in Uncategorized

The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?

A new animated film about REDD was launched yesterday at the annual meeting of the Forest Movement Europe in Portugal. “This film attempts to explain the key issues in a simple to understand way,” says Wolfgang Kuhlmann of ARA, one of the seven NGOs that produced the film.

“Global deforestation cannot be solved without addressing the over-consumption that drives deforestation,” Kuhlmann adds.

In addition to ARA, six NGOs were involved in producing the film: Amis de la Terre, Euronatura, FERN, Forest Peoples Programme, Iroko, Pro-Regenwald, Rainforest Foundation UK and Terra!* The film is posted below, with a script and links to sources below that (this is also available as a pdf file). The video is also available in French and Spanish.

The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?


Forests cover about 30 per cent of the world’s land area. They play a vital role in the water cycle and are home to most of the world’s biodiversity.


More than one in six people on the planet depend directly on forests for their livelihoods. Indigenous peoples and local communities living in the forests, have done most to protect them. But many do not have secure rights to the land they live on which means forests are under more and more pressure.


But forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Industrialised countries have destroyed most of their forests already, and


… pressure from growing global consumption is now driving deforestation in the South.


Forests are being logged and converted into agriculture plots and plantations


… producing feed for the meat industry and being cleared for mining.


This forest destruction is displacing forest dependent peoples, often destroying their livelihoods and resulting in human rights abuses.


Deforestation is also one of the main causes of climate change. Although the majority of global carbon dioxide emissions come from burning fossil fuels, cutting down trees also contributes to carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere.


When forests are burnt or chopped down, the carbon they had been storing is released back into the atmosphere.


In order to reduce deforestation, it is first necessary to know what’s causing it.


Global consumption of forest and agricultural products is one of the main drivers of deforestation. Seventy per cent of previously forested land in the Amazon is occupied by cattle pastures.


Paper supplies, processed foods, and many other things for sale in high streets and supermarkets directly or indirectly cause deforestation.


And that creates pressure on land in the global South which is increasing deforestation.


Deforestation is also driven by a lack of clarity about who owns the forest.


Poor governance leads to bad government land use policies


… often fed by high levels of corruption.


How can we stop this? To tackle deforestation you need to tackle the causes of deforestation, but the United Nations and the World Bank have something else in mind …


Following global concern about the effect of deforestation on climate change, the United Nations and World Bank began pushing REDD, a solution to reduce the EMISSIONS from deforestation and forest degradation.


The present focus of REDD is to get money for forest protection by quantifying emissions reductions from not cutting down forests …


… and then selling ‘forest carbon credits’ on a ‘carbon market’.


Polluting companies or industrial countries who need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will then buy these ‘credits’ so they can continue emitting greenhouse gases.


This means lots of profit for middlemen and traders … But very little for the people who live in the forest.


In order to see whether their plan for reducing deforestation through REDD will work, we should start by looking at how it deals with the causes of deforestation:

Does it strengthen the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities who have historically protected their forests?


Although REDD could in theory do this, in practice by increasing the value of forests, the promise of REDD money has meant that forests are much more under threat of governments taking state ownership of forest lands and erasing the chance for communities to get their land rights recognised.


Any ‘solution’ to deforestation that disrespects the rights of local peoples is not only unjust, it is also deeply ineffective.


Reducing deforestation will require unsustainable consumption of meat, fuel, food and fibre to be reduced. This has to be an initiative of global North and must be prioritised in government policies. It cannot be a short-cut or dealt with by someone else, somewhere else.


The best way to save forests is to respect forest peoples’ rights to collectively held land.


So rather than trying to tackle the problem by focusing on counting carbon and then selling it … solutions must focus on removing the pressure on forests. REDD is currently not doing that and so risks creating more problems than it solves.


Any attempt to reduce deforestation must work with, not against forest peoples.


The first step must be to ensure forest communities have secure rights to the land they live on … it will require political will and national consultative processes, but it is the best chance we have to achieve a just long term reduction in deforestation.


Full disclosure: REDD-Monitor has received funding from FERN, ARA and Rainforest Foundation UK. Click here for all of REDD-Monitor’s funding sources.

Leave a Reply


  1. Excellent…I would like to work with you on a global educational programme. Please contact me urgently.

  2. @Dr Nigel Miles – Thanks for this. Just to clarify, who do you want to contact you urgently? The makers of the film? You can contact the organisations involved via their websites which are listed at the end of the film.

