Friday, August 28, 2009

Paying to keep the trees in the Amazon alive - it ain't that simple as it might look like

We talked here many times about the concept of paying landowners to keep their trees standing and not cut them down.

This idea is gaining more popularity as a tool to fight climate change and a very interesting article in the New York Times presents some of the difficulties involved with the implementation of this concept, especially in Brazil.

Here are some of the issues Elisabeth Rosenthal brings up the article ("In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand"):

1. How much money is enough to keep the trees standing? The payment strategy includes direct payments to landowners to keep forests standing but with uprising demand to the alternatives, which are mainly cleared farmland to raise soy or cattle, the price can be high. Too high. For example, the article presents José Marcolini, a farmer that is offered by an environmental group $12 per acre per a year to keep it untouched, but at the same time can get for cleared farmland here up to $1,300 an acre.

2. How to avoid paying for tree plantations? as the article explains, "one proposed version of the new United Nations plan would allow plantations of trees, like palms grown for palm oil, to count as forest, even though tree plantations do not have nearly the carbon absorption potential of genuine forest and are far less diverse in plant and animal life." This is a situation that should be avoided - the programs should be solely focused on forests because of both environmental and monetary (limited resources) reasons.

3. Clearing away the trees is often the best way to declare and ensure ownership - the article mentions that "in parts of Southeast Asia, early experiments in paying landowners for preserving forest have been hampered because it is often unclear who owns, or controls, property."

4. Need to change - We have to remember that until not too long ago, developing the Amazon was the priority and the Brazilian government encouraged settlement through homesteaders’ benefits like cheap land and housing subsidies, many of which still exist today. It means that you need to change the state of mind, believes and values of the whole country to make real changes in the way the Amazon is considered and valued by the people.

As we see there are many issues to deal with and the success of such programs is still far from being a sure thing. But nevertheless for the first time there's money in forest preservation and this is going to be a game changer this way or another.

More related posts:

Will the new Climate Bill help protecting forests or become a source of income for timber companies?

How investors can save the forests? check out the Ethical Corporation Magazine

Al Gore and Wangari Maathai calls the U.N. General Assemby to support protection of forests

Merrill Lynch is investing in forest protection

How to deal with the growing deforestation in the Amazon rain forest?

Prince Charles wants to team up with Norway to save forests

Preserving forests to fight global warming


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing