Deforestation in Latin America, especially in the Amazon basin, is a major source of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming. Protected areas play a vital role in minimizing forest loss and in supplying key environmental services, including carbon sequestration and rainfall regulation, which mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change amid a rising tide of economic development in the region. The area of protected forest has expanded rapidly since 1980 to cover one-fifth of Latin America and more than two-fifths of Amazonia, a region whose rain forest captures some 40 percent of Latin America's carbon emissions. The reserve sector has traditionally suffered from severe underfunding, but the possibility of new resources being generated through financial compensation for "reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation" (REDD) or "avoided deforestation" under a new Kyoto protocol after 2012 could help strengthen the environmental and social roles of protected areas. However, a number of major implementation and governance challenges will need to be addressed
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