Deforested peatlands in Indonesian Borneo. Indonesia has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation currently. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler .
If governments commit to an international program to save forests known as REDD+, deforestation could be nearly zero in less than a decade, argues the Living Forests Report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). REDD+, which stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, is a program that would pay developing nations to preserve forests for their ability to sequester carbon. Government officials begin meeting tomorrow in Durban, South Africa for the 17th UN climate summit, and REDD+ will be among many topics discussed.
“WWF understands that these climate negotiations are complex. But we must not let the opportunity that REDD+ presents slip through our fingers. If we get this right, we can safeguard our climate and help people overcome poverty. There is too much at stake to let these talks get mired down by technicalities,” Gerald Steindlegger, Policy Director of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative, said in a press release.
WWF estimates that 55.5 million hectares (214,286 square miles) of forest will likely be lost before 2020, but an agreement today, with sufficient financing, could successfully lower deforestation to near zero by then. However, a delay in implementing REDD+ would mean an additional 69 million hectares (266,410 square miles) of forest lost between 2020 and 2030, an area larger than France, says the WWF. Estimates vary, but deforestation and forest degradation accounts for at least 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report adds that nations cannot depend on reforestation and plantations to offset deforestation emissions until 2040 at the earliest. Instead, forest protection now is vital.
“Our forests are disappearing while we sort out how to save them,” said Bruce Cabarle, Leader of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative. “This continued loss of forests will have dire consequences for our global climate, for nature and for the livelihoods of billions of people. And we know we can’t plant our way out of the problem. The message is clear—we must act now to protect the world’s forests for good or we’ll lose them forever.”
To achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, the international community would need to support REDD+ efforts to the tune of $30-53 billion annually.
Deforestation doesn’t just impact climate change. The loss of the world world’s forests are depleting global biodiversity, imperiling freshwater sources, impacting rain patterns, and threatening indigenous populations among other issues.
(10/11/2011) The 11th Rights and Resources Initiative Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change in London, which will focus on The Status and Role of Public and Private Finance to Reduce Forest Loss and Degradation. The goal of the RRI Dialogue is to examine the current state of public and private financial mechanisms for REDD+ and adaptation and contribute to developing an updated vision for the optimal design and deployment of finance to reduce forest loss and degradation – while respecting the rights and development needs of local people. RRI has partnered with Mongabay.com to present two diverging viewpoints on issues to be discussed at length at the dialogue, featuring Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (Executive Director, Tebtebba) and Scott Poynton (Executive Director, The Forest Trust).
(09/29/2011) Investors funneled $178 million into forest carbon projects intended to mitigate global climate change last year, according to a new report by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. By trading a record 30.1 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtC02e), the market saw a 48 percent rise over 2009—including a rise in private investors over non-profits as well as greater support for the global program Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD)—shows that the burgeoning market may be beginning to make good on its promise to provide funds to save forests for their ecosystem services with an initial focus on carbon.
(09/26/2011) REDD+ programs could leave some species high and dry even if its preserves the forests they call home, argues a new opinion piece in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. While the program would likely help habitat-dependent species, other important species could still vanish without additional measures to stem threats such as overexploitation and disease. While REDD+, or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, has set preserving forests for their carbon value as its primary goal, the young program has been increasingly connected to efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity. However, the new paper, argues that conservationists must not become complacent.