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The protection of forests under global biodiversity and climate policy


 The protection of forests under global biodiversity and climate policy


Today, the world’s remaining forests only cover about 4 billion ha or app. 30% of the global land area. Throughout the last 8,000 years more than half of the global forest area was converted to other land uses. Rates of deforestation have steadily increased since industrialisation with most of these land use changes occurring during the last century. Only about 1.35 billion ha (36%) of all forests can still be classified as primary forest (FAO 2010).

Deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries account for about 20% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the world (IPCC 2007). That is one reason why the development of a mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is currently one of the most important issues of the post-Kyoto negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The idea behind REDD+ is to compensate developing countries which succeed in reducing forest-related CO2 emissions. However, despite the political will, the efforts to internationally agree on a concrete design of the REDD+ mechanism have not yet been successful. Since the depletion of forests also results in the loss of other forest ecosystem services than carbon mitigation, there are many pledges for promoting synergies in such a mechanism, e.g. between the climate protection goals of the UNFCCC and the aspirations for biodiversity conservation set by the UN-Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

REDD+ is an international transfer mechanism between sovereign governments with the intention of minimizing national deforestation rates through the establishment of effective and efficient forest and environmental policies in the concerned countries. Nonetheless, a significant amount of REDD+ activities is likely to consist of projects; currently various pilot projects are in the planning phase or already being implemented. However, in order to reduce the risks of spatial leakage from deforestation and degradation, REDD+ pilot project activities should be embedded in national strategies which are currently developed with support of multilateral institutions as the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility or the UN REDD programme. Although these initiatives encourage the incorporation of co-benefits, beneficiary countries remain responsible for deciding what kind of funding (if at all) is to be made available for conservation projects and the role that biodiversity plays within their respective national REDD+ strategy.

Project objectives:
This project aims to analyze the potential risks and opportunities of different REDD+ options regarding the CBD goals for biodiversity conservation in forests. Based on these analyses, options will be developed for the sustainable implementation of REDD+ and pilot activities on international, national, and project levels. These approaches will be geared towards creating the biggest possible synergies between the mentioned environmental goals.

The project approaches the research issue from two perspectives. Using the “top-down” approach, Subproject 1 performs an analysis and evaluation of forest protection strategies on the international policy level. This is carried out by the Institute of Forest and Environmental Policy (IFP). The Institute for Landscape Management heads Subproject 2, an analysis of REDD+ pilot projects in order to explain how aspects of biodiversity and climate protection goals can be combined on the project level – the “bottom-up” approach. The analysis of national strategies from different points of view links the two subprojects.


During the initial phase of the project an extensive analysis of scientific literature and existing knowledge was carried out. This was supplemented by an international expert workshop organized and carried out by the Institutes for Landscape Management and Forest and Environmental Policy in Freiburg from the 14th to the 16th of April, 2010. In the second and third year of the project there will be interviews conducted pertaining to each subproject.

Communication with international experts from scientific, economic and policy-making backgrounds is a core aspect of the project. This is supported by a project advisory group (PAG) composed of experts from various non-governmental organizations and political institutions.

Further communication with other organizations and the analysis of REDD+ negotiations will be continued through participation in the upcoming Conferences of the Parties (COP) and the expert committees (SBSTA as well as SBSTTA) of UNFCCC and of the CBD. In addition to the planned contributions for scientific journals, the political connectivity of the analysis is an important goal of the project. This will be made possible by the continuous observation of political processes, and is essential for a concrete, politically relevant design of the REDD+ mechanism. Besides scientific publications, policy options will be communicated through strategy papers, presentations, and consultative discussions throughout the policy processes.

Subproject 1:

Although the CBD could contribute considerably to the integrity of the REDD+ design at the international level through the experience in the areas of biodiversity protection in forests (PoW on Forest Biodiversity) and protected areas (PoW on Protected Areas), so far it has not been possible to develop a comprehensive approach for the mechanism, e.g. by requesting guidance of the CBD for biodiverstity-related issues. Thus, the main objective of subproject 1 is to identify challenges and develop options for improved cooperation between the UNFCCC and the CBD on international level regarding the development of an environmentally integer REDD+ mechanism. Besides following and analyzing relevant international policy processes, interviews with negotiators and scientific- as well as NGO-experts within both processes will be conducted to identify barriers for communication between the climate and biodiversity community.
Within the REDD+ debate there has been growing awareness that national strategies are of utmost importance for ensuring biodiversity benefits resulting from REDD+ activities. However, within the national REDD+ strategies currently developed with the support of FCPF and UN-REDD, biodiversity remains a side aspect. At the same time, there is a strong quorum of different stakeholders to integrate biodiversity safeguards also within national strategies. Accordingly, a second objective of subproject 1 is to identify the reasons for the mentioned lack of biodiversity consideration on national level and develop approaches for their integration. For this purpose, interviews will be conducted with national ministries, Focal Points and other stakeholders in selected developing countries to analyze the development of national REDD+ strategies and the role of different actors in streamlining national biodiversity, forest and climate policy.

First results and publications:

First project results were achieved from the international expert workshop where over 30 experts from 11 different countries with scientific, political and practical backgrounds discussed the issues of “biodiversity safeguards & co-benefits,” “sustainable forest management,” “forest biodiversity monitoring,” and “protected areas and REDD+”. A summary of the workshop was presented in May 2010 at the SBSTTA14 from the CBD in Nairobi. In the forefront of the workshop, two background papers briefed on the political and technical background of the REDD+ mechanism and the links to biodiversity.


  • Project Duration: October 2009 - September 2012
  • Funding: German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)


Institute of Forest and Environmental Policy
Dr. Till Pistorius (Project supervisor, supervisor Subproject 1)
Tel.: 0761/203-3723
e-mail: till.pistorius@ifp.uni-freiburg.de

Dinah Benick (Research associate, Subproject 1)
Tel.: 0761/203-3724
e-mail: dinah.benick@ifp.uni-freiburg.de

Institute for Landscape Management
Dr. Christine B. Schmitt (Supervisor Subproject 2)
Tel.: 0761/203-3630
e-mail: christine.schmitt@landespflege.uni-freiburg.de

Steffen Entenmann (Research associate, Subproject 2)
Tel.: 0761/203-3636
e-mail: steffen.entenmann@landespflege.uni-freiburg.de




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