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Norway to Spend Billions on Preserving Rainforests

Norway's prime minister has committed his country to spending more than $500 million a year to preserve the world's endangered rainforests.

The Norwegian government chief, Jens Stoltenberg, says reducing deforestation in developing countries can quickly and inexpensively reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide - the main component of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

Trees and rainforests absorb carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere and in turn release oxygen - a process opposite to the cycle of automotive and industrial pollution that has been pumping increasingly huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in recent years.

Experts say deforestation is responsible for as much as 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year.

With proper management, forest resources can be sustainable, guaranteeing steady production of wood and other forest products while preserving the forests themselves. In recent years, however, the potential revenue that rainforests represent have stripped bare large areas of forest in many developing countries.

Environmentalists in Norway greeted the Oslo government's announcement on Sunday of the new rainforest initiative on Sunday with great enthusiasm. They say they hope other wealthy countries will follow Norway's example and commit financial resources to stopping deforestation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.