Making Global Rainforest Preserves Pay
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become the latest tropical rainforest rich, yet materially poor, nation to embrace payments for “avoided deforestation”. The DRC joins Ecuador [more | more2] and Papua New Guinea (PNG) in making substantive offers to the international community to protect (note, not conserve or sustainabiy manage, but preserve intact) large areas of primary rainforests in exchange for payments which may include carbon market credits, development grants and/or debt relief.
A workable solution to tropical rainforest destruction and diminishment is within reach, and protecting the world's last large ancient primary forests is also a relatively easy way to dramatically and quickly cut back on carbon emissions (~25% of which are from land conversion including deforestation and diminishment). Whether this opportunity to fully protect the world's remaining ancient and holy primary forest temples — critically essential for planetary operation and human well-being — is seized upon depends upon the details of course. The main potential obstacles I see in poorly designed payments for maintaining ancient forests as carbon sinks includes primarily a concern that there will be allowances for “well managed” forestry in these carbon sinks. Any industrial development, from certified forestry to hydroelectric dams to utility lines would need to be absolutely banned. Essentially this would require shutting down the industrial scaled ancient primary forest logging business; and what of the World Bank's, WWF's and Greenpeace's desire to see more certified logging?
The world has paid trillions of dollars to fight the threat of terrorism, my other main concern is that the world's leaders are so ecologically challenged that they do not see what a deal it is to pay a few billion a year to a country to keep their terrestrial ecosystem component of the Earth's biosphere intact. The rich nations can easily afford to pay for avoided deforestation; their wisdom, political will and sense of urgency is what is in question. Other concerns include distribution of the proceeds, ensuring that local peoples forgoing industrial rainforest development are compensated along with meeting the need for government revenues. And a strict requirement that local people's are consulted and allowed to continue their traditional small scale activities. Apparently the World Bank is working on a test fund of limited means to pay countries to maintain their forests for climate benefits [more] primarily. It is crucial that conservationists are wary of those like the Bank and large environmental groups with other agendas, in this case accessing raw materials for the global economy and serving as apologists for the timber mafia.
Simply, humanity must establish such global ecological reserves to survive. And for the first time the ones with the rainforests agree that for the right price, they will keep their forests standing. Let's take them up on the offer!