The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?

 Watch a new animated film about REDD below! The film was launched at the annual meeting of the Forest Movement Europe in Portugal and it attempts to explain issues of over-consumption that drive global deforestation in a simple way. 

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The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?

By REDD-Monitor, 1st May 2012

A new animated film about REDD was launched yesterday at the annual meeting of the Forest Movement Europe in Portugal. “This film attempts to explain the key issues in a simple to understand way,” says Wolfgang Kuhlmann of ARA, one of the seven NGOs that produced the film.

“Global deforestation cannot be solved without addressing the over-consumption that drives deforestation,” Kuhlmann adds.

In addition to ARA, six NGOs were involved in producing the film: Amis de la Terre, Euronatura, FERN, Forest Peoples Programme, Iroko, Pro-Regenwald, Rainforest Foundation UK and Terra!* The film is posted below, with a script and links to sources below that (this is also available as a pdf file). The video is also available in French and Spanish.


The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?


Forests cover about 30 per cent of the world’s land area. They play a vital role in the water cycle and are home to most of the world’s biodiversity.


More than one in six people on the planet depend directly on forests for their livelihoods. Indigenous peoples and local communities living in the forests, have done most to protect them. But many do not have secure rights to the land they live on which means forests are under more and more pressure.


But forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Industrialised countries have destroyed most of their forests already, and


… pressure from growing global consumption is now driving deforestation in the South.


Forests are being logged and converted into agriculture plots and plantations


… producing feed for the meat industry and being cleared for mining.


This forest destruction is displacing forest dependent peoples, often destroying their livelihoods and resulting in human rights abuses.


Deforestation is also one of the main causes of climate change. Although the majority of global carbon dioxide emissions come from burning fossil fuels, cutting down trees also contributes to carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere.


When forests are burnt or chopped down, the carbon they had been storing is released back into the atmosphere.


In order to reduce deforestation, it is first necessary to know what’s causing it.


Global consumption of forest and agricultural products is one of the main drivers of deforestation. Seventy per cent of previously forested land in the Amazon is occupied by cattle pastures.


Paper supplies, processed foods, and many other things for sale in high streets and supermarkets directly or indirectly cause deforestation.


And that creates pressure on land in the global South which is increasing deforestation.


Deforestation is also driven by a lack of clarity about who owns the forest.


Poor governance leads to bad government land use policies


… often fed by high levels of corruption.


How can we stop this? To tackle deforestation you need to tackle the causes of deforestation, but the United Nations and the World Bank have something else in mind …


Following global concern about the effect of deforestation on climate change, the United Nations and World Bank began pushing REDD, a solution to reduce the EMISSIONS from deforestation and forest degradation.


The present focus of REDD is to get money for forest protection by quantifying emissions reductions from not cutting down forests …


… and then selling ‘forest carbon credits’ on a ‘carbon market’.


Polluting companies or industrial countries who need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will then buy these ‘credits’ so they can continue emitting greenhouse gases.


This means lots of profit for middlemen and traders … But very little for the people who live in the forest.


In order to see whether their plan for reducing deforestation through REDD will work, we should start by looking at how it deals with the causes of deforestation:

Does it strengthen the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities who have historically protected their forests?


Although REDD could in theory do this, in practice by increasing the value of forests, the promise of REDD money has meant that forests are much more under threat of governments taking state ownership of forest lands and erasing the chance for communities to get their land rights recognised.


Any ‘solution’ to deforestation that disrespects the rights of local peoples is not only unjust, it is also deeply ineffective.


Reducing deforestation will require unsustainable consumption of meat, fuel, food and fibre to be reduced. This has to be an initiative of global North and must be prioritised in government policies. It cannot be a short-cut or dealt with by someone else, somewhere else.


The best way to save forests is to respect forest peoples’ rights to collectively held land.


So rather than trying to tackle the problem by focusing on counting carbon and then selling it … solutions must focus on removing the pressure on forests. REDD is currently not doing that and so risks creating more problems than it solves.


Any attempt to reduce deforestation must work with, not against forest peoples.


The first step must be to ensure forest communities have secure rights to the land they live on … it will require political will and national consultative processes, but it is the best chance we have to achieve a just long term reduction in deforestation.