Forests and Climate Change

Forests and Climate Change

The Social Dimensions of REDD in Latin America

Anthony Hall

Controlling deforestation, which is responsible for about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, has become a major tool in the battle against global warming. An important new international initiative – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) – provides economic incentives to forest users to encourage preservation of trees. Nearly all Latin American countries are introducing national REDD strategies and pilot schemes.

Preface

Anthony Hall

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental geography, environmental sociology, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy

Extract

The idea of paying forest users in the developing world to cut deforestation has given the world an acronym with universal appeal – REDD, or ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’. Implicitly at least, REDD (now REDD+ to include both avoided deforestation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) promises a ‘win–win’ solution for mitigating the effects of global warming. REDD+ promises to help maintain standing forests and sequester carbon from the atmosphere while providing cash incentives and other benefits to compensate forest users, build livelihoods and reward indigenous and community groups for their stewardship role. Although it builds quite strongly upon decades of experience with forest conservation and development, REDD+ also conjures up the image of a radical initiative that challenges predatory, ‘business-asusual’ practices. Be that as it may, however, REDD+ can be considered one of the most promising policy initiatives to have emerged so far from international climate change negotiations. Unsurprisingly, it has proved far less contentious than other proposals that would require industrialised countries to curb their greenhouse gas emissions by making major changes to their production and consumption patterns. REDD+ provides a convenient avenue that allows industrialised nations to offset their emissions by paying forest users in the developing world to retain and strengthen forest cover. Latin America has played a leading role in developing REDD+ initiatives. Deforestation is the single largest source of emissions in the region, so that any advance on this front represents a significant contribution to the global effort. Research and planning...