REDD could trigger bias in conservation finance towards carbon-rich ecosystems
REDD could trigger bias in conservation funding towards carbon-rich ecosystems
Rhett Butler, mongabay.com
June 12, 2008
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism proposed as a means to fight global warming and protect forests may leave some ecosystems at risk to development argue researchers in an editorial published in the journal Science.
Lera Miles of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Valerie Kapos of Cambridge University say that new emphasis on the carbon stocks of ecosystems may cause conservation funds — including those generated through REDD — to flow away from habitats that may be high in biodiversity but low in carbon density such as savannas, grasslands and wetlands. Development pressure — displaced from carbon-rich tropical forests and peatlands in high deforestation countries — would then fall disproportionately on these ecosystems and in countries who are not part of the carbon offsets scheme like those who presently have low deforestation rates. In effect, REDD could trigger a bias in conservation finance.
“Land use change, mostly deforestation, accounts for 18-25% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions,” said Miles. “We support the initiative to conserve forests, which will help to address this growing problem as well as maintain valuable habitats; however, we are concerned about potential unintended negative impacts on some ecosystems.”
Will these guys be out of luck under a carbon trading regime? Miles and Kapos argue that ecosystems with low amounts of above ground biomass could suffer from neglect or worse — outright exploitation from “leakage” resulting from conversion of carbon-rich systems — under a REDD mechanism for carbon offsets.
“If forests are protected through REDD without addressing the underlying causes of forest clearance, such as increasing demand for food, then some clearance of natural ecosystems will simply shift to other areas and different habitats will be destroyed.”
The authors suggest that a “shift in the focus of conservation investment may be needed to counteract these potential side effects of REDD,” according to a statement from Cambridge.
“Currently, much conservation investment is focused on species-rich tropical forests,” said Kapos. “A successful REDD mechanism would direct far more funds to tropical forests than are currently available for biodiversity conservation. We suggest that in such a scenario, strategies for conservation investment will need urgent re-thinking.”
Lera Miles and Valerie Kapos (2008). Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation: Global Land-Use Implications. 13 JUNE 2008 VOL 320 SCIENCE