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紐時賞析/熱帶林消失趨緩 但仍危急

2019-05-15 13:26紐時賞析

巴西熱帶雨林。路透
巴西熱帶雨林。路透
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A Respite From Record Losses, but Tropical Forests Are Still in Trouble

熱帶林消失趨緩 但仍危急

The years 2016 and 2017 were especially bad for the world’s tropical forests as dry, hot weather led to widespread fires that, along with activities like clear-cutting for agriculture, resulted in record levels of forest destruction.

對全球熱帶林而言,2016和2017年特別難捱,乾熱天氣引發大範圍火災,再加上伐林騰地以供農用這類活動,導致森林遭受空前破壞。

Last year was generally wetter and had fewer fires, so forest loss was expected to be lower. Data released recently show that is the case, but there’s little cause for celebration.

去年大致上比較潮濕,火災也較少,森林的消失理當輕微些。4月25日公布的資料顯示確實如此,但也沒什麼好慶祝的。

In all, about 30 million acres of tropical forest were lost in 2018, according to an analysis of satellite images released by Global Forest Watch, a program of environmental research group World Resources Institute. This is down from the highs of 42 million acres in 2016 and 39 million acres in 2017.

根據環境研究組織世界資源研究所「全球森林觀察計畫」發布的衛星影像分析,2018年總共約有3000萬英畝熱帶林消失,比2016年4200萬英畝和2017年3900萬英畝這兩個最高紀錄來得少。

But the 2018 total is still the fourth highest since satellite analysis began in 2001. “If you look back over the last 18 years, it’s clear that the overall trend is still upwards,” said Frances Seymour, a fellow at the institute. “We’re nowhere near winning this battle.”

不過,2018年的數字仍是2001年開始分析衛星影像以來第四高的。世界資源研究所研究員法蘭西絲.西摩說:「回顧過去這18年,顯然整體趨勢仍在往上走。我們離打贏這場仗還差得遠了。」

Of the 2018 total, close to 9 million acres (an area the size of Belgium), were old-growth, or primary, forest, which stores more carbon than other types of forests and provides habitat that is critical to maintaining biodiversity. The 9-million-acre total is the third highest since 2001.

在這2018年總數中,近900萬英畝(有比利時那麼大)是原始林,或稱原生林,比其他種類森林儲存更多碳,而且提供對維持生物多樣性極重要的棲地。這900萬英畝是2001年以來第三高的數字。

There was some good news in the data. Indonesia, which in 2016 instituted new conservation policies following devastating fires, had less forest loss for the second year in a row.

在這資料中有些好消息。印尼經歷毀滅性火災後,2016年制定新的保護環境政策,森林消失面積已連續兩年減少。

“It seems that Indonesia’s forest policies are working,” said Mikaela Weisse, manager of the Global Forest Watch program. But the country will face a new test this year, Weisse said, as El Niño conditions may bring more warmth and dryness, increasing the risk of forest fires.

全球森林觀察計畫負責人米凱拉.魏瑟說:「看來印尼的森林政策有效。」不過魏瑟說,印尼今年會面臨新考驗,因為聖嬰現象可能使天氣更熱更乾,導致林火風險增加。

Indonesia’s progress was more than offset by increases in forest loss elsewhere, including some African countries. Loss is becoming more decentralized, Weisse said. Where 15 years ago Indonesia and Brazil accounted for nearly three-quarters of forest loss worldwide, this year they account for less than half.

印尼一地的進展並不足以抵銷其他地方森林的加速消失,包括一些非洲國家。魏瑟說,森林消失情況變得比較分散。15年前全球森林消失面積,近四分之三在印尼和巴西,今年這兩國合計占不到一半。

Forests, both in tropical and more temperate regions, play an important role in combating climate change, and estimates are that they are declining in size overall. A U.N. study, for example, found that worldwide forest coverage declined by about 3% between 1990 and 2015.

熱帶和氣候較溫和區域的森林,都在對抗氣候變遷中扮演重要角色,而且據估計,森林總體面積正在減少,例如一份聯合國研究顯示,1990年到2015年,全球森林覆蓋面積約減少了3%。

Forest health is linked to climate in two ways. Through photosynthesis, trees and other vegetation remove about one-quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, so fewer trees mean more CO2 remains in the atmosphere. Dead trees also add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, releasing them when they are burned or decompose.

森林健全在兩方面與氣候有關。樹木與其他植物透過光合作用,將人類活動排放的二氧化碳去除了約四分之一,所以樹木變少意味著大氣中二氧化碳變多。樹木死亡後被焚燒或腐爛分解時,也會釋出溫室氣體到大氣中。

文/Henry Fountain 譯/李京倫譯

《說文解字看新聞》

本文談2018年全球熱帶林消失速度比破紀錄的2016年趨緩,但若回顧最近19年,就知道問題仍然嚴重。

clear cutting學術上譯為「皆伐」,是在指定地段上,將成熟林木一次伐完。相關詞有「傘伐」(shelterwood cutting),把區域中所有成熟林木,在一定期限內分幾次採伐完,對森林破壞較輕;「擇伐」(selective cutting)是砍伐成熟、過熟和有缺陷的樹,留下足夠數量健康且有商業價值的樹木和其他樹種,可確保未來木材生產量和防止水土流失。

生物多樣性(biodiversity)是指全球或特定棲地的動植物物種數量,這個詞常見於生態和環境相關文章,1985年首次使用,bio源自希臘名詞bios,意為「生命模式」,diversity源自拉丁文動詞divertere,意為「轉向」或「朝不同方向而去」。

habitat是動物棲息地、植物產地。保護棲息地可以說conserve/protect a habitat,破壞棲息地可以說damage/destroy a habitat。

conserve通常指保育(生態)或節約使用(自然資源),另一個意思是「糖漬保存」,當名詞時是「蜜餞」。

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