New research shows that the so-called REDD+ scheme may increase rural poverty because critical income streams to rural people have been ignored. The REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, which consists of international plans to pay developing countries to reduce tropical forest destruction, has been provided strong support by the Cancún Agreements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on December 2010. However coarse-scale data were used when the scheme was developed.
A team of African, US and UK scientists explain in their publication in Nature climate change why and how they think adjustments should be made in the payment system to compensate for not destructing tropical forest. Especially the benefits of charcoal production from deforestation has not been included in former calculations to back the system.
The research suggests that slowing deforestation will be considerably more costly than reported in the Stern Review, an influential document which discusses the threat of climate change to the world economy. The researchers agreed that an international payment system like the REDD+ scheme must cover the costs of forest conservation to those that rely on tropical forests for their livelihoods. But with an ever increasing population size there will be an increasing demand for food and for fuel to cook this food. If the payments do not cover this demand the deforestation could move to areas outside of the REDD+ programme, which merely means that the REDD+ scheme will not deliver.
To overcome this problem with REDD+ the researchers developed a new approach, called Smart-REDD, by first calculating the increase in crop yields on existing land and the increase in fuel-efficiency of charcoal cook-stoves that are needed to meet the demand currently met by forest destruction. Then the team calculated the cost of implementing a scheme to boost crop yields, distribute high efficiency cook-stoves and monitor and protect the forests.
They did all of this in an area of Tanzania, where rapid forest conversion is coupled with intense poverty and food insecurity. They discovered that charcoal production makes up one-third of the profit of converting Tanzanian forests and woodlands to agriculture.
The cost of implementation the new scheme, at US$6.50 per tonne of carbon dioxide saved, is larger than the cost to merely compensate forest users, which is US$3.90. But the sums are still considerably less than the current market price of carbon (currently around US$24 per tonne carbon dioxide in the European Trading Scheme). The team’s research suggests that even a doubling of agricultural yields is possible at US$12 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
So, even using the true costs of practical interventions (the Smart-REDD scheme) to conserve forests must be feasible and deliver what the original REDD+ scheme was intended for: to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, to tackle climate change, reduce biodiversity loss and support human development.
(Sources: website University of Leeds, 30.05.2011; Nature, published online 29.05.2011; Wikipedia)