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Terrestrial Ecosystems


Terrestrial Ecosystems

UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN REDD)
The UN-REDD Programme was launched as a collaborative initiative between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The Programme’s main aim is to contribute to the development of capacity for implementing REDD and to support the international dialogue for the inclusion of a REDD mechanism in a post-2012 climate regime. The UN-REDD Programme will initially run until March 2010.  

Key Facts

  • REDD was first introduced on the UNFCCC agenda at the Conference of the Parties (COP11) in December 2005
  • At COP-13, Norway pledged an annual contribution of up to 3 billion Norwegian Kroners (432 million US dollars) towards a global initiative on REDD
  • The challenge is to set up a functioning international REDD finance mechanism that can be included in an agreed post-2012
  • UNEP hosts the secretariat of the UN-REDD Programme, for which Norway has donated US$ 35 million 

 Reducing carbon emissions from forests
Trees and forests provide us with essential health, recreational, aesthetic, and other benefits, many of which we literally can’t live without. Unfortunately, forest management in some parts of the world has traditionally focused less on the services provided by forest ecosystems and more on the timber that could be produced  

Between 1990 and 2005, the rate of deforestation has averaged about 13 million hectares a year, occurring mostly in tropical countries. We are now losing about 200 square km - an equivalent of 18,100 soccer playing fields - daily 

The loss of forests releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The forestry sector, mainly through deforestation, accounts for about 17% of global greenhouse emissions, making it the second largest greenhouse source after the energy sector 

As the forests disappear, the natural sink they provide for absorbing of carbon dioxide is lost with them. This leaves more carbon in the atmosphere and exacerbates global  warming  At the United Nations Framework Convention on  Climate Change (UNFCCC) 13th Conference of Parties  (COP-13) in December 2007, Parties agreed to step-up efforts towards reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries 

To effectively combat deforestation and forest degradation, countries need regulatory frameworks. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) teamed up in the UN-REDD Programme, a unique   collaborative initiative It seeks to strengthen the international policy dialogue on REDD and build confidence among negotiators and Parties to include REDD in new and more comprehensive climate change agreements after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
The UN-REDD programme is also helping nine pilot  countries to manage their forests in a manner that maximizes their carbon stocks and maintains their ecosystem  services and while delivering community and livelihood  benefits  Countries that have been identified for the  quick start phase are Bolivia, Democratic Republic of  Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay,  Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia  These countries are in  the process of developing national strategies, establishing robust systems for monitoring, assessment, reporting and verification of forest cover and carbon stocks 

This quick start phase will pave the way for long-term engagement of REDD in the carbon market through payment for ecosystem services. To facilitate this, the project is working on decreasing delivery risk and structuring transparent, equitable incentives .UN-REDD’s high level collaboration and community level engagement seeks to ensure that local experiences inform the global legislative action that will  in turn have impacts on local communities

UNEP is also working with some of the countries in the  quick start phase in related initiatives such as the Great  Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), which is set to launch  pilot activities to test the potential for achieving UNREDD’s objectives in Central Africa and Southeast Asia 

Key Facts

  • 1988: Protected area management programme ECOFAC (Ecosystèmes
  • Forestieres D’Afrique Centrale) is born; focuses on the six countries
  • 1996: Conference on the Dense Moist Forests of Central Africa (CEFDHAC) highlights need for regional collaboration
  • 1999: Yaounde Declaration on the Congo Basin forest, by Heads of State; gives birth to COMIFAC
  • 2000: COMIFAC meets for the first time in Yaounde approves the COMIFAC Convergence Plan
  • 2002: The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development


 Resuscitating the second lung
The Congo basin forest stretches across Cameroon, Central African Republic the Democratic Republic of the Cong (DRC) Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo Some 60 million people from these countries depend on it for their sustenance   The Congo basin forest is a natural mosaic of 400 mammalian species, 280 reptile species, 900 butterfly species and 10,000 plant species. At 2 million square kilometers, it is the second largest rainforest in the world, second only to the Amazon forest in Latin America. However, the forest is under serious threat from a combination of factors like illegal logging and settlements, shifting agriculture, population growth, oil and mining industries. The forest is losing 1.5 million hectares - half of Lesotho - every year 

To stem this loss, UNEP is working with Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) to conserve 29 protected areas, and promote sustainable forestry and community-based conservation in 11 priority landscapes spanning the Congo basin  UNEP is supporting the Goodwill Ambassador of the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem, the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai in her endeavours. Her role is to engage donors in high level lobbying on behalf of the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem. She also serves as the co-chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund So far the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom have contributed US$ 200 million to the Fund.

The Fund is tailored to develop viable alternatives to logging, mining, and felling trees for firewood and subsistence farming. Funded activities will follow guidelines established by the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) Convergence Plan, which is a common vision for sustainable and joint management of the sub-region’s forest resources

DRC, which hosts 54% of the Congo basin forest,  is one of the nine pilot countries in the UN-REDD  Programme, an initiative that seeks to maintain forest ecosystem services and maximize their carbon stocks  while delivering community and livelihood benefits. The country is in the process of developing a national strategy for monitoring, assessment, reporting and verification of forest cover and carbon stocks. Through its Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), UNEP is helping countries halt encroachment into DRC’s Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest park. The park is home to 50% of the mountain gorilla population and to numerous other endemic and endangered species UNEP’s work in Virunga is part of a broader initiative that is assisting governments in drafting and developing national environmental laws, regulations and guidelines. In addition, the wide-ranging strategy also includes post-conflict environmental assessment that mirrors similar assessments undertaken by UNEP in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Lebanon and the Sudan 

Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)
Great ape populations are declining at an alarming rate worldwide. The continuing destruction of habitat, in combination with the growth in the commercial bushmeat trade in Africa and increased logging activities in Indonesia, have led scientists to suggest that the majority of great ape populations may be extinct in our lifetime. 

