Beijing – According to a Greenpeace study released today, Hainan province's rainforests in central mountain region have been disappearing at a rate of about 200,000 square meters every day for the past ten years because of illegal logging and plantation establishment.
That amount of deforestation is equivalent to losing 27 football fields of rainforest every day for the past 10 years.
Even more alarming: Hainan's rainforests are home to the world's rarest primate, the Hainan gibbon, of which it is believed that only 23 remain in the wild.
"When you have just 23 of a particular animal species left in the wild, that says we humans aren't being good stewards of the environment," said Greenpeace forests campaigner Yi Lan. "A lack of enforcement brought about this rapid loss of rainforest and it's about to bring about the extinction of a species."
The Greenpeace study – based on analysis of satellite images and field work in the central mountain region of Hainan – states that more than 72,000 hectares of Hainan's rainforests have been cut down and replaced with industrial plantations since 2001, which is a loss of almost 25 percent. Deforested areas are then converted by loggers into plantations.
"This illegal deforestation comes in response to market demand and disrespect for nature," Yi said. "In this case, the local government has the ability to stop the rainforests and the gibbons from disappearing from Hainan."
Chinese laws currently protect Hainan's rainforests and the gibbons that live in them, but these laws are not enforced enough to prevent the destruction of some of China's most precious treasures.
Greenpeace calls on the Hainan government to take action to stop the rainforests from being cut down and converted into plantations. Officials should strictly enforce laws meant to ensure that the forests are preserved and the gibbons protected.
Head to our China site for the full feature on the Hainan rainforests and gibbons (in Chinese).
Evan Brooks, International Media Officer
+86 139 1151 5405
Yi Lan, Forests Campaigner
+86 10 6554 6932 ext. 119
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