Current measures to address deforestation are not tackling the underlying causes of forest loss and are therefore doomed to fail, according to a new report.
The report released today at the UN climate talks
in Cancun by the Global Forest Coalition
, found excessive demand for wood and land is the major cause of deforestation
. It reveals that global measures, such as the UN programme REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), are likely to fail because they do not address these causes.
Deforestation accounts for almost a fifth of global carbon emissions and programmes such as REDD tackle the problem by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. It offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands. In October, the UK Government increased its commitment to the programme as part of a £100 million global forestry fund.
Today’s report says focusing on the financial value of the carbon stored in forests rather than the demand for wood, is self-defeating.
"Contrary to popular thinking, forests are dependent on the availability of land, not money," said Simone Lovera, executive director of the Global Forest Coalition. "The most effective policies to conserve and restore forests are those that reduce demand for land."
Demand for wood
The high demand for wood, both domestically and internationally, is a "prominent and persistent driver" of deforestation, the report says. Plantation agriculture, expanding agrofuel production, and the shift toward a bioenergy economy, are also responsible for the problem.
The report points out that there are no international policies
to reduce demand for timber as a means of reducing deforestation. To the contrary, it finds, EU and US renewable
energy policies currently provide major incentives to increase wood-based bio-energy production, worsening the problem.
Fiu Mataese Elisara, chair of the Global Forest Coalition, said: "There is a pressing need to completely transform the way in which efforts supposed to reduce deforestation, such as REDD, are being developed. A more effective alternative would be to stop commodifying and monetizing forests, and to look to indigenous peoples to lead the way on restoring forests, on the basis of their knowledge and enduring commitment to them, providing them with appropriate financial and other support as required."
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