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Eco forestry rewards scheme 'hits problems'

By Adrian Bishop - 18 Apr 2012 9:58:51 GMT
Eco forestry rewards scheme 'hits problems'

Deforestation image via Shutterstock

Developing countries are struggling to make a new eco forestry rewards scheme work, says a new report. Of 99 countries that signed up to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) at the UN climate change meeting, 89 have 'very large or medium' problems achieving the requirements, says the study.

For REDD+ to succeed, the world's richer nations must provide more help so developing nations can measure and monitor the amount of saved greenhouse gases, according to the research just published in Environmental Science and Policy.

The idea of REDD+, which is supported by the United Nations, is to compensate countries that protect and restore their forests and manage them sustainably. As forests absorb around a third of greenhouse gases, REDD+ is a potent weapon against climate change. Mass removal of trees also causes around 20% of emissions.

The UN meeting in South Africa, agreed that there had to be accurate Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of REDD+, but that the developing countries should be responsible.

But the paper, Assessing capacities of non-Annex I countries for national forest monitoring in the context of REDD+, shows most nations are not coming up to the required standards.

Co-author Louis Verchot, who is also a climate scientist for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), says, "REDD+ is assumed to be a performance-based mechanism and its supporters need to be realistic about what developing countries can do in terms of MRV, at least at this point in time. The international community needs to commit the human and financial resources to address the gaps in MRV capacity if they want REDD+ to work."

Researchers hope that the study will focus support from the richer nations to help the developing countries to reach their MRV goals.

The biggest lack of success was reported in 49 nations, many from Africa, due to a lack of commitment in the process, a lack of monitoring capacity and remote sensing issues. Countries including China, India, Mexico and Argentina have very good abilities to check forest area change and record-keeping. Most countries found it easier to check changes in the area of forestry rather than record-keeping and measuring stock.

Those countries with small gaps to be corrected could have large areas of forest at risk, which indicates that minimal investment could bring huge benefits. Some countries had both large capacity issues and significant deforestation.

Many African nations battle against institutional problems, human issues and poor infrastructure, including weak web networking and sensing. Action from the international community could boost satellite network coverage.

Close monitoring is needed in countries with specific issues, such as forest fires in the peat and mangrove forests of South East Asia.

Another option is for the smaller countries to team up to share resources.

Developed countries with high capacities, like Australia and Norway, have a vital role to play in helping others, say the researchers.

Small countries may want to consider the option of working together to build the capacity to monitor forest-area change and assess carbon stock. Aside from capacity-building efforts from developed countries that support REDD+, such as Norway and Australia, countries with good capacities could have an important role in South-South capacity development, the report says.

CIFOR aims to increase the well-being of humans, conservation and equality through its forest research in developing countries.

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Topics: Deforestation