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Thailand

An elephant pulls a teak log in a logging cap in Pinlebu township, Sagaing, northern Myanmar, in this picture taken March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

BANGKOK, July 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Asia has a unique opportunity to fight climate change and lift many more people out of poverty if it invests more in the communities living in its forests, experts said.

More than 450 million people in the region rely on forests for income and food, but forest dwellers often struggle to make a living as rural poverty, deforestation and climate change threaten their livelihoods.

“If we truly want to sustain Asia’s forests, we need to address inequality and poverty by investing in people living in the forests,” said Tint Lwin Thaung, executive director of RECOFTC, which promotes community forestry in Asia.

Read more: To sustain its forests, Asia needs to invest in local people – experts

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Phra Somnuek Athipanyo, the abbot of Wat Khun Samut, a Buddhist temple on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand some 30km south of Bangkok, patrols the parapet inspecting his temple's defenses against the sea. ST PHOTO: NIRMAL GHOSH

Every year, from Vietnam to Bangladesh, big chunks of the shoreline are lost to the sea; damage and adaptation costs could be significant.

Just off the northern shores of the Gulf of Thailand sits a stark reminder of where many parts of Asia, and millions of residents, won't be in a matter of decades.

Read more: Retreating coastlines

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CALLS have been made for collaboration within Asean and beyond to try to limit the rise of world temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius - to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change.

The calls were made at a regional forum on climate change in Bangkok by the Asian Institute of Technology, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Asean Secretariat and the European Union.

Read more: Calls for unity to fight 'climate catastrophe'

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