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From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
A new report says Southeast Asia’s Lower Mekong region could lose a third of its natural forests in the next 20 years. The reason for this, forestry experts say, is that governments in the area undervalue their forests. The report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature is called “Ecosystems in the Greater Mekong.” It says between 1973 and 2009, lower Mekong countries cut down almost a third of their forests to clear land for agriculture and timber. The report says Burma, Cambodia and Laos lost more than 20 percent of their forest cover. Thailand and Vietnam cleared more than 40 percent of their trees. “Core forests” have dropped from 70 percent to 20 percent of total forest area. Core forests are three-square-kilometer areas of continuous forest.
The conservation group says the rate of deforestation is increasing. It says countries risk losing a third of their remaining trees by 2030.
Geoffrey Blate is a regional adviser on ecology for the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Bangkok. He helped write the report. Over all, he says the greatest amount of forest clearing appears to have happened in the country with the most trees, Burma, also known as Myanmar. The report’s findings were based on satellite images. The findings conflict with some official estimates from the countries that were studied. Forestry experts say countries in the region fail to place enough value on their forests. They say governments look only at market prices for resources that are extracted or harvested. That does not include the biological value of forests and their ability to improve water quality in streams and rivers.