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Deforestation causes being overlooked, report finds

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A media analysis has revealed that the fundamental issue relating to the reasons behind deforestation is being overlooked while debates about REDD+ rage on.

The ‘Governing the design of national REDD+: An analysis of the power of agency’ report, which was part of the CGIAR Research Programme on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, found that underlying problems relating to deforestation were often not analysed.

Governments, civil society and the private sector all speak publicly about the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation programme (REDD+), which is backed by the United Nations and aims to lower global greenhouse gas emissions by rolling out incentives to ensure that trees are protected. However, a distinct lack of discussion was happening about the basic problems relating to forest protection, the report said.

Monica Di Gregorio, a senior associate at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and a lecturer at Britain’s University of Leeds, told CIFOR: “We found that although there is a lot of discussion about international issues with REDD+, such as who should pay for what, actors don’t talk much about national issues.

"State actors and powerful interests ostensibly support REDD+, but they tend to talk about it in a superficial and simplistic way, drawing on the rhetoric of it as a ‘win-win’ situation. They don’t really go into the reforms that are needed to make REDD+ happen.”

Di Gregorio co-authored the report alongside CIFOR scientists Maria Brockhaus and Sofi Mardiah, and asked whether the topic was being deliberately avoided in case it undermined the success of the programme. “We know that to have effective REDD+ policies, you have to address the drivers of deforestation — there’ll be no emission reductions without that,” she said.

“It’s not enough just to set up projects, or to say ‘here’s a procedure’ and ‘here’s a mechanism.’ Implementing REDD+ means tackling some very challenging issues, but if they don’t talk about the real problem, they’re not going to be able to solve it.”

A CIFOR analysis recently found out that discussions around REDD+ were missing a key element into the debate: the underlying drivers of deforestation. Much focus is made on institutional matters, and ‘who should pay for what’ but deforestation drivers, the “real problem” should be at the center of the discussions.

However, state policymakers are hardly aware of what is causing deforestation — and hardly know that policy reforms are needed. Moreover, policy makers continue to avoid the issue, probably because a lot of powerful economic interests stands behind deforestation. The drivers issue could be pointed out by civil society or NGOs, but the study showed that these groups were focusing more on environmental justice, safeguards and “co-benefits” of REDD+, such as how REDD+ will affect livelihoods and whether there is equity in decision making. REDD+ may not be able to progress, then, unless governments and domestic coalitions for change start pushing these issues onto the agenda.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut