Deforestation presently accounts for nearly 20 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions — a share larger than that from the global transportation sector. Given this contribution, reducing deforestation is widely seen as a key component in plans to slow climate change and a number of proposals to include forestry in a post-Kyoto climate agreement are presently on the table. Anticipating the emergence of a market for forest carbon as a result of this framework, ‘avoided deforestation’ projects are already sprouting up in tropical countries around the world. Supporters say these initiatives offer the potential to protect forests and biodiversity while simultaneously delivering benefits to rural communities that have so far been lost out while their natural resources have been plundered by developers. While avoided deforestation seems to offers great promise, developing a project that meets still emerging standards is a complex and costly endeavor. A new book, published in five languages, seeks to untangle the forest carbon market and thereby facilitate new avoided deforestation projects.
Deforestation in Madagascar.
Written by Gabriel Thoumi, formerly of the University of Michigan and currently Forestry Director for MGM International, “Emeralds on the Equator: An Avoided Deforestation Carbon Markets Strategy Manual” argues that “the business strategy for mitigating climactic disruption due to… deforestation involves creating carbon markets at the source of the problem, thereby turning an environmental liability into a financial asset, locally and globally.” Thoumi proposes four criteria to successfully bring about an avoided deforestation project: “the land dictates the rules; rural communities are the gatekeepers for a project; governments dispense rights; and businesses structure risks”.
Thoumi formulates Emeralds on the Equator based his experience working on eleven global tropical forest projects over three years as well as informal interviews with more than 350 market participants from 204 organizations including governmental agencies, for-profit businesses, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, local land conservancies, scientific organizations, and local community organizations.
Mr. Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, the former minister of environment for Indonesia, in the preface write “Gabriel’s contribution should serve and support the pioneering efforts of various parties which have begun to define the new frontier of carbon markets.”