UN Climate Change News, 21 March 2023 – Today is International Day of Forests, celebrating this remarkable natural resource that is also vital in the fight against climate change. This year’s theme focuses on “Forests and health”, putting the spotlight on the role they play in supporting our well-being.
We depend on forests for food, energy, shelter, income, and medicine; over 1.6 billion people directly, including 60 million indigenous people. Forests and trees reduce air pollution and heat exposure. Walking in forests can boost our immune systems and improve mental health. They also provide spiritual values important to many people and communities globally.
They are critical to addressing climate change because they absorb heat-trapping carbon dioxide, and they are a crucial part of resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, such as absorbing heat and regulating water flows.
But forests need our help to be able continue providing these benefits.
The Role of REDD+ in Forest Protection
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries established a framework to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation.
One particular framework, namely REDD+ (the acronym for “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries”) plays a special role in providing technical and financing guidance to help countries reduce human pressure on forests that results in greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing countries can receive results-based payments for emission reductions through reducing deforestation, thereby incentivizing their efforts.
Through REDD+, many countries are taking concrete steps to protect their forests. As of the end of 2022, REDD+ activities implemented by developing countries cover a forest area of approximately 1.35 billion hectares (about 62% of forest area in developing countries) and about 75% of global deforestation. REDD+ submissions to the UN Climate Change secretariat now cover forest ecosystems from the boreal forests of Mongolia to the dry forests of Malawi, and from rainforests in all tropical regions.
REDD+ is also acknowledged in high-level political initiatives, such as the Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), which mobilizes finance and incentivizes the conservation of high-integrity forests, with the goal to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
The UN Climate Change secretariat has been undertaking REDD+ technical assessments for 10 years, welcoming forest submissions from four new countries as well as updated submissions from five countries, as countries prepare to scale up their efforts to protect their forests. In total, 60 developing countries have reported REDD+ activities to the UN Climate Change secretariat. As a result of REDD+ activities, 13 of these countries reported a reduction of approximately 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide, almost twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States in 2020 and are now eligible to seek results-based finance.
Technical Assessments Are Key