Key Facts

  • GRASP is a Type II Partnership (WSSD), launched in May 2001

  • Great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans) are found in Africa 2009 - the International Year of the Gorilla and South-East Asia

 Guarding the forest guardian
"Saving the great apes is also about saving people.  By conserving the great apes, we can protect the livelihoods of many people who rely on forests for food, clean water and much else Indeed, the fate of the great apes has both practical and symbolic implications for the ability of human beings to move to a sustainable future "
Koffi Annan, former UN Secretary General  

Great apes live in forest ecosystems of 23 African and Asian countries (range States). With the mantle of ecosystem sustainability draped around their shoulders, great apes play a key role in maintaining the health and diversity of their ecosystems, usually through seed dispersal and creation of gaps in the forest canopy  

This accords them a key status as flagship species. A decline of their populations is a key signal of an underlying decrease of other species in the ecosystems  

Great apes   are faced with unprecedented threats from  the combined effects of hunting, illegal logging and forest land farming.They could vanish from the wild in  less than 50 years   UNEP’s Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) aims to  conserve viable populations of great apes and their  forest habitats through pro-poor conservation and  sustainable development strategies. These forested tropical ecosystems regulate the climate and provide food, water, medicine and timber  

Although widespread illegal logging remains a challenge, GRASP’s actions led to the seizure of 70,000 cubic metres of illegal timber in Indonesia in 2007 In the same year, GRASP worked with partners to raise awareness on the impacts of degazetting two forest  reserves in Uganda  Such e  orts assist to protect forests  legislatively and socially, by sensitizing communities on  the value of forest ecosystems   

In line with the Kinshasa Declaration, GRASP provided  financial support to twenty-seven  field projects in the  range countries  The projects strengthened community  participation in biodiversity decision-making in seven  range States  They also resulted in strengthened wildlife  law enforcement in Cameroon, Democratic Republic  of Congo and Indonesia, the High Conservation  Value Forest (HCFV ) Land Assessments and models in  Indonesia

Apart from facilitating the field projects, GRASP provided  technical support to 20 range States  This support  strengthened the policies of national authorities in nine  countries  It also improved trans-boundary collaboration  between seven West, Central and East African range  states  Such teamwork is the essence of GRASP  It plays a  key role in GRASP’s e  ort to tap into its ability to leverage  political support and technical expertise to help mitigate dangers posed to great ape populations and their  habitats

Mau Forest Complex
The Mau Complex forms the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem of Kenya, as large as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare combined. It is the single most important water catchment in Rift Valley and western Kenya. Through the ecological services provided by its forests, the Mau Complex is a natural asset of national importance that supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley and western Kenya, including energy, tourism, agriculture (cash crops such as tea and rice; subsistence crops; and livestock) and water supply.

Key Facts

  • The Mau Forest Complex is the origin of the main rivers flowing into five lakes: Victoria; Turkana, Baringo, Nakuru, and Natron
  • Over 5 million people live in the sub-locations crossed by these rivers
  • The Mau Complex has a total hydropower potential of 508 MW, which represents 50% of the current total installed capacity in Kenya
  • USD286 million - the current annual market value of goods and services from tea, tourism and energy sectors in the ecosystems

Protecting Kenya’s water towers
The Mau Forest Complex which at 400,000 hectares is seven times the size of Nairobi sits on aquifers that provide water to millions of people in the Rift Valley and western Kenya. The Mau comprises 16 contiguous forest blocks, gazetted as forest reserves or trust land forest. It also includes six satellite forest blocks that are not adjacent to the main blocks but are part of the same ecosystem   

Over the years, almost a quarter of this forest has been lost to human settlements, illegal logging, farming and a host of other human activities   

Mau’s plight became national news when Kenya’s Prime Minister and the Minister FOR Environment overflew the area in UNEP-organized reconnaissance flights  What  they saw in Mau were vast clearings of land that are manifestation of a dramatically receding forest

UNEP is supporting the Government of Kenya through its ecosystem management programme to realign its environmental programmes to tackle the Mau Forests’ degradation  

UNEP’s assessments have unveiled Mau’s immense value. At least twelve rivers spring out from the Mau and flow to different corners of the country. Together with other ecosystem services, the rivers breathe life and vitality into the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, Serengeti and Lake Nakuru National Parks UNEP’s assessments also found that for every clearing in the Mau forest, there was another part of the ecosystem that suffered consequences  

With the advice of UNEP and its other partners, the government of Kenya has set up a Task Force to conserve these forest ecosystems on which millions of Kenyans depend for sustenance. As technical advisor of this Task Force, UNEP has placed on the table a set of technological and development options   Based Integrated Forest Resource Conservation and Management Project (COMIFORM) UNEP and its partners are engaging the local community around this forest block in managing the forest COMIFORM aims to help local communities develop alternative sustainable sources of income without reversing the gains made in conserving the forest. The project is anchored on participatory forest management, a system that clearly defines the stakes that a community has in a forest, thus enabling people to embrace and protect the forest as The Maasai Mau forest, which is one of the 16 their own forests in Mau Complex, is hosting the Community