Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
||It has been suggested that United Nations REDD Programme be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since February 2013.|
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is a set of steps designed to use market and financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Its objective is to reduce greenhouse gases.
"Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation" implies a distinction between the two activities. The process of identifying the two is what raises questions about how to measure each within the REDD mechanism, therefore their distinction is vital. Deforestation is the permanent removal of forests and withdrawal of land from forest use. Forest degradation refers to negative changes in the forest area that limit its production capacity.
Development of a REDD mechanism has progressed significantly since 1995 with the set up of a UN programme and various capacity building and research activities. Projects are also being trialled through national government programmes and the private sector. REDD+ is increasingly likely to be included in a post-2012 international climate agreement, yet many challenges are still to be solved. How will the REDD+ mechanism link to existing national development strategies? How can forest communities and indigenous peoples participate in the design, monitoring and evaluation of national REDD+ programmes? How will REDD+ be funded, and how will countries ensure that benefits are distributed equitably among all those who manage the forests? Finally, how will the amount of carbon stored and sequestrated as a result of REDD+ be monitored?
REDD is sometimes presented as an "offset" scheme of the carbon markets and thus, would produce carbon credits. Carbon offsets are “emissions-saving projects or programmes” that in theory would “compensate” for the polluters’ emissions. The “carbon credits” generated by these projects could then be used by industrialised governments and corporations to meet their targets and/or to be traded within the carbon markets.  However this perspective on REDD+ is contested and hotly debated among economists, scientists and negotiators. Recent studies[when?] indicate such an offset approach based on projects would significantly increase the transaction costs associated to REDD+  and would actually be the weakest alternative for a national REDD+ architecture as regards effectiveness, efficiency, its capacity to deliver co benefits (like development, biodiversity or human rights) and its overal political legitimacy.
In clarify], estimates for deforestation and forest degradation were shown to account for 20-25% of greenhouse gas emissions, higher than the transportation sector. Recent work shows that the combined contribution of deforestation, forest degradation and peatland emissions accounts for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as the transportation sector. Even with these new numbers it is increasingly accepted that mitigation of global warming will not be achieved without the inclusion of forests in an international regime. As a result, it is expected to play a crucial role in a future successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.[
In the 1997 global climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, policies related to deforestation and degradation were excluded due to the complexity of measurements and monitoring for the diverse ecosystems and land use changes. This exclusion resulted in the formation of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. Participant nations included Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and other forest nations.
In 2005, at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP-11), the Coalition for Rainforest Nations initiated a request to consider 'reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries.' The matter was referred to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). The United States challenged the proposal but failed in its attempts.
Later, at the 2007 Bali UNFCCC meeting (COP-13), an agreement was reached on “the urgent need to take further meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”. The deadline for reaching an agreement on the specifics of an international REDD mechanism, at least as regards to its being implemented in the short and medium term, was set to be the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP-15), which was held in Copenhagen in December 2009.
REDD activities are undertaken by national or local governments, NGOs, the private sector, or any combination of these. A number of NGOs, development agencies, research institutes and international organizations support developing countries that wish to engage in REDD activities. The World Banks's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the UN-REDD Programme, and Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative are such examples. The genuine actors of REDD, however, will be the populations whose livelihoods derive from forests. Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities will be the front liners of REDD, and the success of REDD activities will largely depend on their engagement.
There are many corporative and financial lobbies behind the push for REDD. Currently, it does not include the possibility of offsetting emissions from developed countries.
The REDD"+" is more than just avoided deforestation. It is tied to measurable and verifiable reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as well as sustainable management of forests, conservation of forest carbon stocks and enhancement of carbon stocks.
This is because a REDD strategy need not refer solely to the establishment of national parks or protected areas; by the careful design of rules and guidelines, REDD could include land use practices such as shifting cultivation by indigenous communities and reduced-impact-logging, provided sustainable rotation and harvesting cycles can be demonstrated. Some argue that this is opening the door to logging operations in primary forests, displacement of local populations for “conservation”, increase of tree plantations. According to some critics, REDD+ is another extension of green capitalism, subjecting the forests and its inhabitants to new ways of expropriation and enclosure at the hands of polluting companies and market speculators.
For example, at the global level, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) – an intergovernmental body that includes 60 countries of producers and consumers of wood in tropical forests and the European Union, has launched a thematic program on REDD and environmental services with an initial funding of US$3.5 million from Norway. In addition, the 45th session of the ITTO Council held in November 2009, recommended that efforts relating REDD+ should focus on promoting “sustainable forest management”. In this regard, this sector’s lobbying seeks above all to include forest extraction inside REDD under the guise of “sustainable management” in order to benefit from carbon markets while maintaining business-as-usual.
