REDD: The New Beast in the Forest Brings Hope and Threats to Indigenous Peoples

ENVIRONMENT, 9 Apr 2012

Stephen Leahy – TRANSCEND Media Service

“REDD is the new beast in the forest,” said Patrick Anderson of the Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia here at Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous peoples workshop in Cairns, Australia.

Deforestation gobbles up an area the size of Greece (13 million hectares) every year. As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, it also produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions — a whopping 15 to 20 percent of all global emissions. That’s second only to the burning of fossil fuels.

Sadly, in our economic system, trees are worth far more dead as paper, lumber, furniture, etc., than alive.

In an attempt to reverse this, countries in the United Nations have agreed to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests in a program called REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

This is how it works. Trees take heat-trapping carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow and store it for as long as the trees live. Instead of cutting down trees and selling the wood, the carbon trapped in the living trees can be sold as “carbon credits” on an open market.

A steel, cement, or coal-fired power company in the U.S. or a European country can then buy those credits instead of reducing its carbon emissions. The current price is around $10 per tonne but this fluctuates.

For example, the newly established Carbon Tax in Australia sets the price at $23 per ton in the first year of operations. (One hectare of tropical forest stores between 250-500 tonnes of carbon but varies considerably. An average car emits 1.5 tonne of carbon per year.)

“Everyone’s chucking money at Indonesia to get carbon credits,” said Anderson. “Its probably because it’s too hard to reduce emissions back home.”

About 80% of Indonesia’s carbon emissions come from deforestation, making it the third largest emitter after the U.S. and China. In 2009 Indonesia said it will reduce its emissions 60% by 2030 — most of that will come from reduced deforestation.

The world’s remaining forests are not just big green carbon storage tanks, they are the homes and territories of diverse Indigenous peoples. Indonesia has 750 tribes and 100 million out of a total population of 240 million on its 17,000 islands, including Borneo.

“Indonesia doesn’t recognize the rights of its Indigenous peoples and grants logging concessions without involving them,” said Anderson.

There are at least 40 REDD projects underway in Indonesia and not once were local peoples first asked if they want to participate, he said. While REDD can help protect forests and could bring local people much-needed income, the devil is in the details… or in this case the demands of the marketplace.

Like any market, the carbon market demands verification of how much carbon is in a forest and how much carbon will remain there over 40, 60, or 80 years. This is both very technical and very expensive to do. Purchasers of carbon credits also want contractual agreements with forest owners to guarantee the carbon stays in the forest, which may prevent local people from using the forest to grow food, fix a roof, or even hunt for generations.

And then who gets the money? So far it’s not the Indigenous peoples, said Intu Boedhihartono, a researcher at James Cook University in Australia. “Very little money from carbon credits is going to them,” said Boedhihartono, who works in Indonesia and the Congo.

The carbon market involves hundreds of millions of dollars. One major obstacle in accessing some of that carbon credit money is Indigenous peoples’ lack of formal land title, she said.

The global community still hasn’t recognized our inherent rights, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).

REDD will fail if forest peoples are kept out of the negotiations and if states do not ensure that our right to free, prior and informed consent is properly respected, said Tauli-Corpuz, a member of the indigenous Kankana-ey Igorot community in the Philippines.

That includes the right to say ‘no’.

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Author: I have been an independent environmental journalist for 17 years, my writing has been published in dozens of publications around the world including New Scientist, The London Sunday Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Maclean’s Magazine, Earth Island Journal, The Toronto Star, Wired News, Audubon, BBC Wildlife, and National Geographic News Watch. Based outside of Toronto (Uxbridge), I am the international science and environment correspondent for the Rome-headquartered Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world’s 6th largest global news agency.

Go to Original – nationalgeographic.com

 

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One Response to “REDD: The New Beast in the Forest Brings Hope and Threats to Indigenous Peoples”

  1. David Doerr says:

    We need to end the enormous waste of the planet’s resources that is spent on useless warfare. This could only happen when we promote control over the unsustainable birth rates that pressure cultures to take up arms, in order to survive the over-exploitation of their resources. Photo-copying the means of natural birth control, and then handing them out to residents of congested slums wouldn’t cost a great amount of money, yet I must be the first person ever to think of this!! Why throw a billion dollars at the problem over at the U.N., when those people haven’t done anything to control the world’s birth rate – which has increased forty per cent over the last twenty-five years? No, governments are simply self-serving bureaucracies, who ignored for too long the fact that we are running out of oil reserves, over-populating the planet, and destroying it with the lack of stewardship over the use of our technologies. There has to be a balance, and no one seems to be searching to establish what that is. I would use the militaries of the planet for planting forests, teaching the natural and artificial methods of birth control, teaching the basics of nutrition, and having the officers teach courses on theology. A godless planet is doomed, by its very nature. We need the military to fight our forest fires, and to secure the porous borders. If we don’t find useful employment for people, then we have to provide them with non-productive employment. This is difficult for people to grasp. When these people die, then when they are born again, they might be the people who are exploited, if they don’t strive to solve these problems, and just think of themselves. That is what Christ tried to explain to everyone. No one believed him. Don’t gamble with your souls.