Prince Charles has called for “wartime urgency” to protect the rainforests.

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The prince – founder of The Prince’s Rainforest Project which seeks to find solutions to deforestation – was speaking at a dinner last night (10.09.08) when he made the appeal.

The prince told guests: “It is no exaggeration to say that rainforests are the world’s lifebelt. They act as giant global utilities, providing essential public services to humanity on a vast scale. They are the world’s air conditioning system and also help to store the largest body of flowing water on the planet – water which is essential to grow food for the world’s growing population.

“The consequences of such dramatic change are huge, even in the medium term with hundreds of millions of people displaced leading to security issues which will dwarf what we have witnessed in recent years and result in unprecedented geopolitical and economic upheaval.

“This is why I often use the analogy of war because I fear we are engaged in a battle for our very survival. We must mobilise ourselves, indeed the whole world, with that real sense of wartime urgency and resolve to act together.”

Charles warned that stopping deforestation – which he estimated is occurring at the rate of approximately one football pitch every four seconds – will be the most cost-effective way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming.

The Princes Rainforest Project was set up last year to help conserve the world’s rainforests.