On the other side, Indigenous Peoples are an important side of the actors scenario that most of the times is ignored. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) was explicit at the Bali climate negotiations in 2007: "REDD/REDD+ will not benefit Indigenous Peoples, but in fact will result in more violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agricultural practices, destroy biodiversity and cultural diversity and cause social conflicts. Under REDD/REDD+, states and carbon traders will take more control over our forests."  Indigenous Peoples protested 2008 against the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues final report on climate change and a paragraph that endorsed REDD, which was captured in a video titled "the 2nd May Revolt". 
Some grassroots organisations are already working to develop REDD activities with communities and developing benefit-sharing mechanisms to ensure REDD funds reach rural communities as well as governments. Examples of these include Plan Vivo projects in Mexico, Mozambique and Cameroon. 
Active international organizations
REDD has received strong support and push from international organizations and IFIs (International Financial Institutions).
The World Bank presently plays an important role in the progression of REDD activities. As one of the financial contributors for the REDD program, the World Bank has created a $300 million fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). So far small grants of $200,000 have been disbursed. This fund is aimed towards initiating REDD activities in developing countries. In addition, another World Bank facility, the Carbon Partnership Facility (CPF), is expected to be used in areas like the power sectors, transportation, urban development and other areas related to energy efficiency where greenhouse gases are generated.
Although the World Bank declares its commitment to fight against climate change, many civil society organisations and grassroots movements around the world view with scepticism the processes being developed under these funds. Among some of the most worrying reasons are the weak (or inexistent) consultation processes with local communities; the lack of criteria to determine when a country is ready to implement REDD projects (readiness); the negative impacts such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity (due to fast agreements and lack of planning); the lack of safeguards to protect Indigenous Peoples' rights; and the lack of regional policies to stop deforestation. During the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) strong civil society and social movements coalitions formed a strong front to fight the World Bank out of the climate 
The UNDP, UNEP and FAO set up in 2008 the UN-REDD Programme, a partnership aimed at assisting developing countries in addressing certain measures needed in order to effectively participate in the REDD mechanism. These measures include capacity development, governance, engagement of Indigenous Peoples and technical needs. The first initial set of nine countries were Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia. The Programme now (October 2012) counts 44 partners countries, 16 of which are implementing or finalizing national UN-REDD Programmes, and 16 receiving small funding (on average USD 100,000 each) and technical support to kick start or complement a variety of national REDD readiness activities <http://www.un-redd.org/Partner_Countries/tabid/102663/Default.aspx/ref>. The Programme also ensures overall guidance through its global activities to support national actions, on Measuring, Verifying and Reporting (MRV) systems, engagement of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities; support to credible, inclusive and transparent national governance systems; safeguards and multiple benefits from REDD for livelihoods and ecosystems.
However, among other exclusions, the definition of forests currently adopted by the UN climate change convention contains a large loophole: it fails to distinguish between natural forests and plantations, including eucalyptus,pines, acacias, oil palm, and others. Biodiverse, natural forests could therefore be destroyed and replaced with plantations, but this would not be treated as “deforestation” because – according to the definition - the area would still be covered by trees. The lack of a clear distinction is no accident. Defining a forest simply in terms of tree cover - rather than complex ecosystems and the livelihoods of peoples interacting with them – has long been used as a cover for the expansion of industrial-scale plantations. The most plausible explanation, arguably, is that commercial interests take precedence over environmental and social objectives in the shaping of REDD policy. [www.wrm.org.uy]
REDD has been well received by national governments of both developing and developed countries. Several developing countries have already developed their national REDD+ plans or strategies (UN-REDD and FPPF, 2012) and remarkably were already achieved by key countries like Brazil(UNEP, 2011) and Indonesia. At the 2007 Bali Conference, the Norwegian government announced their International Climate and Forests Initiative, which provided $1 billion towards the Brazilian REDD scheme () and $500 million towards the creation and implementation of national-based, REDD activities in the nation of Tanzania. In addition, the Government of Norway and United Kingdom contributed $200 million towards the Congo Basin Forest Fund to aid forest conservation actives in Central Africa.
In 2009, the Government of Finland and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations signed a $17 million partnership agreement to provide tools and methods for multi-purpose forest inventories, REDD+ monitoring and climate change adaptation in five pilot countries - Ecuador, Peru, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia - for sustainable forest management. As part of this programme, the Government of Tanzania will soon complete the country’s first comprehensive forest inventory to assess its forest resources including the size of the carbon stock stored within its forests. A forest soil carbon monitoring program to estimate soil carbon stock, using both survey and modelling-based methods, has also been undertaken.
