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Five developing countries have received US$18 million in funding to plan how to implement a proposed scheme to reward countries that protect forests and reduce deforestation.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Vietnam will share the funds, which will enable them to prepare national action plans to take part in the proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism — likely to be agreed upon at climate talks in Copenhagen in December this year.

REDD will provide financial incentives for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. 

The UN-REDD programme — a collaboration between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Development Programme that aims to support preparations for REDD — has provided the funding.

Funding was approved last month (18 March) at a high level UN-REDD board meeting in Panama, where each country presented national plans for a future REDD regime.  

Tanzania will receive US$4 million of the funding, says Niklas Hagelberg, programme officer in the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation at UNEP.

The Tanzanian REDD programme will be led by the Forestry and Beekeeping Division. Hagelberg says Tanzania will prepare itself for REDD by ensuring a national governance framework and strong institutional capacity. They also need a system for capturing information — such as forest loss, carbon emissions and land use assessment — to feed into a REDD process.

Other preparations will include improved capacity to manage REDD locally and pilot the scheme in chosen districts, outline how payments would be distributed and raise REDD awareness.

New methodologies and technologies will be required for carbon accounting and ensuring real emission reductions, says Hagelberg. These will be addressed during the programme implementation, he says.

Hassan Nkya, senior scientist at Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, says Tanzania is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most promising countries for implementing a REDD scheme, with its enabling policies and well-defined local governance.

There are already policies in place that enable local people to establish forest reserves, leading to increased biomass and poverty alleviation, he says.

Nkya agrees that there is a lot of work to be done to measure and monitor carbon storage in the country's forests. Carbon auditing will require intensification and, as it is a new subject, public awareness is essential, he says.

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