  3. This is a beautifully made film which makes a strong argument against UN-REDD and any form of national approach to REDD, which in some contexts, may represent a threat to customary rights of occupancy and historical ‘sustainable’ land use. BUT the simplistic idea of how deforestation is driven by urban consumption of hamburgers and iphone’s is misleading, consumption is a huge problem that is only going to be reduced through technological change, not by stopping initiatives that strive to link value to nature. Deforestation is driven by numerous localised and global factors, some of which can be aided by specific payments for ecosystem service projects such as REDD, some not. Voluntary Carbon Markets though specified certification systems ensure, and in fact enshrine, land rights as a the cornerstone of REDD and there are numerous examples coming online of working models that ensure strengthen land rights which result in the conservation, of both habitat and dependent wildlife.

  4. @Marc Baker (#3) – Could you please provide links to the examples of working models that ensure land rights and result in conservation?

  5. REDD must work.Its the only countries like Canada can offset our carbon emissions.I could plant all the evergreen trees that I can squeeze into my lot but they wouldn’t do half the job that tropical trees do.
    The Surui tribe in Brazil had their lands validated and I will be using this an example to show my friends who are natives in Borneo, that it can be done and must be done.

  6. @ Robert Hii

    Tell me, Robert, if climate change continues and worsens, as it inevitably will do unless fossil fuel emissions are brought down very quickly – rather than allowed to continue and simply offset against putative reductions in emissions through REDD – then what do you expect to happen to those rainforests in world that is maybe 4 degrees warmer than it is now?

  7. Where REDD+ is the same of carbon market mechanism? Not in my country (Brazil).
    As far as I know, REDD+ has not been defined by UNFCCC as such and therefore the concept presented in the film is misleading.

  8. @treefellas
    much of the rainforests would likely suffer, as we’ve seen from the droughts in Brazil that wiped out tens of thousands of acres.
    having said that, to think that fossil fuels will disappear is a nice dream.It wont happen.Not with corporations and govts sleeping in the same bed.
    On top of that, we now have a new problem that is cutting down rainforests by the millions of hectares annually and that is palm oil. I don’t buy their argument that palm plantations can suck up carbon as well ancient forests.
    I’ve long railed against both oils and have only conceded that perhaps the best solution for now, is to compromise and keep what little patches of ancient forests we can and hope that the worst won’t come in my lifetime.

  9. check out the Anthrotect REDD project in Columbia – the Choco Darien Conservation corridor, or the Kasigua REDD project in Kenya – these are CCB validated projects through field based assessment re biodiversity, community impact and empowering local/indigenous communities. Then come up with a better idea, if you have one. I doubt it.

  10. Adam, thanks for the leads, will certainly check them out. As I said, REDD is the only solution right now and has to work.

  11. @11

    But again, how can we make it work if REDD is not tackling drivers of deforestation? REDD is not working on the following:

    1. Stop emissions from energy and industrial sectors which are above deforestation as big emitters.
    2. Stop promoting REDD as an offsetting scheme.
    3. Tackling drivers of deforestation: for example in Mexico there is an increasing pressure on forests from drug dealers and there is a lot of corruption as well.

  12. The video makes some good points, but by unbalanced painting with a broad brush it serves to present an uninformed audience with disinformation does not do justice to the issue. The audience needs to be told that there are areas that can and will gain from REDD, and that the video’s viewpoint cannot be applied locally in all situations. Almost all forests outside of protected areas are gone from northern Guatemala, for example, and the causes of this are complex, mostly related to internal human migration, settler needs to create cash & food crops, and the rush for land speculation (with the need to do something on that land while it is appreciating). Yes, most of the nonforest land there now is used by ranchers, some of whose products are sold outside of Guatemala, and palm and soy plantations have been “pushing” people off of their lands to grow more. Yet the best remaining forested areas to develop REDD in this vast region are in the “protected areas” to the north sought for corn and cattle production, and REDD can serve well to provide funding for better vigilance to remove large ranchers and urge forest dweller to use already deforested lands. Without REDD and/or other mechanisms that allow local peoples and facilitating organizations to increase command and control, these forests of jaguars, monkeys, butterflies, and birds will be decimated like the others to the south.

  13. Some well crafted answers, but to add to comment 12, REDD is not ‘the’ mechanism to halt climate change it is one of a number of emerging strategies. It is not designed to halt emission from the industry and transport, that is being considered through legislation and ongoing technological development..As for the drug dealers…not my field of expertise! REDD provides excellent opportunities in the correct context, las weekend I signed 2 20 year carbon contracts, the first of there kind in Tanzania and the people who I work with, many of which cannot read and write get it!

  14. Check out – how to use REDD properly, hopefully they will do many more of these projects to ensure that local communities thrive AND make money from saving their forests.

  15. Thanks Sasha
    Will pass this interesting concept onto an NGO in Sumatra that is desperately trying to save a protected forest there.