Here in Cancun, at the start of the second week of climate change negotiations, forest watchers are cautiously optimistic that the Conference of the Parties (COP) will adopt a decision on REDD-plus that would provide added impetus to the protection, sustainable management and restoration of the world’s forests, writes Carole Saint-Laurent, IUCN’s Senior Forest Policy Adviser.
Mexican President Calderon’s impassioned speech at Forest Day yesterday made it clear that Mexico sees this as a priority. There is a conference “non-paper”, which includes a section on REDD-plus and could form the basis for a COP decision.
REDD-plus stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
A key outstanding issue continues to be whether the application of social, environmental and governance safeguards should be discretionary or whether it should be monitored, reported upon and verified.
While the negotiations are of course the main game in town, the gathering of so many delegates and the huge array of events are creating their own buzz. Two words that are popping up everywhere are “landscapes” and “restoration.” For many years IUCN and its partners have been promoting an approach called Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR). This is about bringing people together to restore an agreed optimal package of forest goods and services that meet their ecological, social and economic objectives. In the current climate change negotiations, FLR falls under “enhancement of carbon stocks,” which is part of REDD-plus.
IUCN and our partners have begun mapping the extraordinary potential for restoration of lost forests and degraded landscapes. We have found that an estimated 1.5 billion hectares worldwide of deforested and/or degraded forest lands offer opportunities for restoration. That’s bigger than Canada! With this comes huge potential to not only sequester large volumes of carbon but also to help lift people out of poverty and reduce the vulnerability of rural people and ecosystems.
Deforested and degraded landscapes can be restored. In countries as diverse as Mexico, Mali and Moldova and many others – communities, governments and institutions have embarked on ambitious restoration programmes that are restoring forests while benefiting people, biodiversity and the climate.
We know how to restore forest landscapes. We know where to do it. So why aren’t we doing more?