The Forest and the Trees

December 2, 2008

December 2nd -The plenary session of the SBSTA is turning out to be not so boring after all.  The last three speakers, while reading from prepared statements, were connecting with me to a much greater extent.  The discussion has turned to the subject of the management of forests as a mechanism for carbon sequestration.  The subject is referred to as REDD in the necessary UN habit of acronym use, which is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

While this might seem a ‘no brainer’, grow more trees, it is not quite so simple.  Few things ever are.  Such invisible issues as I am learning include the following:

  • The rights of indigenous peoples who fear they will be stripped of their standing (as well as sitting, lying, sleeping and eating) when the ‘experts’ come in to manage their forests.
  • The question of to whom any financial resources flow in the effort to encourage the preservation of existing forests and the re-establishment of degraded ones.
  • Questions of national vs. regional vs. local accounting/incentives for the management of ‘carbon stocks’ (UN-speak for trees).
  • The particular methods which will sustain or re-establish appropriate forest ecosystems.
  • Recognition of nations who are already ‘with the program’, and conscientious steward of their forest resources (more or less).
  • The difficulty of establishing credible reference levels for individual countries, especially ones with historically low rates of forest deforestation…

You can see where this one goes.  The possible list of valid concerns goes on and on.  This is planned as a 3 hour meeting and Madame Chairwoman has just said she will have to enforce the 2 minute time limits to the individual statements of member delegations.

For the Earth – §