Many developing countries’ plans for curbing deforestation in return for payments from richer nations don’t tackle the key reason for cutting down forests – agriculture, the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany heard.
A new analysis presented at the conference says very few strategies drawn up by forest rich nations under the United Nations’ enhanced Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme address the link between agriculture and deforestation.
This omission is despite many of these nations acknowledging that agriculture is a key driver of deforestation, says the analysis by the Consultative Group International Agricultural Research – a world leading group of agricultural science centres. (See here and here for Nature’s recent coverage of REDD+)
“There is simply no way governments can have credible REDD+ strategies unless their top priority is to address agriculture and food security – these are the main drivers of forest destruction,” said Bruce Campbell leader of CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which produced the analysis.
The researchers examined REDD+ “readiness proposals” submitted by 20 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. The facility is providing US$345 million to developing countries to prepare deforestation strategies.
Sixteen of the 20 countries studied cited agriculture as the primary driver of deforestation and forest degradation. The other four cited mining and logging as the main factor, but indicated that agriculture was among the top three. Meanwhile 15 out of 20 countries said that efforts were underway to expand commercial and agriculture production to serve urban and export markets or satisfy rising international demand for biofuels.
Frances Seymour, director general of the CGIAR Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia said that respecting the opinions and rights of local land owners can help meet the dual goals of boosting agricultural production and curbing desforestation.
“If governments are committed to addressing local land tenure and access rights to forest resources, facilitating fair and transparent landuse planning, and taking forest-based ecosystem services into account, they can support the achievement of both agriculture and REDD+ objectives,” she said.
Picture: Jungle burned for agriculture in southern Mexico / Wikipedia