This is what happened in Honduras between 2013 and 2016, the pine weevil, a beetle the size of a drop of water attacked an area equivalent to 1 million soccer fields in forests (500,000 hectares). This represents 25% of the countries’ pine forest. Sadly, 100 million trees were destroyed. The affected area represents the loss of coverage that would have occurred in Honduras’ pine forest in the next 110 years with the current deforestation rates; contributing around 200 million tons of CO2. The pine forest is located around highly populated areas; it is essential in water production, which is currently threatened by deforestation.
How do we get to this catastrophic scenario? Five years of continuous drought affecting Central America due to the El Niño phenomenon and the difficulties of managing an extensive area of forests created the ideal conditions for the plague to attack. Unfortunately, it is not the first time this can occur; the weevil attacks cycles related to years of intense drought. These attacks occur every few decades; however, due to climate change, the frequency seems to be intensifying.
March 21st marks the international day of forests, and this scenario presents the need to find long-term comprehensive solutions that allow tackling the problem. Key actions are fundamental to address it:
1. Create a forecast of the plague occurrence.
2. Generate preventive action to promote resilient forests (stronger and healthier forests).
3. Involve local actors (communities, indigenous populations, local authorities, private entities, etc.) that allow responding in a faster and anticipated manner to the problem.
The IDB Group propel such actions through the project “Sustainable Forests Management” to promote the recovery of the affected areas attacked recently by the southern pine weevil and to set the conditions to avoid a recurrence with similar impacts.
22% of forests are in Latin America, and the forestry sector plays a fundamental role in the climate change compromises framed in the Paris Agreement and the National Determine Contributions. It is necessary to take care of our forests since they are the most critical element to adapt to climate change. Good forest management and proper governance are activities that we have to enhance to ensure the permanence of our forests and therefore accomplishment of the Paris Agreement. The IDB Group supports various strategic projects where it is vital to maintaining a resilient role in climate change.