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Using deforestation research to inform climate policy

This policy brief, published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), examines how deforestation research can influence strategies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

Land-use change — in particular tropical deforestation — accounts for one fifth of global carbon emissions, releasing around six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. REDD is therefore likely to be a key component of any global climate deal struck to follow the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. But, argue the authors, the complex interplay of social, economic, environmental and political factors makes it difficult to generalise about the most appropriate strategies for REDD.

To succeed, they say, REDD will have to be tailored to specific contexts and address both direct causes of deforestation — such as clearing — and the less direct, underlying causes such as governance and population growth. In particular, REDD policies will have to address the fact that destroying or degrading forests earns land-users more money than conserving them.

The international community will also have to agree on more robust definitions, systems and methods for monitoring changes in carbon contained in forests and developing countries will need help to be able to do this. The authors identify areas for further research that include how to set reference levels and baselines for emissions, the effectiveness of payment options, how to integrate other ecosystem services, and capacity-building needs.

Political decisions on REDD must be informed by scientific research and economic analysis, conclude the authors.

Link to full policy brief from CIFOR [438kB]

This policy brief was prepared by researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research.