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Carbon – the next cash crop?

Loggers, farmers and charcoal burners are fast encroaching on the Congo’s priceless, pristine rainforests - a critical defence in the fight against climate change. Worldwide, there’s growing recognition that forests are worth far more left standing than cleared. So could local people, for example, be part of the answer to how best to protect Congo’s forests? Earth Report went to the DRC to find out.

The Congo is now the site of new pilot projects aimed at finding out if forests can pay their way as global carbon stores - and if the benefits extend to the pygmies and other forest dwellers on the ground. Countries are deliberating on a scheme known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), an international finance mechanism that would reward developing countries that conserve their tropical forests. Earth Report explored how well this may work.

Earth Report ‘REDD Alert’ was produced with the support of the UN-REDD Programme

Blazing Indonesian forest fires fuel global climate change

Forest fires raging across Central Kalimantan in Borneo are destroying vital peat swamp forests – and exacerbating climate change. Working 24-hour shifts, Indonesian fire fighting teams have been battling roaring flames above ground, but also struggling to extinguish the more insidious, hard-to-detect underground peat fires. “Underground fire is particularly difficult to stop, because it’s embers, not flames,” says Dr Suwido Limin, an Indonesian expert in tropical peat swamp forest who’s been fighting to save his research laboratories. Travelling with Dr. Limin, this edition of Earth Report explored the fallout from the conflagration, and assessed the full scale of the disaster.

The destruction of Dr Limin’s forest research areas is just the tip of the iceberg. Earth Report producer Emily McDowell learned that a major forest regeneration project operated by Wetlands International had also recently gone up in flames. The equivalent of four football fields’ worth of forest is currently razed to the ground every minute in Indonesia, while across Southeast Asia peat swamp forest is being logged and converted to oil palm, pulpwood tree and other crop plantations. Hundreds of canals have been cut through Central Kalimantan to drain the swamp forests and aid logging and farming. Once drained by the canals, the moist peat dries out and becomes susceptible to fire. And destroying peat swamp forest releases up to 10 times more carbon dioxide than other kinds of forest

Earth Report travelled to Indonesia where recent fires have been laying waste to vast areas of peat swamp forest. The worlds' tropical forests store 25 per cent of all terrestrial carbon and absorb 15 percent of our annual C02 emissions. But when those forests are cleared the tables are turned and forests emit CO2 rather than storing it. Scientists estimate that deforestation contributes up to 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Earth Report ‘Burning Bush’ was produced with the support of the UN-REDD Programme

Agenda-setter film

REDD as part of the solution

Here below is the agenda-setter video on REDD which was used as a curtain raiser for the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Event on REDD that was held on 23 September 2009 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The High Level Event and subsequent Press Conference was scheduled from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. New York time was broadcast live on www.un.org/webcast. Tune in here to watch the video. [English: 1 hour and 38 minutes ]

Sponsored by the UN-REDD Programme

Produced by TVE


Video Interviews

What will it take to make REDD successful?

Below are video interviews carried out during the Second Policy Board meeting held in Montreux, Switzerland on 14 – 15 June 2009.

Click here to download Adobe Flash Player

1. What would it take to move from words to action? I.e. Once there is a global agreement on REDD, what is needed at country and/or global level to insure implementation?

Yemi Katerere
Head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat

Charles McNeill
Senior Policy Advisor Environment and Energy Group

2. What is the most important contribution the UN-REDD Programme can make to the success of REDD?

Ibrahim Thiaw
Director Dept. of Environmental
Policy Implementation, UNEP

Rosalind Reeve
Forest Campaign Manager
Global Witness

3. How can we ensure that REDD and/or the UN-REDD Programme delivers benefits for local livelihoods and biodiversity, as well as carbon storage?
  Vincent Kasulu
Dir. of Sustainable Devpt. Ministry of Env., Nature,
Conservation & Tourism, D.R.Congo
Andy White
Coordinator Right and Resources Initiative
CSO Advisory Group
4. What will make REDD successful?
  Elifuraha Ole-Laltaika
Programme Officer Community Research &
Development Services, Tanzania