Reports & Analysis
Multiple benefits – issues and options for REDD
Deciphering the complexities of forest ecosystems for a successful implementation of REDD
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the primary objective of REDD. Yet protecting forests brings many more benefits to our societies and to the environment than simply preventing carbon from flowing into the atmosphere.
In a recently published paper on REDD’s multiple benefits, the UN-REDD Programme studies how REDD’s design and implementation at the country level can either enable or hinder the ability of forests to provide essential ecosystem services such as biodiversity, climate and water regulation, timber, and non-timber products.
The relationship between each of these benefits can be complex. Firstly, they are not necessarily interrelated. For instance, increased biodiversity does not automatically translate into an increase of other services. Secondly, services provided vary in space and time: benefits such as climate regulation are global, while others, like timber, are essentially local. They may also vary throughout the year from season to season.
Design and implementation are two critical phases
Understanding the complexity of the forest ecosystem is essential to properly design and implement REDD in forested countries. In terms of design, issues related to the scope of REDD, the reference levels adopted and the financing of REDD are all relevant. For example, while the inclusion of forest conservation as a REDD activity will be broadly beneficial to biodiversity, focusing on a forest’s potential for carbon retention might lead to policies that increase carbon sequestration at the expense of biodiversity and water regulation services.
The biggest opportunity for countries to achieve multiple benefits -- and to meet, among other international commitments, some of the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity -- will arise during the implementation phase. However, to avoid potential risks countries will need to carefully plan their activities based on informed decisions. Since each country and context is different, they first need to deepen their knowledge of how, at the local level, the various benefits are linked to one another. Then, they also need to study the costs and benefits involved in promoting gains for biodiversity and ecosystem services through REDD.
What the UN-REDD Programme does on multiple benefits and REDD
To ensure that countries are well prepared for REDD and its challenges, the UN-REDD Programme has launched several activities to address the multiple benefits aspects of REDD. These include:
- consultations with UN-REDD’s pilot countries to identify priorities and information needs
- developing a framework for understanding the factors that determine land use and land use change, and the consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services
- spatial analyses of the relationship between carbon storage in forests, biodiversity and ecosystem services
- developing tools for decision-makers to promote synergies, address conflicts and manage trade-offs
For more details on the UN-REDD Programme’s work on multiple benefits, please download the full report from the website, in the Products and Publications section.
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