The FAO’s 2010 Global Forest Resource Assessment reports that forests cover a total of 4 billion hectares worldwide, equivalent to 31% of the total land area. Despite this figure, the world’s forests are disappearing. Between 1990 and 2000 there was a net loss of 8.3 million hectares per year, and the following decade, up to 2010, there was a net loss of 6.2 million hectares per year. Although the rate of loss has slowed, it remains very high, with the vast majority occurring in tropical regions.
Aside from the devastating effects tropical forest loss has on biodiversity and forest-dependent communities, a major consequence of deforestation and forest degradation is the release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Forests provide vast carbon sinks that when destroyed emit CO2 into the atmosphere, either by burning or degradation of organic matter. CO2 is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and the primary component of anthropogenic emissions. The conversion of forests to other land uses is responsible for around 10% of net global carbon emissions. Solving the problem of deforestation is a prerequisite for any effective response to climate change.
Some background: Forests and Climate Change
Degradation and deforestation of the world’s tropical forests are cumulatively responsible for about 10% of net global carbon emissions. Therefore, tackling the destruction of tropical forests is core to any concerted effort to combat climate change. Traditional approaches to halting tropical forest loss have typically been unsuccessful, as can be seen from the fact that deforestation and forest degradation continue unabated.
What is climate change?
Climate change is caused directly or indirectly by human activity that changes the composition of the global atmosphere and is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
What causes climate change?
More greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and sends it back to earth. These gases occur naturally and keep the earth at a temperature that allows life to thrive.
However, human activities such as the use of fossil fuels, are releasing more GHGs into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the main anthropogenic (manmade) GHG emitted.
As GHGs accumulate in the atmosphere, more heat is trapped and the temperature increases. This contributes to global warming which brings about changes in our climate.
Forests mitigate climate change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated that the forestry sector contributes to 17.4% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2004. Most of the 17.4% comes from the removal of forests.
Forests as a carbon sink
Forests mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees take in carbon dioxide to make their food and build new plant cells. This intake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere makes forests a carbon sink. The removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is also termed ‘carbon sequestration’. We can support the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing forest areas, planting more trees and by providing a healthy environment for trees to regenerate.
Forests as a carbon reservoir
Because plants use carbon dioxide to build their plant cells, forests are like a big container of carbon. Carbon is stored in all parts of a tree in the plants growing on the forest floor, in organic matter on the ground and in the soil. This carbon storing capacity of forests make it a carbon reservoir or carbon pool.
Forests as a carbon source
The removal of forests will release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This makes forests a potentially large carbon source.
We can help reduce the release of carbon dioxide by
• Preventing the conversion of forestland to other land use types (like completely clearning a forest for agroculture)
• By reducing the degradation and destructive utilisation of our forests e.g. practice less destructive logging practices
• Conserving old and high value forests.
Global estimates of numbers of forest-dwelling and forest-dependent peoples vary widely, however the World Bank states that forest resources contribute directly to the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in abject poverty. Of these, there are an estimated 500 million forest dependent people, 200 million of whom are indigenous peoples. Forests support the livelihoods of local communities who depend on forests not only for food, but for fuel, fodder for livestock, medicine and shelter. Whether in terms of communities most directly dependent on forest resources or people at the consumer end of international supply chains, forests are vital for the well-being of humanity and play a central role in poverty alleviation initiatives.
As it is often the poorest that are most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change, reducing deforestation provides an opportunity to simultaneously tackle the problem at its source whilst helping to promote the resilience of those most vulnerable to climate change.
Forests provide essential ecosystem services beyond carbon storage and emissions offsetting – such as health (through disease regulation), livelihoods (providing jobs and local employment), water (watershed protection, water flow regulation, rainfall generation), food, nutrient cycling and climate security. Protecting tropical forests therefore not only has a double-cooling effect, by reducing carbon emissions and maintaining high levels of evaporation from the canopy, but also is vital for the continued provision of essential life-sustaining services.
These services are essential for the well-being of people and the planet, however they remain undervalued and therefore cannot compete with the more immediate gains delivered from converting forests into commodities. Ecosystem services operate from local to global scales and are not confined within national borders; all people are therefore reliant on them and it is in our collective interest to ensure their sustained provisioning into the future.
Benefits of REDD+
REDD+ provides a unique opportunity to achieve large scale emissions reductions at comparatively low abatement costs.
By economically valuing the role forest ecosystems play in carbon capture and storage, it allows intact forests to compete with historically more lucrative, alternate land uses resulting in their destruction.
Within its remit, REDD+ has the potential to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation, whilst also conserving biodiversity and sustain vital eco system services.
History of REDD+
In its infancy, REDD was first and foremost focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. However, in 2007, the Bali Action Plan formulated at COP13 stated that a comprehensive approach to mitigating climate change should include policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
A year later this was further elaborated on as the role of conservation sustainable management fo forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks was upgraded so as to receive the same emphasis as avoided emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Finally in COP16 as set out in the Cancun Agreements, REDD became REDD+ to reflect the new components.
