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UN Climate Change-Deforestation Policy Co-Opted by Industrial Loggers/Tree Farmers

Industrial tree farmers co-opt UN forest management principles

Masquerading under the guise “Sustainable Forest Management,” industrial tree farms and their downstream paper and pulp manufacturing facilities are a major source of carbon emissions and threaten local ecosystems, biodiversity and residents’ livelihoods.

Unfortunately, vested interests pushing the SFM agenda have “co-opted 13 influential inter-governmental organizations”–the Collaborative Partnership on Forests— and are driving the agenda in international climate negotiations leading up to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s upcoming Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, according to a June 4 report by Global Witness.

Afforestation projects are already eligible for marketable Certified Emission Reduction credits under the UN Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, as well as benefiting from funding from international development organizations including the World Bank.

When is a Forest Not a Forest?

Operating under the guise of Sustainable Forest Management and funded by UN, World Bank and other international economic development agencies, industrial tree farming, logging and paper and pulp processing operations are thwarting, if not outright contradicting, realization of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts related to forestry in developing countries, according to Global Witness.

“‘Vested Interests – industrial logging and carbon in tropical forests’ documents how even the most benign form of commercial logging – known as Reduced Impact Logging (RIL)–kills 5-10 non-target trees for every target tree cut, and releases between 10 and 80 tonnes of carbon per hectare,” the UK-based organization notes in its latest report.

“The roads driven through forests by logging companies, essential for RIL, render them 4 and 8 times more likely to suffer complete deforestation than intact forests. Moreover, all forms of logging make forests far more vulnerable to fire.

“During the El Niño events in the late 1990s, 60% of logged forests in Indonesian Borneo went up in smoke compared with 6% of primary forest. In fact, the increase in forest fires caused by logging can be more devastating and release more carbon than the logging operations themselves.”

Advocating a Misguided Industry Agenda

Deforestation accounts for 18% of annual global CO2 emissions. Going under the moniker REDD–Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation–reducing that is one of the key goals of current climate change negotiations.

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests, along with the World Bank, is pushing Reduced Impact Logging as part of its Sustainable Forest Management agenda at the current round of meetings taking place in Bonn through June 12. The CFP is driving the formulation of UNFCCC climate change policies related to forestry and deforestation.

The international logging, paper and pulp community is keen to grab a big slice of what may be a very large financing pie that would be doled out by the World Bank and other international development organizations if REDD is included in a post-2012 successor to the Kyoto Protocol climate change pact. Reaching an agreement on REDD could see as much as $35 billion a year channeled into such projects, according to Global Witness.

“This is simultaneously a fantastic opportunity and a grave threat. A good REDD agreement could be a path to dramatically slowing deforestation and provide developing countries with the support and resources to keep their forests standing. This is in everyone’s interests as forests are central to the fight against climate change,” said Patrick Alley, Director of Global Witness.

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