Le prix de la préservation de la forêt

L’Amérique latine est généreusement dotée de faune et de forêts luxuriantes. Elle abrite un tiers des espèces de mammifères et plus d’un quart de tous les reptiles et oiseaux connus. Mais cette abondance est menacée. Au rythme de sept millions d’hectares chaque année, la déforestation est plus rapide en Amérique du Sud que sur tout autre continent. C’est ainsi que plus de 10 000 espèces risquent de disparaître – soit deux tiers des espèces menacées sur la planète.

En un sens, la solution est évidente. Les propriétaires terriens abattent des arbres parce que c’est ce qui leur rapporte le plus sur le plan économique. Il faut donc que les responsables politiques les incitent à ne pas le faire. Si l’on pouvait exploiter le potentiel des forêts latinoaméricaines – sans les détruire – on pourrait résoudre le problème de la destruction de l’habitat.

On peut aisément calculer le coût de projets spécifiques, par exemple pour sauver la chouette tachetée. Il est beaucoup plus difficile de savoir combien cela coûterait d’empêcher l’abattage, mais certains ont essayé. Les évaluations réalisées par des économistes varient de 1,23 milliards de dollars par an (pour sauver des arbres dans les “points chauds” de biodiversité en Amérique latine), 5,8 milliards par an (pour préserver 2 % de la surface du continent) ou encore 500 milliards (un seul versement pour sauver toutes les forêts d’Amérique latine).

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