Several of the world's largest cities agreed at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last week to collaborate on an initiative to conserve and restore forests to mitigate the impact of natural disasters. (Reuters Photo/Edgar Su)

45 of World's Largest Cities Join Global Initiative to Conserve Forests

BY :SARAH YUNIARNI

SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

Jakarta. Several of the world's largest cities agreed at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last week to collaborate on an initiative to conserve and restore forests to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

Under the Cities4Forests initiative, 45 cities, including Jakarta, will commit to conserving and restoring forests while raising awareness among their residents of the many benefits trees offer.

"Cities have invisible footprints on faraway forests that most people aren't aware of. The commodities we consume – timber, paper, palm oil, beef and soybeans – can be responsible for destroying forests. And the benefits forests provide to cities are underappreciated too," Frances Seymour, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, said on Thursday (13/09).

The participating cities, which represent more than 164 million people, include Addis Ababa, Bogota, Oslo, São Paulo, Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Every city faces challenges. Jakarta, Bogota and Johannesburg for example, have growing concerns about clean drinking water, while Mumbai and Miami face rising sea levels.

However, these problems can be mitigated by conserving forests and planting more trees, not only in areas far from cities, but also in urban areas.

Trees planted in urban areas, such as parks and backyards, can help prevent landslides and flooding, filter out air pollution and moderate air temperatures, while forests in remote areas help to combat climate change, increase rainfall and serve as homes for many species.

Oswar Mungkasa, Jakarta deputy governor for spatial planning and environment, said the initiative is one of the ways the city administration seeks to strengthen collaboration with local and international communities to turn the Indonesian capital green.

The regional government aims to develop more parks, create a roadmap for green open spaces, and improve flood control through river normalization.

The Cities4Forests initiative is jointly managed by the World Resources Institute, the Pilot Projects Design Collective and communications firm Revolve.

The 45 cities that have joined the initiative will receive technical support to measure tree cover and advice on where to plant trees to maximize their effect. The cities will also receive assistance in sourcing funding to improve degraded areas, and in helping them draw up guidelines for the sustainable procurement of timber, paper products and construction materials.

Provincial and municipal governments can use the coalition network to exchange ideas with other cities, share success stories and develop plans to engage residents in more environmentally friendly activities.

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