Article / 21 Mar, 2019
A Look at REDD+ on International Day of Forests

UN Climate Change News, 21 March 2019 – Forests and their sustainable management play a key role in the global carbon cycle and in tackling climate change. Today is International Day of Forests 2019, with a focus on education – a great opportunity to look at what the UN is doing protect forests through the “REDD+” policy framework.

Forests cover 30% of the Earth's land surface, their capacity to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere is a critical contribution to reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

At the same time, forests deliver critical ecosystem services to rural communities and society, supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, for example by providing clean air and water, reducing the risk of natural disasters, conserving biodiversity and providing shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.

Proper education on forests, forestry and forest science is critical to achieve such multiple benefits through applied science and adaptive forest management.

Not only physically planting trees and protecting existing forests is crucial - it is equally important to understand that being able to measure the extent of forest area, the carbon stocks stored in forests, and the contribution of forests to the economy is necessary to design effective policies to manage forests to the benefit of people and the climate.

REDD+ is a key component of global forest protection

Advancements in this area in the past decade have allowed forest countries to get a better understanding of their forest resources and start implementing REDD+.

REDD+ is a framework negotiated under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to address the challenge of deforestation and forest degradation.

Currently, about 11 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and forest degradation, but both result in the destruction of forests and their ability to provide ecosystem services while releasing further greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Once successfully implemented in a way that leads to improvements in forest management and reduction of emissions, REDD+ countries are eligible for results-based payments.

To get to this point, the first critical step in measuring results from REDD+ implementation is the estimation of a reference level, against which the reduction of deforestation can be measured. Such a REDD+ “reference level” serves as a benchmark for assessing each country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities. To build capacity in developing countries and ensure methodological robustness, each REDD+ reference level submitted voluntarily to the UNFCCC is subject to a technical assessment.

A good example of what is possible is the decision of the Green Climate Fund to pay Brazil USD 96.5 million for keeping Amazon forests standing in 2014 and 2015.

UNFCCC plays a key role in forest protection through REDD+

The technical assessment is organized once per year by the UNFCCC secretariat. This includes a centralized technical assessment week in Bonn, where two independent forest experts assess the data and information provided by the country and engage in an in-depth facilitative dialogue on the methodologies used, and how the estimates could be further improved in order to be more accurate, transparent, complete and consistent.

To date, 39 countries have voluntarily submitted a REDD+ reference level for technical assessment, covering 70% of forest area in developing countries.

On International Day of Forests today, experts are busy with a REDD+ reference level technical assessment session.

This week, 14 forest experts have come to Bonn to assess the reference level submissions of Argentina, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Solomon Islands.

It’s great to see the tireless efforts of these highly motivated and skillful forest experts in contributing to the well-being of our forests!

Start educating yourself on forests and REDD+ implementation on the UNFCCC REDD+ web platform here.