Forest goods and services support the livelihoods of over 1 billion people, most of whom are poor and live in developing countries. They also sustain over 50 percent of the Earth’s species, regulate our climate through the carbon cycle, and protect watersheds. Yet this priceless resource, a fundamental component of our ecological infrastructure, is being threatened by deforestation and forest degradation at a rate of 13 million hectares per year.
Halting deforestation may be a good investment: models suggest that investing just US$ 40 billion per year from 2010 to 2050 in reforestation and payments to landholders for conservation could raise value added in the forest industry by 20 percent, and at the same time increase forest carbon storage by 28 percent.
What is needed is a stable global regime that would attract investment in forest-derived goods and assure their equitable and sustainable production. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) may offer one of the best possibilities for establishing this type of regime. REDD aims to create financial value for forest carbon storage, while REDD+ goes beyond the programme’s initial mission and includes conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhancing forest stocks.
For a closer look at greener forests and UNEP’s work on sustainable management and financing, please visit the REDD website.