CDM forestry rules need reform
The CDM’s forest carbon rules surrounding eligibility of both land and activity type need to be reformed if the forest sector is going to make its contribution to the climate change mitigation effort, argues Dr Promode Kant of India’s Institute of Green Economy:
Until today forestry projects form a bare 0.53 per cent of all registered CDM projects because it is almost impossible to find eligible lands for CDM forestry projects that are also biologically suitable for raising trees. The lands most suitable for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, without compromising food security, are the degraded forest lands that extend over 280 million hectares (Mha) worldwide. But most of these lands do not qualify as CDM rules permit only forestation over non forest lands even though under Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol, forest management for enhancing carbon sequestration and storage is an eligible activity for Annex I countries to meet their emission reduction targets. This has deprived impoverished forest communities from using their skills for enhancing the carbon sequestration and storage in forests under their control and improve their economic situation. In India alone, there are almost 100,000 Joint Forest Management Committees which are legally empowered to manage forest within their identified jurisdictions but are unable to exercise this option.
The core defining requirements of a CDM project, that are both necessary and sufficient, are real, measurable and long term climate change mitigation benefits leading towards sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. Since improved forest management for enhanced carbon sequestration meets these requirements it should become a permissible CDM activity making as much as 280 MHa available for CDM forestry projects across the world without threatening the food security. Millions of men and women among the rural communities spread across the developing world can then begin taking active part in climate change mitigation and benefit economically.