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OPEC for Rainforests

The three countries with the largest areas of rainforest in the world - Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - launched a new partnership this week to coordinate conservation efforts.

Waterfall in a rainforest

Nicknamed the “OPEC for rainforests,” referring to the intergovernmental organization that coordinates fossil fuel production and exports, the alliance is designed to protect vital ecosystems and give countries with large swathes of rainforest more bargaining power on the international stage.

The three partner countries have a combined 1.8 billion acres of forests that serve as a huge carbon sink for the planet - a fact that could be leveraged to negotiate, for example, conservation finance from private investors or wealthy countries.

“These three ecosystems are critical for the ecological stability of the world,” Oscar Soria, campaign director for the activism site Avaaz, told the Guardian. Rainforests also foster more than half of the planet’s mammals, birds, reptiles, and other vertebrate species, as well as tens of thousands of the world’s known species of plants.

Deforestation is a critical issue, so any and every mechanism for reducing it and reversing it, is an environmental positive.

Environmental advocates have lauded the alliance but stressed that the three member countries must take care to include Indigenous peoples in decision-making - as research shows the world’s most biodiverse and resilient forests are on protected Indigenous lands.

Small island covered in trees
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