Australia has joined the efforts to promote REDD mechanisms. Their $200 million International Forest Carbon Initiative focused on developing REDD activities in the region, i.e., in areas like Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The governments of Spain and Denmark have recently become donors to the UN-REDD Programme.
In 2010, national governments of developing and developed countries joined efforts to create the Interim REDD+ Partnership () as means to enhance implementation of early action and foster fast start finance for REDD+ actions.
A number of questions are being discussed and will inform the decisions on REDD at the upcoming 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. They include:
The structure of funding mechanisms
Tying REDD into a broader system of carbon trading could allow developed countries or private firms to offset their own emissions and meet emissions reductions targets. However, some developing countries, such as Brazil and China, maintain that developed countries must commit to real emissions reductions, independent of any offset mechanism.
Setting reference levels to measure the reduction in emissions
Will it be based on current emissions levels or historical deforestation rates, a business-as-usual scenario? Will countries with different forest covers and historic deforestation rates hold different interests in the way the reference levels are constructed? Involving countries with high forest covers and low historic deforestation rates will be necessary to reduce perverse incentives.
Distribution of benefits
How can the benefits from REDD be distributed to forest communities in a just, equitable way that minimizes capture of the benefits by national governments or local elites? 
- Participation of Indigenous peoples and Forest-Dependent Communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of REDD activities, and respect for their human rights
- Strategies to prevent "carbon leakage", caused by the displacement of deforestation to other areas
- Achieving multiple benefits, for example the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services (such as watersheds), and social benefits (for example income and improved forest governance).
IF REDD+ becomes a source of carbon credits
- The availability of a large supply of potentially cheap carbon credits could provide an avenue for companies in the developed world to simply purchase REDD credits without providing meaningful emission reductions at home.
- Large number of carbon credits could swamp developing carbon markets. However, they could also facilitate ambitious emissions targets in a post-Kyoto agreement.
- Putting a commercial value on forests neglects the spiritual value they hold for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
- The rise of "carbon cowboys" - unscrupulous entrepreneurs who attempt to acquire rights to carbon in rainforest by signing indigenous communities to unfair contracts, often with a view to on-selling the rights to investors for a quick profit. In 2012 an Australian businessman operating in Peru was revealed to have signed 200-year contracts with an Amazon tribe, the Yagua, many members of which are illiterate, giving him a 50 per cent share in their carbon resources. The contracts allow him to establish and control timber projects and palm oil plantations in Yagua rainforest.
If REDD+ is project-based and does not follow a national approach as mandated by COP16:
- There are risks that the local inhabitants and the communities that live in the forests, will be bypassed and they won't be consulted and so they won't actually receive any revenues 
- Some projects are unaccountable and dodgy companies are taking advantage of the low governance.
If REDD+ is designed and implemented inadequately
- There is no consensus on a definition for forest degradation.
The risk is that baselines are set unrealistically by developing country authorities and it's not actually accurate around the forest's carbon stocks.
- Fair distribution of REDD benefits will not be achieved without a prior reform in forest governance and more secure tenure systems in many countries.
- In 2007, at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Bali (COP-13) an agreement was reached called the Bali Action Plan. As defined, its aims are directed toward forest conservation, sustainable forest management and the enhancement of carbon stocks.
- REDD-plus calls for activities with serious implications directed towards the local communities, indigenous people and forests which relate to reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation. Therefore this will involve enhancing existing forests and increasing forest cover. In order to meet these objectives, policies need to address enhancement of carbon stocks by providing funding and investments in these areas.
- In 2009, at COP-15 in Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009 was reached, noting in section 6 the recognition of the crucial role of REDD and REDD-plus and the need to provide positive incentives for such actions by enabling the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries. The Accord goes on to note in section 8 that the collective commitment by developed countries for new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, will approach USD 30 billion for the period 2010 - 2012.
For an effective REDD+ mechanism
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The complexity of the issue could be better reflected in the way the question of agriculture is approached for the REDD+ mechanism at the international level. Although intensification – in other words the increase in productivity per hectare - is a key variable for long-term forest conservation, the problem cannot be resolved by this alone. The scientific findings previously presented all indicate that there is no simple, unequivocal relationship between changes in agricultural systems and tropical deforestation. However, the major trend to follow undoubtedly remains the increase in yields, without however basing this increase primarily on the provision of chemical inputs that increase the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions.
One solution could theoretically lie in the rapid dissemination of a type of intensive agriculture in certain countries or regions – notwithstanding numerous problematic consequences, for example geographical specialisation implying a restrictive approach to the conservation of natural resources for the developing world. This option tends to maximise use of favourable agricultural conditions in certain regions, in order to indirectly preserve other countries or regions with less favourable conditions (a strategy known as “common agricultural pools”). It remains to be determined how a REDD+ mechanism could represent an incentive for this global strategy, in the sense that areas that are unsuited to agriculture would see an economic advantage in reaping the benefits of REDD+ and minimising their agricultural areas, and vice versa for other regions.
