What Avoided Deforestation Projects Need to Know

In December of this year all eyes will be on Denmark to see if the world’s nations will line up to deal with climate change – possibly the greatest challenge now facing the planet. The United Nations climate conference at Copenhagen should – by all accounts – be historic. In addition to agreeing ambitious emissions reductions targets necessary for the world to avoid dangerous climate change, global leaders will also decide whether forest protection as a formal means of reducing emissions should be included in the agreements for the first time.

Deforestation and the destruction of carbon-storing habitats are thought to contribute between 18-25% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by mankind. New schemes to address this, known as “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Destruction” (REDD) are tabled to be included in the new climate agreement.

In such schemes, finance from the world’s carbon markets could be applied to forest protection. This means REDD has the potential to make an immense contribution to funding the protection of some of the planet’s most important habitats. However, if they are to succeed, REDD schemes must prevent the ongoing destruction of natural habitats and demonstrate real emissions reductions. The projects must be delivered in a way that ensures the support of all stakeholders, including the people living in the forests and indigenous groups.

Over a hundred years’ experience of habitat protection on the ground tells us that curbing destruction of habitats is rarely a simple or straightforward process.

Much hangs on ensuring that these schemes succeed – both in terms of the credibility of REDD itself and the urgent need to deliver real emissions reductions to avert dangerous climate change. Many different organisations and governments are already devising their own REDD projects, in advance of any formal agreement at Copenhagen.

Project developers can learn a great deal from existing conservation projects which are successfully protecting threatened habitats. Conservation has already faced many of the same hurdles that will face REDD projects as they develop. Fauna & Flora International believes that open sharing of experience of delivering previous land and forest management projects is vital to giving REDD the best chance of success.

For this reason we have pulled together some key lessons learnt from our century of experience of land and forest management which we feel will be directly relevant to helping REDD projects develop in the best possible way.