Friday, 13 January 2012

REDD vs green -- in Brazil and Kenya

In Brazil, Kenya, and other parts of the global South, opposition is mounting toward the UN "green economy" proposed for Rio+20, with its reliance on corporate lobbies and carbon marketers. Here is a trailer of a 28 min documentary made with indigenous peoples in Brazil:

from climate-connections, A Darker Shade of Green, by Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition, who are also working with indigenous peoples in Cancún and Chiapas, Mexico.

Kenyan views in The Green Belt Movement's Community Forest Climate Initiatives (Dec 2011):

Natural forests provide benefits such as water catchment, climate regulation, biodiversity... medicine and food.

[Kyoto CDM-AR as a model for REDD] Afforestation and reforestation (AR) can have positive or negative impacts on biodiversity depending on the ecosystem being rehabilitated and the management options being applied. AR activities that emphasize species selection and site location can promote the return, survival, and expansion of indigenous fauna and flora population. In contrast, clearing native forests and replacing them with a monoculture plantation of exotic species would have a highly negative impact on biodiversity.

GBM experience has shown that uncontrolled pressure to start and scale up forest carbon projects can be disastrous to biodiversity, water resources, food security and rural community livelihoods. Lack of clear laws and national policies, zoning maps, and institutional infrastructure often lead to unfavourable competition from logging and paper industry for ‘forest land’ at the expense of highly threatened biodiversity and watershed restoration.

An increased emphasis on carbon projects can encourage the planting of exotic trees which are fast growing and give quick return on carbon credits compared to indigenous trees that grow much slower, hence have a low return on carbon credits.... A plantation is a monoculture farm of exotic trees. We cannot afford to reduce natural forests.

GBM wants to see an equitable, ethical climate finance system. Carbon offsetting does not address the issue of climate change at its root cause; behavioural change is needed so fewer GHS [green house gases]  are produced.... 

In addition, some of the rules in these carbon projects, such as the 1990 eligibility criteria for degraded forest for AR CDM projects, further discourages conservation efforts and biodiversity restoration in rural areas. This is because only sites that were deforested before 1990 are eligible for rehabilitation without any regard to the general health of the ecosystem as a whole. Such rules have been forcing the communities to prioritize sites based on year of deforestation at the expense of the prevailing biodiversity threats and watershed restoration needs in the critical water catchment areas therefore undermining the goals of livelihoods improvement.

Local community participation: Projects should respect communities rights, culture and livelihoods. GBM experience has been that this can be achieved if the project allows for full and effective participation of rural communities. This requires sufficient investments in education and empowering communities, and developing grassroots governance structures so as to ensure free prior informed consent, enforcement of agreements, safeguards, clear and equitable benefit sharing and conflict resolution guidelines. In the absence of these, the project can fuel community conflict.

Until governments put in places strong national forest authorities, these AR carbon projects and REDD projects cannot work in Africa.

See also reports from other countries in REDD-Monitor, Global Witness, CBD Alliance's Top 10 issues for biodiversity justice, and Third World Network's backgrounder on Forests. On safeguards, see Oxfam, Guide to Free Prior and Informed Consent.

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