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Inside the global effort to save the world’s forests

INGO-GECPO | 기사입력 2021/11/02 [14:58]

Inside the global effort to save the world’s forests

INGO-GECPO | 입력 : 2021/11/02 [14:58]

                                        Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR / 01 Nov 2021

 

A forest the size of Portugal is ripped from the earth each year, driving climate change and a host of other environmental crises, including wildfires, species extinction, and food insecurity.

 

2020 report from UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization found that, in the past 30 years,  420 million hectares of forest had been lost through conversion to other land uses (which is larger than the size of India), and that another 100 million hectares are at risk.

 

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the report stated. It warned that the Sustainable Development Goals would not be met by 2030 unless dramatic changes occurred in the agroforestry, agribusiness and agriculture sectors.

 

This critical issue has not gone unnoticed. For the last five decades, UN agencies, development institutions, governments, conservationists, the private sector and other key stakeholders have worked together to help protect the world’s forests, many of which are buckling under various pressures, including agriculture, resource extraction and illegal logging.

 

Working as a convener and catalyst, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has played an important role in supporting the global movement to slow deforestation, one that has made an impact everywhere from Vietnam to Mexico.

 

One innovative initiative, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), has played a central role in combating climate change. The protection and restoration of forests is also tied directly to the current UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The decade aims to prevent and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide and is led by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

 

“The growing enthusiasm for forests and trees is a good thing,” said Tim Christophersen, Head of UNEP’s Nature for Climate branch. “Ecosystem restoration will be critical in turning the tide against climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The first rule for ecosystem restoration is to stop the further destruction of forests, wetlands and other critical green infrastructure.”

 

We have more and more evidence on action on the ground being effective. At the same time, we cannot be complacent.

 

Mario Boccucci, UN-REDD
 

 A long-running problem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LIwOEbOtAY

 

As far back as the 1970s, UNEP had been charged with crafting an international compact capable of halting deforestation. But deep political divides – the Global North largely drove forest development, while most major forests existed in the Global South – made a global accord unlikely.

 

So, UNEP broadened tactics, working with major development agencies, such as the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme, to combat deforestation on the ground.

 

UNEP is one of the three agencies constituting the UN-REDD Programme - the UN’s knowledge and advisory programme on forests and climate - and the largest international provider of REDD+ assistance. It has also championed the Green Gigaton Challenge, an ambitious public-private partnership that aims to catalyse funding to deliver 1 gigaton (1 billion metric tonnes) by 2025 and annually after that.

 

“We have definitely seen a change in attitude at the leadership level,” said Mario Boccucci, head of the UN-REDD Secretariat. “Forest and nature-based solutions at large are more and more recognised as a key solution and constantly mentioned in global commitments. The private sector is also turning around, and a number of leading corporations and financial institutions are internalizing forest solutions in their response strategies.”

 

The growing enthusiasm for forests and trees is a good thing.

 

Tim Christophersen, UNEP
 

 Success stories

Community scout in a forest in Kenya.UNEP and UN-REDD are working with communities around the world to safeguard forests. Photo: UNEP/Will Baxter

 

Some of the world’s most vulnerable forests have benefitted from UNEP support.

 

In Vietnam, shrimp farmers got help from UN-REDD in designing an organic farming model that helps to protect fragile mangrove forests. In Nigeria, UN-REDD programmes promoted forest management and biodiversity conservation, improving rural livelihoods. In Mongolia, UN-REDD is helping develop a national forest and climate change strategy focused on sustainable forest management. And in Colombia, local communities were brought into the conservation dialogue through UN-REDD supported workshops and training sessions.

 

UNEP has also pushed the international finance sector to provide real valuations for forest loss and to tie development to green standards and fair-trade practices.

 

“It is critical that the economics of ecosystem conservation becomes overwhelmingly compelling, “ said Gabriel Labatte, the UN-REDD Global Team Leader at UNEP. “Valuation of natural resources is important. However, it is more important to implement results-based payment mechanisms that make ecosystem conservation and restoration an attractive alternative.”

 

UNEP recently worked with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to assess global rates of forest loss and joined with the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and six African nations to launch the $63 million Congo Basin Sustainable Landscapes Program in 2019. That is a key initiative, say experts, since Africa had the highest net loss of forest area from 2010 to 2020 and Africa’s rate of deforestation is on the rise.

Forest and nature-based solutions at large are more and more recognized as a key solution and constantly mentioned in global commitments.

 

Mario Boccucci, UN-REDD
 

A safe harbour

A fisher casts a net on a small lake in Indonesia.Forests are essential stores of the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet, soaking up 30 percent of all emissions from fossil fuels and industry. Photo: Ricky Martin/CIFOR

 

Forests cover approximately 31 percent of the global land area and provide habitat for the vast majority of the terrestrial plant and animal species known to science. Forests and the biodiversity they contain continue to be under threat from farming and exploitation, much of it illegal.

 

Large-scale commercial agriculture, such as cattle ranching and the cultivation of soya bean and oil palm, accounted for 40 percent of all tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent. Forests also provide more than 86 million green jobs and an estimated 880 million people worldwide spend part of their time collecting fuelwood or producing charcoal, many of them women.

 

Forests are also key in the battle against climate change. They are essential stores of the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet, soaking up 30 percent of all emissions from fossil fuels and industry.

 

“We have more and more evidence on action on the ground being effective,” Boccucci said. “At the same time, we cannot be complacent as much more needs to be done. And that is where the UN, through its leadership, convening power and neutral broker capacities can continue to play an important role in the future.”

 

This story is part of a series related to UNEP’s 50th anniversary. For other articles and a timeline of environmental milestones during the past half century, please visit our UNEP@50 section.

 

01 Nov 2021 Story Forests

Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

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