What is REDD+?
REDD+ stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. Developing countries would receive results-based payments for results-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading cause of global warming, responsible for about 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions (4th AR of IPCC 2007), which makes the loss and depletion of forests a major issue for climate change. Eighty percent of the Earth’s above-ground terrestrial carbon and forty percent of below-ground terrestrial carbon is in forests. In addition to the large contribution of deforestation and forest degradation to global emissions, combating both has been identified as one of the most cost-effective ways to lower emissions.
Currently, there appears to be a consensus that the issue of deforestation and forest degradation must be effectively tackled as it would otherwise limit the options available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations and increases in temperature to acceptable levels. Any reduction in the rate of deforestation and forest degradation has the benefit of avoiding a significant source of carbon emissions and reducing other environmental and social problems associated with deforestation.
In addition to mitigating climate change, stopping deforestation and forest degradation and supporting sustainable forest management conserves water resources and prevents flooding, reduces run-off, controls soil erosion, reduces river siltation, protects fisheries and investments in hydropower facilities, preserves biodiversity and preserves cultures and traditions. With all that at stake it is clear what has to happen. With all the services that forests provide both to humanity and the natural world, there is now widespread understanding of a simple yet profound fact—that forests are more important left standing, than cut.