REDD+ now includes
A – Reducing emissions from deforestation
B – Reducing emissions from forest degradation
C – Conservation of forest carbon stocks
D – Sustainable management of forests
E – Enhancement of forest carbon stocks
What is REDD+ about?
REDD+ is a voluntary approach for developing countries and
includes five activities:
• Reduce emissions from deforestation
• Reduce emissions from forest degradation
• Conserve forest carbon stocks
• Sustainably manage forests
• Enhance forest carbon stocks
Four components make up REDD+, they are:
• A national strategy or action plan
• A national forest reference level as the basis for accounting the
results of REDD+ activities
• A national forest monitoring system
• A system for reporting how all of the REDD+ social and environmental
safeguards are being addressed and respected throughout the
implementation of the activities Countries implementing REDD+ may
pass through three phases:
• The development of national strategies or action plans, policies
and measures, and capacity-building
• The implementation of national policies and measures, as well
as national strategies or action plans, that could involve capacity
building, technology development and transfer, and results- based
• Results-based actions that should be fully measured, reported
Financial support for REDD+ may come from a variety of sources,
such as the public and private sectors and bilateral and multilateral
agreements. This funding may include payments for emissions
reductions achieved through the implementation of REDD+ activities.
These are called results-based payments.
Reporting for Results-based REDD+ Actions Workshop
23-26 April 2019, Suva, Fiji
This third mission to Fiji will focus on enhancing the institutional capacity of the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) team, addressing issues identified in Fiji’s Inventory Improvement Plan and compiling Fiji’s AFOLU-sector GHGI for Fiji’s 2019 Biennial Update Report (BUR).
The mission will focus on:
1. Defining role and responsibilities for preparing Fiji’s AFOLU sector GHGI
2. Addressing issues identified in Fiji’s inventory improvement plan
3. Compiling a draft AFOLU-sector GHGI for Fiji’s first BUR
4. Sharing knowledge and experiences between Fiji’s and PNG’s AFOLU-sector GHGI teams
To meet these objectives the RRR+ team, in collaboration with PNG’s GHGI team, will host a 4-day workshop with the participants identified for Fiji’s AFOLU sector working group. The workshop is facilitated by the Climate Change and International Cooperation Division under Fiji’s Ministry of Economy.
Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019, Incheon, Republic of Korea
UNDP/FCPF REDD+ Readiness Project completed consultations with key stakeholders to identify activities for 2019. A draft outreach plan for 2019 was developed pending approval of Project Management Unit whether all or certain activities to be carried out. The implementation of the plan will be led by CCDA and PNGFA with support from UNDP/FCPF REDD+ Readiness Project.
Besides REDD+ communication, the Project staff have also been working with staff from key Government agencies to develop key messages, branding and development of initial key communications products for dissemination about a soon to be launched platform called PNG Sustainable Palm Oil Platform.
The Palm Oil Platform will facilitate dialogue where all key stakeholders will come together to discuss how best the palm oil industry can be guided. As there is no policy framework to regulate the industry at the moment, the aim of the platform is to come up with key action plans as to how this industry should be guided so that its impacts on the forestry sector and the environment is reduced and for it to meet international standards of best practices. This platform consists of members from key Government agencies, private sectors and civil society organisations.
Merchandise sent from the SPC/GIZ Regional REDD+ Project to support raising the awareness and visibility has been received and shared between PNGFA, CCDA and the UNDP/FCPF REDD+ Readiness Project. Some of the merchandise has been distributed to key stakeholders including PNG Media in the effort to increase knowledge about REDD+ in PNG.
Fiji REDD+ Second Round of Consultations to address ERPD
05-06 February 2019, Nadi, Fiji
Fiji’s REDD+ Programme organised a second round of consultations with their REDD+ stakeholders to address the gaps for Fiji’s Emissions Reduction Program Document (ERPD). The Permanent Secretary Forestry, Mr Pene Baleinabuli opened the workshop that was attended by key stakeholders from the Ministry of Lands, ITaukei Trust Board, Mineral Resources Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Live & Learn NGO, Soqosoqo Vakamarama, SPC/GIZ Regional REDD+ Programme, other staff from the Ministry of Forests, the Solicitor General’s office and and Rise Beyond the Reef NGO.
The workshop was organised so that specific interventions can be identified to address the drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation that Fiji is proposing through its Emissions Reduction Programme Document. During the workshop, the stakeholders contributed to the document’s contents especially with interventions specific to their sectors.
The document will be finalised and submitted to the Forest Carbon Fund Partnership Facility in June this year. If approved, Fiji will be able to roll out its Emissions Reduction Programme in Vitilevu, Vanualevu and Taveuni.
