At the UNFCCC COP19 in Warsaw this week, a new programme was launched under the auspices of the World Bank: The BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL).
The initial funding amount is set at $280 million USD. Norway has pledged up to $135 million to the initiative, Britain $120 million and the United States $25 million. The fund also hopes to attract further private and public funding.
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to use the Global Forest Change tool released this week to look at forest change in each of the contributing countries, also in relation to their contribution to this new initiative.
Forest change Norway 2000-2012. The blue and red colors indicate net forest gain and loss, respectively. The colors here are almost exclusively seen on the Swedish side of the border. Norway does not rank among the top 50 nations in terms of deforestation, Sweden ranks 13th.
Image via Global Forest Change / Earth Engine Partners
With a goal of encouraging reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector, including REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), ISFL is intended to “help countries identify and promote climate-smart agricultural and low-carbon land-use practices in selected geographical areas where agriculture is a major cause of deforestation.”
The deforestation culprit in question is, by and large, commercial agriculture in regions including Latin America; subsistence and commercial agriculture contribute equally to an estimated two-thirds of deforestation in other areas like Africa and subtropical Asia.
The initiative sets itself the task of “adopting a landscape approach, (which) means implementing a development strategy that is climate smart, equitable, productive and profitable at scale and strives for environmental, social, and economic impact.”
Measures include “protecting forests, restoring degraded lands, enhancing agricultural productivity, and improving livelihoods and local environments.”
According to this Reuters article, one of the key problems faced by initiatives seeking to reduce deforestation is that “parties are focusing all their energy arguing about the politics of who governs REDD+ finance, when the real issue is a lack of demand.”
This is according to Matt Leggett, head of policy at forest think-tank Global Canopy Programme, who also stated that “the program must create demand for nearly 1.5 billion tones of carbon dioxide equivalent to cut deforestation by half, but current projects are only set to cut emissions by 160 million tones.”