Without safeguards to protect natural forests from conversion to plantations and industrial logging, REDD may fail to deliver promised reductions in emissions, warns a coalition of activist groups.
Members of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA) say that the latest version of the UNFCCC’s text for REDD promotes “sustainable forest management” (SFM) over protection of primary forests. ECA is concerned that the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes SFM could leave forests open to industrial logging.
“The EU is introducing logging language into the text,” said Peter Wood of Global Witness in a statement. “If we don’t change direction now, we won’t end up with an agreement that reduces emissions from deforestation and degradation, we’ll end up with an agreement that enables logging.”
“The text released today contains no explicit wording to protect intact natural forests,” added Peg Putt of the Wilderness Society. “People around the world are expecting REDD monies to protect tropical forests, not destroy them; and to reduce emissions, not increase them.”
ECA’s analysis of the text found it fails to include “protecting intact natural forests”:
The expectation that a REDD mechanism will actually protect intact natural forests as huge carbon stores, repositories of biodiversity, and providers of ecosystems services, will not be met. Instead of prioritizing protecting intact natural forests, the introduction of industrial scale logging into such forests would be funded by REDD monies. The mechanism would thus be funding the introduction of a highly emissive activity under a perverse claim that such logging has been made less emissive than it may otherwise have been.
Parties must include a specific provision for “protecting intact natural forests” and make this a REDD priority and insist that REDD does not fund the introduction of emissive logging (industrial scale logging) or plantation conversion.
Noting that while there are less than two weeks of negotiations left before the UNFCCC Copenhagen meeting, ECA says there is still time to include strong provisions for protecting natural forests in the text.
“Nine countries, including Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Fiji, Soloman Islands, Serbia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Paraguay have signed a public pledge to make forest protection central to the REDD agreement,” stated a release from ECA.
“To restore the original intent of REDD, parties must add a clear definition of forests that does not allow for the conversion of rainforests and peatlands to plantations,” said Bill Barclay of Rainforest Action Network. “We have to get REDD right if Copenhagen is going to succeed in reducing global emissions. This language fails that test.”
ECA also reports that the current text does not include wording to ensure recognition of indigenous rights.
ECA members include Global Witness, Humane Society International, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation Norway, The Rainforest Foundation U.K., Wetlands International, and The Wilderness Society.
REDD is a U.N.-backed program that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and degradation by compensating tropical countries for protecting their forests. REDD is expected be a hot topic of discussion at climate talks this December in Copenhagen. Supporters say the mechanism could help bridge a negotiating impasse between industrialized countries and the developing world while offering a cost-effective means to slow climate change and conserve biodiversity.