Linkages at International, National and Local Levels
The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Frank Maes, An Cliquet, Willemien du Plessis and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 9: Reducing emissions in the forest sector under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: A new opportunity for biodiversity conservation?
Forests host the world’s most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems, providing services precious for human well-being. Forests also play a key role in the global carbon cycle by storing carbon and releasing it back into the atmosphere once they are cleared. Forestry accounts for around 12–18 per cent of global carbon emissions, which are largely associated with deforestation and forest degradation. Deforestation and forest degradation have become especially prominent in the tropics, as pressure from competing land uses has shifted from developed to developing countries. Concerns over the loss of forests’ ecosystem services have led to a long strife to regulate forest uses at the international level. So far states have failed to effectively address the global drivers of deforestation and the displacement of environmental pressure associated with international trade in timber and agricultural products. Forests are chiefly regarded as natural resources in international law, which recognizes states’ permanent sovereignty over them, as well as states’ right to exploit their forest resources according to their environmental policies. And yet, forests arguably need to be managed in a way that is consistent with commitments embodied in universally ratified international treaties concerning issues regarded as ‘common concerns of humankind’, such as biodiversity protection and climate change. This chapter illustrates how the debate on the establishment of a mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides new momentum to coordinate efforts with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
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