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Research Report

Do Trees Grow on Money?: The implications of deforestation research for policies to promote REDD

Markku Kanninen
Daniel Murdiyarso
Frances Seymour
Arild Angelsen
Sven Wunder
Laura German
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Pages: 73
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-4)

    Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities are a major source of carbon emissions and active contributors to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that 1.6 billion tons of carbon is released annually due to land-use change, of which the major part is traced to tropical deforestation (Denman et al. 2007). This represents about one fifth of current global carbon emissions, which is more than what emanates from the fossil fuel-intensive global transport sector.

    Deforestation avoidance was not accepted as an eligible Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) activity in the Marrakesh Accords, due to problems related...

  2. (pp. 5-14)

    Deforestation is a significant feature of global environmental change. High rates of tropical deforestation have severe consequences for climate change, loss of biodiversity, flooding, siltation and soil degradation. Further, deforestation poses threats to the livelihoods and cultural integrity of forest-dependent people and the supply of timber and non-timber forest products for future generations.

    The term “deforestation” is used quite variably, so it is important to have a precise definition. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) uses two different parameters in defining deforestation. First, based on land use, deforestation is defined as the conversion of forest land...

  3. (pp. 15-28)

    The design of effective REDD regimes requires a clear understanding of the causes of deforestation and degradation. Fortunately, a large body of research exists that illuminates those causes. The following section summarizes the key findings.

    As explained in the previous section, deforestation may be defined as a reduction of canopy cover below 10 per cent. As a result, significant degradation can take place before crossing the threshold to deforestation. A selective logging operation usually does not reduce canopy cover to that extent, leading to forest degradation rather than deforestation. Deforestation is normally a more drastic land-use change, often characterized by...

  4. (pp. 29-44)

    The research summarized in Section 3 on the underlying causes of deforestation and degradation suggests policy options for addressing the trends described in Section 2.

    A decade ago, Kaimowitz et al. (1998) undertook a thorough analysis of policies to abate deforestation. The paper proposed a normative distinction between “appropriate” and “inappropriate” deforestation. “Appropriate” deforestation derives from recognition that some forest clearance supports development objectives, such as when low-utility forests are converted to other land uses that provide higher and/or longer lasting benefits. “Inappropriate” deforestation occurs when forests are converted to less suitable land uses at the expense of important forest...

  5. (pp. 45-52)

    Deforestation and forest degradation result from intricate relationships among social, economic, environmental and political factors. It is difficult to make generalizations about the causes of forest loss and degradation, and to propose generally appropriate responses. Accordingly, there is seldom a one-size-fits-all solution. Different regions feature different underlying and proximate deforestation causes, and different capacities to respond, thus calling for responses tailored to specific contexts.

    At the same time, the challenge is also inherently simple: forest land is being cleared for alternative uses or degraded by individual, corporate or government actors who can get a higher return by being involved in...