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International Conventions, Protocols and Treaties

The primary objective of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gasses in the Earth's atmosphere. The forests of the earth play a major role in the absorption and emission of greenhouse gasses, particularly carbon dioxide. The Framework Convention on Climate Change expects nations to report on their greenhouse gas emissions, while the Kyoto Protocol of this convention includes specific requirements for reporting deforestation, reforestation and aforestation (planting trees where they have not grown before). Data from earth observation satellites is widely recognized as an essential source of recent, reliable, and objective information about changes in forest cover. But systems do not yet exist to process the massive quantities of satellite, air photo, and ground-based data into the needed information. One of the most important objectives of GOFC-GOLD is to advance the implementation of technical and institutional capacity for national and regional organizations to obtain the needed information.

Forests provide habitat for millions of species of plant and animals. The loss and fragmentation of forest cover represents a threat to biodiversity which is readily observable from space. Improvements in the ability to monitor forest cover changes will provide nations with additional capability to recognize and respond to threats to their biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity philosophy of sustainable development, the ecosystem approach, and the emphasis on building partnerships are all helping to shape global action on biodiversity. The data and reports that governments are gathering and sharing with each other can provide a basis for understanding the challenges and collaborating on the solutions.

Desertification occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world's land area, are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations, of which deforestation plays a large role. The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) aims to promote effective action through innovative local programs and supportive international partnerships. The treaty acknowledges that the struggle to protect drylands will be a long one, this is because the causes of desertification are many and complex, ranging from international trade patterns to the unsustainable land management practices of local communities.

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