21ST MARCH - INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE FORESTS

 

On the occasion of March 21st, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as International Day of the Forests (1), the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and more than 300 signatories call on the General Assembly and UN Institutions and Initiatives related to forest issues to use the new initiative to address the underlying drivers of deforestation.

 

The letter is motivated by the fact that in spite of several UN initiatives aimed at calling attention for forests at the international level, the process of deforestation -affecting especially tropical forests - continues and the proposed solutions have not slowed down tropical forest loss worldwide - on the contrary. “The proposals discussed at UN-level, by the FAO, CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNFF, to solve the forest crisis, for example REDD+ (2), are false solutions because they do not address the underlying drivers of deforestation and strengthen a false idea of sustainability. This is why deforestation has increased in many countries, rather than decreased”, declares Winnie Overbeek, International Coordinator of the WRM.

 

Continuous forest destruction affects directly the life and future of hundreds of millions of forest peoples, therefore urgent action is needed such as recognizing the rights of forest and forest-dependent communities over their communal territories, as well as defining forests by their true meaning for these peoples, excluding industrial tree monoculture plantations from the present definition that the FAO applies and that defines these monocultures as “forests”(3).

 

Furthermore, the large-scale land grabbing and destruction of tropical forests worldwide driven by transnational corporations (TNCs) that increasingly certify their activities as “sustainable”, needs to be urgently halted, as well as the increasing human rights violations their actions provoke, including intimidations, affecting those defending the tropical forests and the rights of forest-dependent communities against these threats. Besides, governments and the UN in the first place should support efforts to consume less forest destroying products instead of promoting initiatives that make consumers buying the certified products
from large-scale operations and companies that continue to destroy forests.

 

The letter concludes affirming that “Above all, on this first International Day of Forests we call on the UN and its forest-related institutions to heed the lessons of past initiatives aimed at ending deforestation: Halting forest loss will remain an illusion until action is undertaken to eliminate the underlying causes that drive deforestation.“

 

The full version of the letter is available (also in Spanish, French and Portuguese) at http://www.wrm.org.uy/forests/letter_Day_of_the_Forests.html

 

For further information:
Winnie Overbeek +55 27 8821 9007
Teresa Perez (WRM Secretariat) +598 99 367 966
http://www.wrm.org.uy

 

Notes:
1.- http://www.fao.org/forestry/36014-063ec88fa19cab1dfe473d7813290b32.pdf
2.- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, see
http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/REDD.html
3.- http://www.wrm.org.uy/forests.html

Comments (4)

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This title of this letter (World Rainforest Movement: REDD+ is a false solution) would lead you to believe that this is about the UN REDD+ program. On the contrary, REDD+ is only mentioned once in the letter. This letter is primarily about...

This title of this letter (World Rainforest Movement: REDD+ is a false solution) would lead you to believe that this is about the UN REDD+ program. On the contrary, REDD+ is only mentioned once in the letter. This letter is primarily about deforestation in general. Even then, the facts are wrong. Take this quotation:

The letter is motivated by the fact that in spite of several UN initiatives aimed at calling attention for forests at the international level, the process of deforestation -affecting especially tropical forests - continues and the proposed solutions have not slowed down tropical forest loss worldwide


This statement is wrong. Historically Brazil and Indonesia have led the world in deforestation. Deforestation in Brazil has declined about 80% since 2004. Indonesia’s deforestation rate has fallen about 50% between 2009 and 2011 according to the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

So how does this apply to the UN REDD+ program? This article claims that:

“The proposals discussed at UN-level, by the FAO, CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNFF, to solve the forest crisis, for example REDD+ (2), are false solutions because they do not address the underlying drivers of deforestation and strengthen a false idea of sustainability.


While the above references clearly show that deforestation has decreased over the past 10 or so years, let’s talk about the REDD+ program. At my last count a couple of months ago, there were only 10 REDD+ programs that had gone through verification and earned carbon credits. The area of forest they covered was vanishingly small. This is because the program is brand new and there has been virtually no money put into developing projects. Virtually all money spent to date has been to develop national REDD+ capacity and strategies.

However, let’s address the claim that these programs are “false solutions because they do not address the underlying drivers of deforestation”. No where in the letter are the underlying drivers identified. So here they are: lumber, crop land, and pasture. People earn money by selling lumber and using the cleared land to grow crops and graze animals. They do not earn any money by leaving the forest standing. The REDD+ program provides a way to earn money by leaving the forest standing. I would suggest that this addresses the underlying driver of deforestation rather directly.

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Dave
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<p>Thank you very much for your detailed comments Dave, we welcome all opinions on ECOCLUB.com. This is clearly a political issue.<br />
The signatories may be in fact implying that REDD+ is the wrong way to tackle the root causes of...

