Biodiversity co-benefits of reducing emissions from deforestation under alternative reference levels and levels of finance

This paper models national deforestation rates across 85 countries had a REDD+ mechanism been in place during the past five years (2005-2010), and studies the links between REDD+ as a climate mitigation tool, and the potential companion benefits to forest biodiversity. This paper appears in the scientific journal Conservation Letters.

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      EditImage Description:Graphic showing the projected deforestation rate (compared to actual deforeatation rate) with various levels of REDD+ funding.

      A REDD+ mechanism would have substantially reduced the combined deforestation rate across all 85 countries (compared to actual deforestation rate during that same period). More specifically, "full" financing for REDD+ over five years would have led to a drop in total deforestation of up to 68-72 percent; "partial" financing would have slashed deforestation up to 50-54 percent; and "minimal" financing would have reduced combined deforestation rates by up to 27-29 percent, according to study simulations.

      As an added benefit to REDD+ implementation, significant drops in the rate of extinctions would have simultaneously been achieved in all three financing scenarios to levels well below business as usual.

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      The extent to which an international mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) can also provide biodiversity co-benefits will depend on whether the mechanism results in the retention of forest in countries harboring substantial biodiversity. Countries’ decisions whether or not to participate in REDD+ will be influenced by their national reference level of emissions from deforestation, below which their verified emissions can be credited as reductions. In this article, we explore the reduction in extinctions of forest species achieved under four alternative national reference level designs and three alternative levels of finance for REDD+. We use an 85-country partial equilibrium model and species-area relationships to estimate extinction rates for 2,472 nationally endemic forest-dependent amphibian, bird and mammal species if a REDD+ mechanism had been in place during 2005-2010. Our results indicate that elements of REDD+ that are most effective for climate change mitigation – greater finance combined with reference levels which reduce leakage by promoting broad participation across countries with both high and low historical deforestation rates – also offer the greatest benefits for biodiversity conservation.



      Busch, J., Godoy, F., Turner, W. R. and Harvey, C. A. , Biodiversity co-benefits of reducing emissions from deforestation under alternative reference levels and levels of finance. Conservation Letters, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00150.x