Carbon Forest Protection Payments: Who Gets the Check?
The Rights and Resources Initiative provides some interesting cautionary advice in new reports, suggesting that rushing to pay for forest protection with carbon funds (REDD) will fail unless land rights [ark] in tropical countries, where much of the money is being directed, is addressed. And another report highlights the growing pressure upon forests to provide food and fuel [ark]. The latter may seem obvious, yet plans continue for tree based biofuels [search], and ever soaring populations need more agricultural lands for food and fuel.
Progress on forest land rights has slowed in recent years. A spokesperson states: “We have huge concerns about sending all this money in the name of fighting climate change if the land rights for people living there are not resolved. It could cause more violence, benefit only a wealthy elite and lead to even greater carbon emissions.” Without clear tenure rights for local peoples, money aimed at protecting forests is likely to go to central government officials in countries known for corruption, human rights abuses and lack of environmental commitment. And in many cases local people protect forests better. The suggest more effort is needed to map remote forests and register the people who live there to protect their interests. If massive payments to keep forests intact go to local communitues, one wonders just how supportive governments in fact will be.
Given increased land pressures are certain to increase pressures upon all forests [ark], but particulary the dwindling primary and old-growth forests that provide ecosystem services that make the Earth habitable, it is critical carbon payments are limited to payment to local peoples which allow them to benefit from the strict protection of standing forests. And we must be careful that an emphasis upon land tenure does not in fact makes industrial forestry easier, but rather does lead to more protection with carbon monies flowing to local communities, paying them to keep ancient forests standing and strictly protected.