When one thinks of deforestation, one of the major consequences that comes to mind is the habitat destruction of various flora and fauna. Deforestation is also reponsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere [Source: FAO Newsroom]. The US along with the UN have begun financing countries to stop deforestation.
Several months after Brazil and the US signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to stop deforestation the Obama administration canceled $21 million of debt from Brazil in exchange for forest protection. Brazil is the first of many countries to be involved in these debt-for-nature programs, and the US State Department expects to generate more than $239 million to protect these forests. Other countries in this program are: Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines. While this program does not eliminate all the debt, it does make it much more manageable and also helps the environment [Source: Treehugger]. But this program doesn’t just benefit these indebted countries. According to a Reuters article, US agricultural revenue would increase by $190 billion to $270 billion through 2030. Eliminating deforestation would cut into unfair competition and slow expansion of agriculture on land cleared by the slash-and-burn technique. This would be particularly beneficial for US timber, soybean, oilseed and beef industry. Other countries have also been fighting against deforestation through the UN.
The UN has created the REDD program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. The strategies in REDD place a value on the carbon stored in trees, and once assessed, developed countries then pay developing countries carbon offsets for the standing trees. Norway donated $8.7 million recently to the effort increasing REDD+ program total to $22 million in addition to the $42.6 allocated to the national programs [Source: UN-REDD]. REDD currently has nine pilot countries: Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia. Despite the good intentions of the program, there are still many loose ends that could endanger the homes of indigenous tribes. Rather than putting the land in the hands of the indigenous population, the REDD program intends to involve financiers, corporations and timber companies. To protect the indigenous people, the Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change (ACFCC) lists three policies to include in REDD: participation of local peoples, recognition of indigenous land rights and employing community-based forest management. Without proper oversight, however, the REDD program is practically worthless and could worsen environmental problems. In response to the ACFCC, the UN created REDD+ that focuses on conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks [Source: UN-REDD].
Deforestation doesn’t only destroy animal habitats, it has a profound effect on climate change. The US’ debt-for-nature incentive looks to help burden loans on small countries and encourage preservation. Other programs like REDD are becoming popular though there are still several missing safeguards to conserve rainforests. Still, these plans need to be implemented on a worldwide level and concentrate as much on conservation and reforestation as deforestation.
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