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Re: SC17

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May 22, 2006 09:58PM
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-05/ns-hfd051706.php

Himalayan forests disappearing

THE Himalayas may never be the same again. The forests growing on the roof of the world are disappearing, and the rate of deforestation is so rapid that a quarter of animal and plant species native to this biodiversity hotspot, including tigers and leopards, could be gone by the end of the century.
Worse, the Indian government is oblivious to the problem because official figures erroneously suggest that forest cover will rise rather than fall. This mistake has led to the approval of new schemes, such as hydroelectric dams, that will exacerbate the devastation.

The Himalayan region has long been recognised as extremely rich in animal and especially plant diversity. For instance, a paper published last year in Science concluded that Himalayan watersheds harbour more diverse ecosystems than the Amazon. "Himalaya's importance as a biodiversity-rich area and its need for conservation cannot be overemphasised," says Maharaj Pandit of the University of Delhi, India.

Now a team of researchers led by Pandit have revealed evidence of widespread deforestation in the Indian Himalaya region, which threatens tigers, black bears, musk deer, leopards, golden eagles and bearded vultures that depend on the forests. Large-scale conservation efforts are urgently needed to avoid the disappearance of these animals from the region, they say..........

Less than one-third of the dense forest on which many native species depend will survive in the western Himalaya, while less than three-quarters in the eastern Himalaya will remain. What's more, the researchers consider these conservative estimates, as they think increases in population and agriculture will increase the deforestation rate.
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