Here at ecociety we are paying close attention to developments in the run up to COP 15. One of the most important areas of negotiation involves the issue of deforestation. The UN established the Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing countries (REDD) to encourage developing nations to reduce deforestation through economic incentives. As with many aspects of climate change policy, deforestation is intimately linked with issues of equity and development. The bottom line question is who will pay for it and how much?
Yet there are more immediate issues involving REDD, particularly over how to define forest cover. The latest controversy surrounds a ten-word clause that would allow countries to cut down virgin/primary forests, replace them with “productive” tree plantations such as Palm Oil trees, and still count those areas as preserved forests under REDD. Environmentalists argue that replacing virgin forests with plantations has a significant positive carbon impact and thus should not be counted as preserved forest land.
The provision detailing “safeguards against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations” was removed from the draft text by the EU with the support of several Congo basin African nations following the climate talks in Bangkok last month. The issue become a focus in the lead up to this week’s climate talks in Barcelona but as yet is unresolved.
We’ll be looking for any developments in the REDD treaty text out of Barcelona and will give updates here, stay tuned.
“Rainforest treaty ‘fatally flawed'” 26 October, 2009 The Independent