washington/Bonn, 13 October 2009 - The United Nations Ambassador for the Year of the Gorilla, Ian Redmond, has called for the inclusion of gorillas and elephants, as important components in African rainforests, in the upcoming climate negotiations in Copenhagen.
Large mammals, such as elephants and gorillas, are keystone species in their relevant ecosystems. Gorillas act as 'gardeners' in the rainforests of the Congo Basin, and protecting them helps prevent loss of flora that are ecologically dependent on them.
Gorillas are second only to elephants in the number of seeds they disperse each day in the forests of Africa. When eating fruit and seeds, the seeds pass through their system and are in this way prepared for germination.
UN Ambassador, Ian Redmond, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission across eight African gorilla range states said: "The gorillas and elephants of Africa are doing the world a service. UNEP has just succeeded in its Seven Billion Tree campaign, but I would estimate that the apes and elephants of Africa disperse some seven billion seeds every day! The full extent of the role they play in maintaining the health of their forest habitat - a central component of the Earth's climate regulation -is still poorly understood."
Fifteen years of armed conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa, accompanied by illegal exploitation of minerals to finance militias, led to a sharp increase in demand for bushmeat. In addition, rapidly growing urban populations accelerated deforestation through charcoal production. Consequently, gorillas and elephants have been poached in large numbers.