<p>Thank you very much for your detailed comments Dave, we welcome all opinions on ECOCLUB.com. This is clearly a political issue.<br />
The signatories may be in fact implying that REDD+ is the wrong way to tackle the root causes of deforestation, that being Neoliberal Capitalism and Neoimperialism (rather than "lumber, crop land, and pasture" as these are not natural phenomena but economic processes), as it is a neoliberal concoction itself. You seem to be saying that is not currently working as it is at very early stages of development and has not yet gathered support. This is analogous to the discussion about carbon offsetting in general, while critics say that it is also false solution, reality has shown that it is no solution at all with the price of carbon having fallen to abysmal levels.</p>

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Ecoclub
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If the authors of the letter want to stop deforestation by ending capitalism I would suggest that they review the history of the 20th century when there was a concerted and failed effort to replace capitalism. I would also like to point out that...

If the authors of the letter want to stop deforestation by ending capitalism I would suggest that they review the history of the 20th century when there was a concerted and failed effort to replace capitalism. I would also like to point out that the track record of non-capitalist countries is equally if not more disastrousness than capitalistic countries.

But let's talk about carbon offsetting in general. I certainly agree that the price of offsets has fallen to abysmal levels. Of course, there are several reasons for this. First, the continuing recession in the EU has caused actual carbon emissions to come in significantly below the agreed permit allocation. The UN permits have fallen due to the collapse of communist Russia as the agreed permits allocated to Russia are considerably higher than actual emissions. Both of these markets were poorly designed in the face of actual events. However, I would like to point out that the result has been a substantially reduction in carbon emissions.

In addition, carbon offsets have bee proven to be significantly less expensive to generate than predicted even a few years ago. REDD+ projects cost less than $10/ton. This does not even include the added benefits of biodiversity and other ecosystem services preservation and in some cases community development benefits. Offsetting all emissions worldwide will prove to be considerably less expensive than forecast just like the sulfur dioxide emission market cut emissions in half at one quarter the projected cost.

So in answer to your claim that "reality has shown that it is no solution at all with the price of carbon having fallen to abysmal levels" I strongly disagree. The best possible result is a reduction in emissions in conjunction with falling prices for carbon emissions. In the current situation, emissions have fallen in the EU but mostly due to recession, which is not ideal. However, I am confident that the market will be fixed and the price will increase which will put pressure on polluters to either reduce emissions or buy offsets. The California emissions market has a price floor for emission permits that increases each year.

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Dave
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Thank you for your additional insight.

The 20th century was indeed a productivist century, in both the West and the East, during the cold war contest in the course of which, both camps produced many skeletons in their closets and in the...

Thank you for your additional insight.

The 20th century was indeed a productivist century, in both the West and the East, during the cold war contest in the course of which, both camps produced many skeletons in their closets and in the long-suffering global south. Ecosocialism, an emerging 21st century current of socialism seeks to combine ecological wisdom with human rights and social justice.

The op-ed you provided is in fact about China (during the Olympic Games), which in recent decades has fully become a capitalist country and the world's exporter of consumer goods putting its environment into immense pressure.

In the TIME's list of 10 most polluted places which you also quote, assuming this is scientific (how did they compare and rank pollution?) and excluding China which is a special case, less than half of the places are from former "actually-existing-socialism" countries.

History (may be written by the victors) but is always more complex, for a more detailed account of environmental policy in the Soviet Union, the following links are useful:

http://environs.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/14/1/articles/zaharchenko.pdf
http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/commercial_books/CB367/chap6.pdf

You do recognise that "there has been a substantial reduction in carbon emissions" but "mostly due to recession". So, along with the collapse of the carbon market, there can be no hard evidence that carbon offsetting has contributed to emissions decline. It would also be counter-intuitive, as manufacturers buy permits so as to continue polluting. What happens to the profits generated by the carbon market? One's guess is that end up in the pockets of traders and intermediaries rather than in local communities. Carbon becomes one more traded commodity in a financial system gone mad (see bank bail-outs with tax payers money and more recently bail-ins) while the free right to clean air becomes privatised to be enjoyed by the haves.

More on the failure of Carbon trading can be found at http://climateandcapitalism.com/2013/02/08/carbon-trading-has-failed-scrap-the-ets-now/

Information on the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm

Updates:
A March 2013 UNEP report finds that corruption is at the heart of Carbon trading
http://na.unep.net/geas/archive/pdfs/GEAS_Mar2013_EnvCorruption.pdf

An article revealing the dark side of REDD+ in Honduras and the links with human rights abusers:
http://climatesoscanada.org/blog/2013/07/26/the-oxygen-trade-leaving-hondurans-gasping-for-air/

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Comment was last edited about 7 years ago by Ecoclub Ecoclub
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