Information courtesy of Reama Naco, Fiji REDD+ Facebook Page
Pacific Regional Study Tour to Germany
16th September 2018
Staff from Forestry Departments of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will embark on study tour to Hamburg, Germany the week of 17 – 21 September 2018.
During the week-long tour, the participants will visit sustainably managed and conservation forest areas and timber and wood processing sites in southern and northern Germany. There will also be a visit to the climate change science cluster of excellency at the University of Hamburg.
This tour is an opportunity for the staff from the Forestry Departments to gain insight in the areas of sustainable forest management, downstream processes, value adding and forest related climate science.
The study tour will engage the participants in valuable exchanges of information not only with colleagues from the Melanesian Islands Countries but also with experts and practitioners from Germany.
The tour is funded by the SPC/GIZ Regional REDD+ Project.
Visiting Lubeck City Forests
17th September 2018
The SPC/GIZ Regional Project, REDD+ Forest Conservation in the Pacific Islands Countries supports the four Melanesian Countries of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu fulfill the requirements to participate in REDD+.
The acronym REDD+ is developing country efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
As part of its continuing support to the four Melanesia Countries of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to enable them to fulfill all requirements to participate in REDD+, a delegation of 20 participants embarked on study tour to Germany from the 17 – 22 September 2018.
Staff from the Forestry Department of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu made up of Forest Technical Officers, Communications Officers, Staff from the Policy Units and staff of REDD+ Programmes together with staff from the SPC/GIZ Regional REDD+ Project began this week-long tour that began in Hamburg and ended in Frankfurt.
The delegation visited and were hosted at the cities and towns of Hamburg, Lubeck, Gottingen, Kaiserslautern, Tripstadt and Frankfurt during the week-long tour. Following is a summary of the study-tour.
Visit to the City Forest of Lubeck
The study tour began with a visit to the Lubeck City Forest. Located in northern Germany, Lubeck is renowned for its City Forest which has been modeled to be as close to a natural forest as possible.
Hosted by Mr Knut Sturm, Head of Department, Lubeck City Forestry Department, Mr Sturm explained to the delegation that there were three objectives behind the management of the City of Lubeck Forests.
The objectives are that there exists a natural forest for the people of Lubeck to enjoy and one where nature can teach the inhabitants of Lubeck and its visitors about the pure and natural functions of a forest and the benefits of a healthy forest to sustain life on the planet. Another objective of the sustainable management of the Lubeck City Forest is to cater to the commercial needs of the forest sector. The Lubeck City Forests have a stronger focus on cutting down big trees on a needs basis, with the buyer going into the forest and selecting the tree for their purposes. This helps minimise activities inside the forests as the trees are harvested sustainably and with minimum waste. The third objective behind the Lubeck City Forest concept is to contribute to nature conservation. The city of Lubeck’s 5,000 hectares of forestland has about 1,000 hectares comprised of marshlands and is near the Baltic Sea, so having this concept supports nature conservation efforts of other landscapes within the forestland.
The study tour delegates were impressed with the layout of the forests and how a path separated the forest area set aside for logging and the forest area being managed to be as close to a natural forest as possible.
The City Forest of Lubeck is 300 years old and over the years underwent transformations till the 1990’s when it became part of the managed forests under the City Forestry Department.
Regional Pacific Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Hub MoU signed with the United Kingdom
Friday 30th November 2018
Pacific Island Countries received a boost on Friday November 30th, 2018 towards implementing and enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This happened through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed at the British High Commission in Suva, Fiji, by Ms. Melanie Hopkins, the British High Commissioner to Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Federated States of Micronesia, and Mr. James Macbeth Forbes, the German International Cooperation Agency’s (GIZ) Director of Programmes in the Pacific.
The MoU signing operationalises the contribution of £ 1.2 million from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom to support the Regional Pacific NDC Hub. This funding support is of key importance in setting up the NDC Hub, which will be operational from January 2019.
The NDC Hub is a response to calls from Pacific Island Countries (PICs) for a regional platform to support them in implementing and enhancing their NDCs to meet their commitments under the 2015 (COP 21) Paris Agreement. The Hub is a partnership between The Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), NDC Partnerships Support Unit (NDCP SU) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Through this NDC Hub, Pacific Island Countries can make requests for support related to developing NDC roadmaps and investment plans, leveraging finance, mainstreaming NDCs with existing legislations, building regional partnerships, and sharing knowledge on NDC implementation. The NDC Hub will deliver this support by providing access to international and regional experts and facilitating partnerships with regional organizations specialising in fields related to NDC implementation. The NDC Hub will also strengthen existing regional platforms, such as the Regional Technical Support Mechanism, and work within the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.
The NDC Hub is also supported in its initial phase (December 2018 – March 2020) by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with a funding of € 500,000 and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with a contribution of AUD 500,000. Under the UNFCCC, countries are required to submit their revised NDCs by March 2020.