Necessary public support policies
Public support policies are necessary. This may be understood in at least four different ways.
a) Fostering changes in agricultural technologies First, it means that we must not count on spontaneous changes in technologies that may contribute to forest conservation objectives. Farmers show a strong tendency to adopt extensive systems when land is abundant in order to compensate for the scarcity of other factors of production such as labour and capital. Consequently, counting on the spontaneous innovation and adoption of new agricultural technologies implies accepting an increase in clearing while forest resources are abundant, and waiting until this resource is almost depleted before farmers attempt to remedy the problem! A certain number of macro tools must therefore be implemented, for example management of the industry, taxation applied to the agricultural sector, or the creation of an area network with agencies responsible for disseminating technologies among their potential users.
b) Harmonising sectoral public policies The second way to interpret the need for public support policies amounts to accepting the importance of harmonising measures that have a direct or indirect impact on forest cover. These are the “forest-related policies”, which include all sectors of activity that have a significant impact: trade, taxation, infrastructure, regional control, and programmes encouraging human migration, etc. A strategy that is limited to just one sector of activity – here, agriculture – and not harmonised with the other sectors of activity, such as the construction of road infrastructure, would at best produce mixed, temporary results, and at worst be doomed to failure. Admittedly, some would argue that the “price signal” a carbon market would produce is itself capable of guiding decisions favourable to reducing emissions and therefore the harmonisation of policies if this harmonisation will lead to the objective being met. This idea is somewhat disconnected from reality, however, and political economy as well as governance issues must also be part of the analysis.
c) Adopting the PES principle The third way to interpret public support policies is central. Indeed, some major opportunities exist for giving the principle of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) the position it could well deserve in the future. The beneficiaries of an environmental service establish voluntary contracts with the providers of this service (who control the natural resource) and condition their rewards on the maintenance of the service. In the case in question, PES would consist in measures aimed at conditioning support for the adoption of sound agricultural technologies on the absence of excessive forest clearing on nearby land. Farmers and landowners would thus benefit from the possibility of using technologies capable of increasing their production and income, and at the same time the adverse consequences of forest clearing could be minimised. In other words, the principle is to benefit from REDD+ funding for an ecosystem service (climate regulation through CO2 emissions reductions), in order to foster an agricultural revolution that would serve the interests of poor populations suffering from undernourishment on the one hand, and on the other, would avoid losing precious time in meeting the food challenge (substantially higher global food production by 2050). PES would therefore make it possible to set up contracts aimed at covering the costs of investment and of the transition towards new agricultural technologies.
d) Acting on global demand The fourth way to interpret the need for support policies refers to the issue of demand for agricultural products. When production increases, demand also tends to rise in response to lower prices. This is known as the “rebound effect”. It is based on the behaviour of consumers and their tendency to increase their consumption when purchasing power enables them to do so. It seems there are few remedies to this, since it is undoubtedly unrealistic to restrict consumers in their consumption choices. It is sometimes suggested that action should focus on diets throughout the world, in both developing and developed countries in order to bring demand per capita into line globally, for example by attempting to reduce the share of dairy products and meat. Another alternative envisaged consists in setting up systems that would subject agricultural products to a kind of tax based on their carbon content but the implementation of such a system is still considered to be highly problematic.
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- International Alliance of Forest People as organisation intrested in policing areas against illegal logging, ...
- International Alliance of Forest People as organisation intrested in policing areas against illegal logging, ... 2
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- UNFCCC REDD Web Platform
- The REDD Desk - A Collaborative Resource for REDD Readiness
- REDD+ Partnership, including financing database
- Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, hosted by the World Bank
- New method for interpreting satellite imagery for REDD, developed by Gregory Asner
- UN-REDD Programme
- The Plan Vivo System: A framework for Community REDD+ schemes
- Code REDD: A campaign to promote REDD+ projects and the corporations who have pledged support
- List of REDD projects in Indonesia
- Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative
- Land Change Modeling for REDD blog
- REDD-Monitor - Critical analysis and news about REDD
- REDD-plus - News Views and Analysis on REDD-plus
- REDD+ - The Online Library - read everything about Deforestation, Sustainable Forest Management, Illegal Logging and a lot more...
- No REDD, A Reader
- Carbon Trade Watch
- Is REDD the New Green? Indigenous Groups Resist Market-Based Forestry Scheme - video report by Democracy Now!
- What's happened to Guyana's rainforest deal with Norway?
- The Carbon Cowboy - report by Liam Bartlett and Stephen Rice 60 Minutes (Australia)