Ending deforestation is smart policy: officials

Lisa Anderson PlanetArk 23 Sep 14;

Policies to end deforestation are essential for curbing climate change and can also support economic development, top government and business officials said.

"Putting a stop to deforestation is the smart thing to do," Justine Greening, Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, told a panel discussion in New York on the eve of the U.N. Climate Summit.

"Without action, the world will get hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in the years to come. There is no point building a health clinic for poor people in Bangladesh if it will get washed away by the next floods," she said.

Deforestation is the world's second largest source of planet-warming gases, and a threat to the livelihoods of over a billion indigenous people who depend on forest resources, experts say.

Cutting down forests reduces their capacity to store carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and also destabilizes slopes, worsening the risk of landslides.

The meeting at the Ford Foundation assembled representatives of business, governments and indigenous people to call for an end to deforestation.

Greening announced that Britain will invest $137 million over the next three years in governance reform to end illegal logging. It will also provide $97 million for programs encouraging businesses to end deforestation in their supply chains and commit to sustainable natural resources.


Global food and care products giant Unilever is one of a growing number of companies that have pledged to do so.

"By 2020 we're not going to sell anything anymore if it comes as a result of illegal deforestation," said Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

Noting that around half of deforestation is due to the need to cultivate more food crops, Polman said companies like his must source commodities - particularly palm oil, soy, beef and timber - in a way that doesn't harm forests.

"Sustainable growth in terms of fighting climate change does not have to go against economic development," said Polman.

"We are the first generation who has ever had to deal with climate change. It is our choice if we want to be the last generation," he added.


Governments must also take measures to guarantee the rights of indigenous people whose land is threatened when it is leased to corporations that clear forests to make way for farming and ranching, said Daniel Azeredo Avelino, chief federal prosecutor of Brazil's Para state.

Satellite technology has allowed Brazilian prosecutors to identify remote areas where deforestation is occurring, particularly in the Amazon where much indigenous land is located, he said.

Forest leaders will say on Tuesday they plan to use cutting-edge technologies like drones and a new mapping system for tracking deforestation in real time to ensure promises made at the New York climate summit are kept.

But advocating for the land rights of indigenous people has become a dangerous undertaking when it conflicts with commercial interests, several speakers noted at Monday's panel discussion.

Earlier this month in Peru, four indigenous activists campaigning to safeguard forests, including Edwin Chota, were believed to have been killed by illegal loggers, said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. That is why discussions to end deforestation are so important, he added.

"We want to save the forests, but there is no protection for the people who save the forests," said Abdon Nababan, secretary general of Indonesia's Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago.

(Editing by Megan Rowling)

More nations commit to fight climate change by restoring forests
IUCN 23 Sep 14;

New York, 23 September 2014 – World leaders announced new pledges to restore over 30 million hectares of degraded forest lands today at the UN Climate Summit in New York. The commitments come from Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, and Uganda, among others, and more than doubled the number of hectares contributing to achieving the Bonn Challenge—a global goal to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020.

These announcements came alongside an extension of the global restoration target to at least 350 million hectares—an area greater than the size of India—to be restored by 2030. This new target was unveiled at the Summit today in the New York Declaration on Forests. The Declaration, signed by IUCN, as well as more than 100 countries, corporations, indigenous peoples and civil society also calls for a halving of deforestation rates by 2020 and an end to global deforestation altogether by 2030.

“The courageous leadership demonstrated by these countries towards achieving the Bonn Challenge, and by the wide range of global leaders in support of the New York Declaration on Forests, underlines that nature-based solutions such as forest landscape restoration can play a vital role in our fight against climate change and addressing the fundamental need to reduce emissions,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN.

IUCN estimates that meeting the 150 million hectare Bonn Challenge target alone could add approximately US$ 85 billion to national and local economies and remove an additional one billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Today's pledges by countries in Africa and Latin America to combat deforestation and more than double restoration targets will bring significant climate benefits. At the same time, such inspiring initiatives will contribute significantly to poverty reduction, economic development and food security across countries and regions."

The restoration pledges and the New York Declaration on Forests arrive in preparation for next year’s climate talks in Paris, which are largely expected to result in a new global climate deal. Progress in New York signals significant support for ramping up restoration of lost and degraded forest lands as part of the post-2015 Paris climate agreements and development agenda.

“Restoration of degraded and deforested lands is not simply about planting trees, said Bianca Jagger, IUCN Ambassador for the Bonn Challenge, and Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation. “People and communities are at the heart of the restoration effort, which transforms barren or degraded areas of land into healthy, fertile working landscapes.”

