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  • FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

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    Forests and climate change

     

     
     
    International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2010

    Almost 20 per cent of the world's carbon emissions come from deforestation. The carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is more than all the carbon in the atmosphere, making forests one of the world's chief carbon sinks.

    In recognizing the importance of protecting the world's forests, the United Nations Collaborative Initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme) and the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) initiative were established to curb deforestation in developing countries in order to help mitigate climate change.

    The UN-REDD Programme

    UN-REDD is a collaborative initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme. The Programme recognizes the important role that healthy, well-managed forests play in climate change mitigation. Its aim is to encourage developing countries to protect, better manage and wisely use their forest resources, by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in standing forests, thus making trees more valuable standing than they would be cut down. The Programme was launched in 2008, and supports REDD+ activities in nine countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the national level, UN-REDD supports governments to prepare and implement national REDD+ strategies with the active involvement of all stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities. The Programme provides technical advice on ways to address deforestation and forest degradation, methods and tools for measuring and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and forest carbon flows.

    At the international level, the UN-REDD Programme brings together technical teams from around the world to develop common REDD+ approaches, analyses and guidelines. The Programme also seeks to build awareness and consensus about the importance of including a REDD+ mechanism in a post-2012 climate change agreement.

    "The partnerships that have been cultivated with UN-REDD Programme countries and international partners in 2009 provide a solid foundation on which countries can transform their national economies to low-carbon development pathways in a manner that benefits people and the environment," said Yemi Katerere, Head of the UN-REDD Programme secretariat.

    For more information, visit www.un-redd.org

    EU-FLEGT: curtailing illegal timber imports

    The European Union's policy to fight illegal logging and associated trade was defined in 2003 with the FLEGT Action Plan. This plan consists of three essential elements: concluding FLEGT "voluntary partnership agreements" with timber-producing countries to improve forest governance and transparency in their forest sector;

    encouraging EU member states to implement public procurement practices that give preference to legally harvested timber and timber products; and additional measures to address the problem of illegal logging and associated trade to prevent the trade in illegally harvested timber.

    In 2008, the FLEGT Action Plan introduced further legislation to minimize the risk of illegally harvested timber and timber products entering the EU. The proposal requires traders to identify the country of origin of their timber, and ensure that timber they sell has been harvested according to the relevant laws of that country. This enables EU members to influence illegal logging and send a strong message to suppliers to the EU market while at the same time increasing the protection of forests, especially in developing countries that export forest products to the EU.

    For further information visit http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/illegal_logging.htm

    Forest facts*

    1. The world's total forest area is just over 4 billion hectares (ha) or 31 per cent of total land area
    2. Globally, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased by an estimated 0.5 gigatonnes a year from 2000 to 2010, mainly due to a reduction in total forest area
    3. Primary forests account for 36 per cent of total forest area but have decreased by more than 40 million ha since 2000. This is largely due to reclassification of primary forest to "other naturally regenerated forests" because of selective logging or other human interventions
    *Source: FAO - www.fao.org