WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new report released yesterday shows that preserving tropical forests would provide significant financial benefits for the U.S. agricultural and timber industries.

Avoided Deforestation Partners commissioned the report, "Farms Here, Forests There: Deforestation and U.S. Competitiveness in Agriculture and Timber," which was produced by David Gardiner and Associates.

Below is a statement by Doug Boucher, director of climate research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS):

"This report shows that American farmers, ranchers and timber companies would benefit greatly from stopping the destruction of tropical forests. These forests are often logged illegally to produce low-cost timber that competes with U.S. timber. Tropical forests also are cleared to provide cheap land for ranching and farming. All told, tropical forest destruction costs soy and other oilseed farmers, ranchers and timber companies in the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in lost sales.
   
"Besides the economic benefits, there is a significant environmental benefit. Clearing tropical forests accounts for about 15 percent of the world's global warming emissions, so keeping them standing would take us a significant way toward addressing climate change.

"Agriculture and timber production are now globalized industries, and American producers are competing with producers worldwide. Soybean farmers and cattle ranchers in Amazonia export their products to the same world markets as farmers and ranchers in the Midwest. This report demonstrates just how much that competition is skewed by the cheap land and cheap timber 'produced' by tropical deforestation.

"Congress should take note. When the Senate takes up the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, it must restore funding for tropical forest protection. The House included such funding in the climate bill it passed last June because it realized that preserving tropical forests is one of the cheapest ways to reduce emissions. The Senate has even more reason to include the funding now that it knows it would simultaneously help U.S. farmers and timber companies."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

SOURCE: Union of Concerned Scientists.