“The New York Declaration on Forests is a milestone as we enter the restoration generation,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “It’s a triple win that can bring more water and food security, improve livelihoods, and help tackle climate change. We look forward to working with leaders to help ensure that they deliver on these commitments that will benefit people and the planet,”

Restoration pledges to the Bonn Challenge represent commitments from the highest level to start actual restoration work on the ground in support of each nation’s or organization’s individual objectives.

“IUCN-led work on forest landscape restoration began in the field and is now back in the field,” said Stewart Maginnis, Global Director of Nature-Based Solutions at IUCN. “What started as a grassroots approach to address local needs and challenges has now captured the attention of public, private, and civil society leaders around the world. These leaders are now initiating action on the ground to simultaneously meet local needs and international climate change commitments.”

Details on individual pledges will be available after the national announcements at the New York Climate Summit on September 23 at http://www.bonnchallenge.org

UN climate summit pledges to halt the loss of natural forests by 2030
New York declaration on forests could cut carbon emissions equivalent of taking all the world’s cars off the road
Press Association theguardian.com 23 Aug 14;

Governments, multinational companies and campaigners are pledging to halt the loss of the world’s natural forests by 2030.

A declaration announced as part of a UN summit on climate change being held in New York also pledges to halve the rate of deforestation by the end of this decade and to restore hundreds of millions of acres of degraded land.

Backers of the New York declaration on forests claim their efforts could save between 4.5bn and 8.8bn tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking all the world’s cars off the road.

The UK, Germany and Norway have pledged to enter into up to 20 programmes over the next couple of years to pay countries for reducing their deforestation, which could be worth more than £700m.

Companies such as Kellogg’s, Marks & Spencer, Barclays, Nestle, the palm oil giant Cargill, Asia Pulp and Paper and charities including the RSPB, WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have signed the declaration.

The declaration’s supporters say ending the loss of the world’s natural forests will be an important part of limiting global temperature rises to 2C, beyond which the worst impacts of climate change are expected to be felt.

It comes after analysis suggests that land use change such as deforestation accounts for around 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, with carbon dioxide released when trees are felled and burned to free up land for agriculture or development.

“Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today,” the declaration says.

“Action to conserve, sustainably manage and restore forests can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.”

Signatories to the declaration are committing to a number of steps to halt forest loss, including backing a private sector goal of eliminating deforestation from producing agricultural products such as palm oil, soy, paper and beef by no later than 2020.

They are also seeking to support alternatives to deforestation which is caused by subsistence farming and the need for wood fuel for energy and reward countries that reduce forest emissions.

The countries, businesses, charities and indigenous groups are also committing to restoring 150m hectares (370m acres) of degraded landscapes and forest areas by 2020, and speed up restoration so that another 200m hectares are restored by 2030.

Restoration of 350m hectares by the end of the next decade – an area greater than the whole of India – would have benefits for the climate by storing carbon and take pressure off primary forests.

The declaration is a key announcement at the UN climate summit, attended by more than 120 leaders including David Cameron, which aims to drive action ahead of talks in Paris next year when it is hoped a new global climate treaty will be agreed.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who convened the summit, said: “The New York declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the United States emits annually, and it doesn’t stop there.

“Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution – the actions agreed today will reduce poverty, enhance food security, improve the rule of law, secure the rights of indigenous peoples and benefit communities around the world.”

John Lanchbery, the RSPB’s principal climate change adviser, said many of the companies which had signed up alongside the wildlife charity and other conservation organisations had historically played a role in tropical deforestation.
He said they had either been directly involved in forest clearance or involved in supply chains that caused significant deforestation.

“Some have been a major part of the deforestation problem. They must also, however, be a major part of the solution. Signing up to the forest declaration shows their intention to change their ways and reduce deforestation dramatically.

“We welcome their willingness to change, although we will continue make sure that they really do,” he said.

Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the companies that has been attacked by green groups over deforestation in Indonesia, but which last year outlined a “forest conservation policy” committing to ending loss of rainforests, has signed the pledge.

Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, said: “We have shown through our own zero deforestation policies that ambitious targets to protect the world’s remaining forests can be agreed, implemented and achieved by companies operating in emerging economies.

“Our view is that wherever a company is involved in the forest supply chain, they should be implementing these policies immediately. There is no time to waste.”

But Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, which has not signed the declaration, said there was a need for strong laws to protect forests and people, and warned that the pledge was missing ambitious targets and tangible actions.

“Halting the global loss of natural forests by 2030 and eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodities by 2020 at the latest would mean that years of continued forest clearance still lie ahead of us.

“While we are celebrating announcements on paper today, forests and forest peoples are facing imminent threats that must be averted if we want the declaration to become reality,” he said.