At an international conference on climate and deforestation in Oslo, Germany, France, Norway, the U.S., Britain, Australia and Japan made commitments to finance an environmental program called REDD plus, (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).
About twenty percent of CO2 released into the atmosphere is believed to come from destruction of forests. This amount of CO2 is equal to the amount produced by all of the world’s mechanized transportation.
The billions in aid money will be paid to countries where forests are being destroyed, in exchange for keeping them intact and healthy. About 32 million acres of trees are cut down each year. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, remarked, “Reducing deforestation and forest degradation can provide us with the largest, the fastest, the cheapest cuts in global emissions.”
Indonesia will receive one billion dollars from Norway to protect their forest peatlands. “A two-year moratorium on new logging proejcts will go into effect,” said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Because of the fast-growing palm oil industry, Indonesia is now one of the top emitters of carbon dioxide.
A GreenPeace advisor in Southeast Asia, cautioned against assuming all is well just because of the financial commitments, “Indonesia has taken a step in the right direction but before the ink on this agreement dries, the millions of hectares of our country’s forests and carbon rich peatlands that have already been allocated for destruction must be included in this moratorium for it to have any real and positive impact on the ground.”
Some of the news reports about the recent financial pledges don’t mention forests are the habitats for many species. They are teeming with biodiversity in countries like Indonesia, and Brazil. Forests are not separate from those ecological systems. In Borneo there are thousands of wild orangutans but their habitat is being destroyed to make palm oil plantations. In 2006 it was reported the orangutan population had declined over a ten year period by 43 percent.
Part of the REDD plus efforts include education for the local people who use forests for their livelihood. According to a World Bank document about 1.2 billion people rely on agroforesty for their food and income. The United Nations collaborates with the REDD program.
Image Credit: NepGrower