Monday, November 9, 2009

Is REDD going bad? Is it going to enable conversion of natural forests into industrial plantations?

Last month we had a 3-part series on the potential and risks of forest-based carbon credits following the growing discussion about the Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD) mechanism. Now it looks like the risks part should to be updated.

Bloomberg reported about a proposal that was made during the climate talks in Bangkok last month didn’t include wording to protect natural forests from being used to cultivate managed woodlands. In other words, carbon credits will be given also to those who wish to convert large-scale natural forests into industrial plantations.

According to, the provision, which included safeguards against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations, was removed the negotiating text during the final session at climate talks in Bangkok. The European Union, backed by Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Congo Basin countries, blocked reinstatement of the conversion safeguard, despite strong requests to do so from Brazil, India, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway, and more than a dozen other countries.

Environmentalists say that without the provision, forestry companies could receive REDD payments for logging tropical forests and replacing them with single-species plantations, which are biologically impoverished and store less carbon relative to natural forests.

Some observers described this move as a tactic one and were quite sure this provision, which included "the words “against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations,” will be added eventually to whatever proposal will hopefully will be approved in Copenhagen next month.

In the meantime, the talks which ended Barcelona didn't provide any encouraging signs about it as REDD-Monitor reports today. It quotes Roman Czebiniak, political advisor on climate change and forests for Greenpeace International, who told SolveClimate that “Right now, we have a pretty worthless safeguard and no rules to implement it, at a time when we need strong safeguards and strong rules are needed.”

Zebiniak remains optimistic that safeguards and monitoring could still be inserted into a REDD agreement, even after Copenhagen, and we also keep our fingers crossed that this mechanism, which as we reported last month has a promising potential, won't becme worthless because of political agendas and lack of will to make sure it will benefit the environment and not just couple of big forestry companies.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

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