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“Forests are more than just trees and carbon”

Forests are more than just trees and carbonThe International Youth Delegation is a consortium of over 500 young people from over 50 countries. “We are the largest ever youth presence for a conference of this kind,” they say. “We are here in Poznan to provide the youth voice in the negotiations and to remind governments that they are bargaining with our future.”

Here’s their position on REDD.

International Youth Delegation
Guiding Principles & Policy Recommendations for REDD negotiations at COP 14

The International Youth Delegation’s Forest Policies Working Group is monitoring the REDD discussion and would like you to consider our priorities, as follow:

  • REDD must be first and foremost a mechanism for forest protection and climate stabilization, not profit-generation.
  • Forest degradation should be defined within a REDD scheme as any loss of carbon carrying capacity and/or biodiversity.
  • There must be differentiation between intact, biodiverse, and carbon-rich forests and woody crop plantations in any REDD agreement or mechanism for carbon accounting purposes.
  • The REDD mechanism must guarantee the security of de jure and de facto land and property rights for local and indigenous peoples.
  • There are risks associated with REDD being used as an offset mechanism for Annex-I countries. An inequitable REDD mechanism has the potential to:
    • a. Function as a means by which Annex-I countries avoid domestic mitigation action, thereby delaying reductions in fossil fuel emissions.
      b. Result in the significant loss of the lands and rights of local and indigenous peoples.
      c. Decrease the effectiveness of present efforts to protect forests while failing to introduce improved protection methods.
      d. Drastically decrease the price of carbon and the market’s effectiveness at reducing carbon emissions.

  • Emissions generated by the following activities should be assessed and included in national emissions accounting.
    • a. Deforestation associated with the establishment of timber plantations.
      b. Forest degradation associated with timber harvesting and related activities.
      c. Deforestation associated with areas temporarily unstocked due to human intervention, regardless of natural regeneration potential.
      d. The harvesting of established timber plantation should be assessed as “land converted to cropland – perennial cover without frequent harvest.”

International Youth Delegation Guiding Principles for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)

Forests are more than just trees and carbon.

It is essential that deforestation and forest degradation are dramatically reduced in developing countries equitably and rapidly. Degradation is any activity that reduces a forest’s carbon carrying capacity and/or harms biodiversity. Additionally, any definition of deforestation and forest degradation should distinguish between native forest ecosystems and agricultural tree crops (plantations), noting that the former has a far greater carbon carrying capacity.

In addition to reducing domestic emissions, Annex-I countries have a responsibility to provide finance and support for developing countries’ efforts to avoid deforestation, permanently protect, and sustainably manage native forests. Priority must be given to protect intact, biodiverse, and carbon-rich forests. REDD accounting must be verifiable and accurately reflect the actual carbon carrying capacity of these forests. Accountability, transparency, and good governance must be required of all participating parties.

Developing nations have a responsibility to prevent emissions leakage and to engage their society in all levels of decision-making. The engagement and participation of local and indigenous communities must be guaranteed and are not negotiable. Moreover, the centrality of secure land rights to the REDD conversation cannot be understated. An equitable and effective REDD regime will ensure the security of the land and property of local and Indigenous peoples.

Critically, REDD must be a mechanism for forest protection for the sake of climate stabilization, not a mechanism for profit. There are serious risks associated with REDD being used as an offset mechanism for Annex-I countries. We reject any proposal that functions as a means by which Annex-I countries avoid domestic mitigation action (i.e. fossil fuel emissions reductions).

The International Youth Delegation Forest Policies Working Group would like to meet with your delegation to discuss the potential for collaboration to ensure that any REDD negotiations and outcomes contribute to a safe climate for us and future generations. Please contact us at youthforests [at]


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