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Bonds for trees programme announced

By Dale Kiefer - 18 Sep 2011 22:1:1 GMT
Bonds for trees programme announced

The world's precious tropical forests are under constant threat and financial incentives may be the best way to protect them, according to a new coalition of conservation groups. Announced by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) and the Global Canopy Programme (GCP), the initiative calls for governments to enhance forest conservation efforts by purchasing bonds to help fund existing conservation commitments and goals.

The coalition views the bonds as a valuable tool that wealthier nations and private-sector contributors may use to increase their support for forest conservation, especially in less-industrialized countries, where public-sector financing of conservation efforts is often problematic. The coalition hopes its bonds initiative will allow governments to close the gap between financial commitments already in place, and efforts on the ground aimed at preserving the world's dwindling, irreplaceable tropical forests. The issue extends far beyond concerns about preservation of delicate habitats and vulnerable, unique species of both plants and animals.

"The alarming rate of forest loss around the globe is releasing billions of tonnes of CO2 and destroying irreplaceable biodiversity," says Don Kanak, advisor to WWF's Forest and Climate Initiative. Kanak, who is also Chairman of Prudential Corporation Asia, adds: "The world needs to increase forest finance by tens of billions of dollars in the current decade just to halve this forest loss." The announcement of the initiative has been timed to precede the upcoming United Nations climate change talks, scheduled for October in Panama, and for December in South Africa.

The preservation of tropical forests is considered a crucial component of multilateral efforts to prevent further escalation of CO2 levels, which are tied to global climate change. The ancient forests are worth saving for numerous other reasons, of course. "Tropical forests are critical natural capital that provide ecosystem goods and services that underpin the world's wealth and human wellbeing, supporting climate, water, energy, food, health and livelihood securities at local to global scales," says Andrew Mitchell, Executive Director of Global Canopy Programme.

Noting that the international bond market is worth nearly $100 trillion, conservationists see bonds as another weapon to wield in the fight against global deforestation. "Forest bonds are a tool for countries, multilateral development banks, and private financial institutions to tap into the international bond market..." says Sean Kidney, Chair of the Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused NGO. "Time is short...We can use such programs to create jobs and give people better opportunities than felling trees."

Top Image Credit: Rainforest Canopy © Ralph Loesche