REDD+: How tackling climate change can be the biggest conservation opportunity in history


Copenhagen, Denmark – Efforts to prevent climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) will not only help humanity to overcome this colossal challenge, but will also slow the shocking decline in the world’s biodiversity, a new scientific paper shows.

The paper “Opportunities for achieving biodiversity conservation through REDD” highlights that revenues developing countries receive under almost any REDD+ scheme would be the biggest investment in tropical forests in history and will likely lead to significant biodiversity conservation gains. If designed carefully, a REDD+ scheme could also have the potential to maximize both the opportunities to prevent climate change, and the opportunities to preserve biodiversity.

Dr Celia Harvey, Vice President of Global Change and Ecosystem Services and co author of the report said: “The priority of REDD+ funding, should, of course, be the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation – but REDD+ offers many other benefits, and one of the key ones is the huge impact it will have on biodiversity conservation.”

The report appears online in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, and is being previewed at the Copenhagen climate conference. It outlines a variety of options for how to achieve biodiversity conservation through REDD+, and highlights the many synergies between mitigation and conservation goals. It stresses the importance of ensuring that REDD+ is included in the new climate agreement and that REDD+ is designed to maximize the area of tropical forest conserved.

“The bottom line is that the more forest we protect, especially old growth forests, the better the result for both climate change and for conservation. Properly implemented, a REDD+ mechanism that maximizes forest cover can have massive positive benefits for biodiversity,” said report Co-Author Cyril Kormos, Vice President for Policy at the WILD foundation. “But the way REDD+ is implemented is critical. It’s essential that REDD+ does not allow for conversion of natural forests to plantations and it must benefit local communities and indigenous peoples and respect their rights.”

The report concludes that getting urgent agreement on a REDD+ mechanism that protects as much tropical forest as possible is critical to tackling climate change and that, even if the mechanism is not specifically set up to prioritize biodiversity considerations in the short term, it will nonetheless create huge gains for biodiversity conservation as a result of the forests protected. Dr Harvey added: “This is a monumental – and short lived – opportunity for people and for nature – an opportunity that the international community cannot afford to miss.”


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“Opportunities for achieving biodiversity conservation through REDD”
Published in Conservation Letters
Authors:  Celia A. Harvey, Barney Dickson, & Cyril Kormos
Date: Received: 18 August 2009; accepted 9 November 2009.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00086.x