The future of the planet depends on its forests


As Copenhagen - and a promised new climate deal – rushes towards us a rallying cry has been issued by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) who say “conservation of world’s forests key to planet’s survival.”

This concise statement of intent very neatly sums up a background set of objectives that are cloaked in complexity. And it’s a complexity that’s becoming still more entangled as we don’t just have REDD to contend with… but REDD-plus too.

The differences are slight but important. While REDD concerned itself with the tactics for reducing emissions by funding rainforest protection, REDD-plus also includes “carbon enhancement” techniques such as tree planting. It’s a train of thought that's slowly gathering momentum by all accounts.

The report, “Investing in REDD-plus”, released today seems to show some agreement as Stewart Maginnis, Head of the Forest Programme for IUCN, says: “Consensus amongst disparate stakeholders in the forest sector is rare.”

picture of rainforest deforestation

Global deforestation is to blame for approximately 17 % of greenhouse gas emissions

© Dan Ryan

More than 100 stakeholders have been involved in this collaborative initiative facilitated by TFD to build an effective international mechanism for tackling the climate, community and biodiversity issues associated with deforestation.

Maginnis continues: “Today’s recommendations provide a timely roadmap for the financing of forest-related carbon dioxide emission strategies and show that REDD-plus can combat climate change in a cost-effective way while generating crucial, additional benefits for indigenous peoples, local communities and biodiversity.”

Of course, all REDD schemes still suffer from their critics that revolve mainly around how they will be funded, opportunities for corruption and the rights of indigenous people. But REDD-plus should be seen as a tool to address the causes of deforestation at a country-specific level and as such may have the ability to confront these criticisms head-on.

As we saw yesterday from the remarkable series of photographs by Daniel Beltra deforestation is an ongoing threat so clarity of message is vital as we race towards the deadline for a new climate deal.