Germany, GTZ: Federal Government signs agreement on forest-protection projects
In the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (29.11. – 10.12.2010 in Cancun, Mexico), the Federal Government signed an agreement with the World Bank on the funding of forest-protection projects.
Germany contributes 44 million Euros under the so-called Forest Carbon Partnership. This sum makes up part of the total of 1.26 billion Euros over three years that were promised at the UN Conference in Copenhagen a year ago. A Fast-Start programme for climate protection and adaptation to the effects of climate change was adopted at the Copenhagen conference.
The clearing of forests and woodland is the second-largest cause of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, after the energy sector.Sustainable use of forests could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent. However, the aim is not to regard forests purely as CO2 sinks and use them solely for carbon capture and storage. The key is in providing protection by using the resources intelligently. The forestry sector must ensure that forests are able to perform their ecological, social and economic function. To this end, the sector requires a corresponding framework that protects forests from overexploitation and unregulated conversion. Germany therefore staunchly backs the so-called REDD process (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).
The REDD process
The abbreviation stands for “Reduced emissions from forest degradation and deforestation”.
The idea is based on the function that forests perform as carbon sinks in global material cycles. Under this process, the stored carbon is assigned a monetary value which is intended to give forests weight in economic decision-making processes.In this way, emissions from deforestation can be calculated and then evaluated. In brief, simplified terms, this means that those who do not clear their rainforests, or who use these forests sustainably, receive compensation. The ideas on how REDD should be structured vary greatly. It has, for example, not yet been decided to what extent REDD should be funded via promises from donor countries or via emissions trading. Other matters of contention include how to monitor success and what form assurances should take that valuable forest ecosystems are not being converted into high-performance plantations. By signing this agreement, the Federal Government has agreed to help clarify crucial issues such as these in voluntary pilot projects.
The International Community agreed to continue to develop REDD measures at the Cancun conference. Now the specific details of a REDD mechanism need to be negotiated as part of a future climate package.
Protecting rainforests is worthwhile for all countries on the planet. Germany even bears a particular responsibility in this regard. For it was in Germany that the idea of the sustainable use - i.e. a long-term and balanced use –of forests originated. This idea is being successfully implemented. Germany now has an annual timber increment of approximately 100 million cubic metres; at 3.4 billion cubic metres, Germany’s timber stocks are the largest in Europe.
Demand for products is another area where pressure can be exerted. It must be ensured that production is legal and sustainable. Germany has therefore become the first Member State in Europe to begin implementing the Biomass Sustainability Ordinance, a first step towards countering uncontrolled overexploitation. With the EU Timber Trade Regulation, Germany will also be taking steps to combat the marketing of illegally felled timber.