PARIS, November 13 – Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai on Wednesday urged upcoming talks on climate change to focus on protecting forests, especially rich tree lands in the Congo Basin, Amazonia and Southeast Asia.,
"I’ve been hoping that this time, in the negotiations, forests will be protected," Maathai told reporters during a trip to Paris.
"African countries have to prioritise these issues," she added. "African environment ministers are working closely to come up with one African position."
Deforestation accounts for around a fifth of global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
This problem was not addressed in the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol for tackling climate change. Campaigners hope that in talks to frame its successor deal, which will take effect from the end of 2012, new mechanisms will be set in place to encourage forest conservation, including financial rewards.
Negotiations unfold in Poznan, Poland, from December 1 to 12 as a prelude to a final haggle in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Maathai is to attend the Poznan talks as a "goodwill ambassador" for the forests of the Congo Basin, but she also spoke about the importance of the rainforests of Amazonia and Southeast Asia.
"These three blocks are extremely important, and I hope the post-Kyoto negotiations will include the issue of forests, especially these three forests."
Maathai, 68, received the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for environmental work and reforestation in Kenya.