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Symposium 2012

Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests

The Challenge

Forests are one of the world's major sources of ecosystem goods and services, including timber and water provision, carbon sequestration and biological diversity. Yet, destructive logging and increasing global demand for agricultural area for food, feed and bioenergy production continue to put pressure on forests, leading to loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services. Without any action, this contributes to the development that future generations might inherit a planet with a much poorer life web and unstable climate than today, which turns the protection and restoration of World's forests into one of the prominent ethical issues of our time.

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism is the most important international mechanism to reduce deforestation and forest degradation which is implemented within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). REDD+ is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives to developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

This mechanism goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation because it includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. After a long period of high forest conversion and degradation, even in the absence of an overall climate agreement, deforestation rates have been decreasing recently. In some regions, forest cover is even increasing as a result of continuous restoration efforts.

But against the background of increasing threats from climate change, questions remain about whether the actions taken are enough to conserve and restore forests. And since new plantations and restored forests are often of lower quality and have less biological capacity than natural forests, it is clear that further efforts are needed that explicitly take account of other forest ecosystem services. It is important to discuss whether additional incentives should be put in place and what instruments are appropriate for maintaining or restoring the ecosystem services provided by forests.

To decide how much effort is needed, important ecosystem services and biodiversity "hotspots" have to be identified and information gathered on the degree to which they are affected by deforestation or low quality afforestation. Better knowledge of local ecosystem services has to be gained and drivers of negative pressures have to be further understood. Finally, the economic value of ecosystem services has to be calculated to support sustainable political decision-making: how can this information be gathered and who is responsible?

For several years, the scientific community has discussed implementation of an efficient scheme of payments for ecosystem services (PES), and several local on-the-ground pilots have been initiated. Carbon sequestration is the only ecosystem service where efforts have been made on a global scale to create economic incentives for its provision. Should there be further efforts to implement PES schemes for other ecosystem services?

Apart from the conservation of wild germplasm for economically important crops, carbon sequestration is the only ecosystem service that is widely accepted as being related to a global externality, namely climate change. Externalities resulting from the degradation of other ecosystem services seem to have a local reference at first sight. Considering the increasing global pressures on natural ecosystems and against a background of possible irreversibilities, the question arises whether a global regulatory framework is also suitable for these ecosystem services or whether this is purely the responsibility of local policy. Experiences of the nascent REDD+ mechanism under the UNFCCC are important to evaluate the practical feasibility of incentive-based instruments for the provision of other ecosystem services.

In developing countries particularly, insufficient measures for protecting and restoring forest ecosystem services are in part the result of a lack of funding for developing and implementing such measures: should the international community provide financial support for their implementation? Destructive deforestation and insufficient afforestation are often taking place even though there are official protection laws and measures: how can the problems of weak public institutions, corruption and missing property rights be overcome? And do incentive-based policy measures for the protection of ecosystem services promote better enforcement of existing regulation?

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    Focus on protecting and restoring the remaining natural forests, rather than on new plantations.

    Focus on protecting and restoring the remaining natural forests, rather than on new plantations.

    Focus on protecting and restoring the remaining natural forests, rather than on new plantations.

    Polity, Business
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    To avoid "leakage effects" into natural savannahs and grasslands, include protection of these biomes in the design of forest protection policies.

    To avoid "leakage effects" into natural savannahs and grasslands, include protection of these biomes in the design of forest protection policies.

    To avoid "leakage effects" into natural savannahs and grasslands, include protection of these biomes in the design of forest protection policies.

    Polity, Business
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    Expand the REDD+ initiative for forest preservation with contingent payments based on proven performance beyond deforestation to forest degradation and carbon stocks.

    Expand the REDD+ initiative for forest preservation with contingent payments based on proven performance beyond deforestation to forest degradation and carbon stocks.

    Expand the REDD+ initiative for forest preservation with contingent payments based on proven performance beyond deforestation to forest degradation and carbon stocks.

    Polity, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    In the short term, promote funds such as the Amazon and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) Funds to finance forest protection projects.

    In the short term, promote funds such as the Amazon and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) Funds to finance forest protection projects.

    In the short term, promote funds such as the Amazon and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) Funds to finance forest protection projects.

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    To protect forests more effectively, coordinate measures between different government institutions, establish effective monitoring systems and ensure short-term law enforcement.

    To protect forests more effectively, coordinate measures between different government institutions, establish effective monitoring systems and ensure short-term law enforcement.

    To protect forests more effectively, coordinate measures between different government institutions, establish effective monitoring systems and ensure short-term law enforcement.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    Adopt and strengthen the use of international certification schemes for sustainable origins of forest products.

    Adopt and strengthen the use of international certification schemes for sustainable origins of forest products.

    Adopt and strengthen the use of international certification schemes for sustainable origins of forest products.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2012

    In the context of a new information-based, low carbon emission economy, promote biodiversity as a prominent strategic target in global and regional development policies and planning.

    In the context of a new information-based, low carbon emission economy, promote biodiversity as a prominent strategic target in global and regional development policies and planning.

    In the context of a new information-based, low carbon emission economy, promote biodiversity as a prominent strategic target in global and regional development policies and planning.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2012

    Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests

    Solutions “Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests”Global forests have a lot to offer: clean water, fresh, climate change mitigation, food, medicine and important natural resources, such as ...

    Solutions “Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests”Global forests have a lot to offer: clean water, fresh, climate change mitigation, food, medicine and important natural resources, such as timber and paper. In recognition of its essential role for the well-being of both local people and the global community and to preserve its ecosystem services for future generations, the following solutions can help to preserve and restore sustainably managed global forests: Integrated Governance on different regional levelsExperiences from pilot projects on REDD+ and PES schemes show that a successful implementation can neither be solved on a global, nor on a national or

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2012

    Beyond carbon: Redefining forests and people in the global ecosystem services market

    The need to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is more urgent now than ever. International efforts through REDD+, CDM and voluntary carbon markets aim to encourage complement ...

    The need to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is more urgent now than ever. International efforts through REDD+, CDM and voluntary carbon markets aim to encourage complementary activities of forest preservation, reforestation, afforestation and sustainable forest management. Many existing programs for sustainable forest management, agriculture and development dovetail with payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs in their similar concerns regarding the allocation of rights and responsibilities, agreements on service provision, and the verification and quantification of benefits. Recent efforts to link biodiversity conservation with national scale REDD+ initiatives depend on the explicit regulatory linkage of biodiversity preservation goals with carbon targets. We emphasize the need to include biodiversity conservation and sustainable development as integral components of forest carbon projects. As fundamental social, political and cultural issues have yet to be addressed in the current market structure, we urge a better understanding of the tradeoffs between the full suite of ecosystem services provided by different forest types. Here, we provide a conceptual framework for the integration of payment for ecosystem services programs with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Implemen- tations

    Implementation
    Symposium 2012

    Indigenous people stop illegal logging

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society