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We now live in a world dominated by humans (the Anthropocene), whose activities on Earth are resulting in new habitats and new environmental conditions, including climate change. To many, the Anthropocene is an era of environmental doom that unless reversed, will result in catastrophic reductions in biodiversity. An alternate view is that the biota will adjust to the new environmental conditions and through processes of species mixing and self-organization will form sustainable novel communities of organisms. Using examples from Puerto Rico, I discuss the conditions that lead to novel forest formation and the characteristics of these forests, including their species composition. Novel forests include native tree and animal species as well as significant numbers of introduced and naturalized species. These introduced species dominate forest stands, and their dominance is not incompatible with the regeneration of native species. I propose that these types of ecosystems might represent the natural response of the biota to the Anthropocene.
This paper reports case studies in eastern Madhya Pradesh – a central Indian province – on community adaptation strategies for sustainable livelihood options. With about 90% of the region being rain-fed, erratic rainfalls in the last fifteen years have caused up to a 60% decrease in crop yields, directly impacting the food security of the region. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and horticultural expansion are adaptation measures for tackling climate change. The expansion of kitchen gardens from subsistence-level to commercial-level is another significant development in the region. Meanwhile, increased pressure on common lands has caused fuelwood scarcity for households and decreased livestock fodder. While output of most non-timber forest products (NTFPs) has reduced drastically due to unsustainable extraction, production of mahua (Madhuca indica) has not suffered as much, thanks to a community-managed user regime. Community-based institutions have the potential to support the ecosystem-based livelihoods of forest-dependent communities.
Covering 2.1 million hectares, Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) is the largest protected area in Central America and is home to globally important biodiversity. Established in 1990, the reserve is also the site of an internationally significant experiment with community forestry: twelve community forest concessions in the MBR cover over 400,000 ha, about 19% of its total area. Over the last fifteen years, these concessions have developed local enterprises that have generated thousands of seasonal and permanent jobs, and over $4 million in annual sales of sustainably harvested forest products. At the same time, analyses have shown that the rate of deforestation in concessions certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is remarkably lower than in adjacent “core zone” protected areas in the MBR. Such community forests represent a promising strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+), where payments could add a crucial revenue stream for local forest-based enterprise. Under an initiative led by the Rainforest Alliance, approximately 470,000 hectares with potential to offset approximately 1 million tons CO2-equivalent per year will be eligible for payments for avoided deforestation. This paper details the history and development of community forest enterprise in the MBR, the rationale and potential for developing REDD+ in MBR concessions, and the work of the Rainforest Alliance and national and international partners on a host of complex activities, including estimation of carbon offset potentials, baseline definition, legal and regulatory analyses, and preparation of a project document for validation to voluntary carbon standards.
The Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program emerging as a part of the international climate change regime holds the potential to dramatically affect forestry in the tropics. REDD+ has demonstrated an ability to overcome the major political obstacles to earlier efforts to promote sustainable forest management (SFM) in the tropics, but key questions regarding its on-the-ground impact remain. This article suggests that REDD+ can become a successful vehicle for advancing SFM if it is re-conceived to include support for adaptation as one of its primary goals. Some degree of adaptation is necessary to effectively implement any form of REDD+, and SFM practices offer the core toolkit for securing forest adaptation in the context of REDD+. Re-envisioning REDD+ as a dual-focus program aimed at mitigation and adaptation builds upon the potential synergies between these two climate regime goals and calls upon experiences with SFM to provide the means of achieving them. Operationalizing this vision will require development of novel arrangements of authority and incentives across scales of governance that can provide opportunities for learning in support of a larger need for new approaches to governance of global environmental issues. Thus, integrating adaptation into REDD+ can advance not only climate change regime goals, but also long-standing SFM goals and the increasingly apparent demand for more effective international environmental governance generally.
We address the controversy over REDD+ financing for commercial loggers who reduce emissions by adopting improved forest management (IFM). We argue that REDD+ incentives should be available to commercial loggers who adopt IFM as long as carbon accounting is rigorous and safeguards are followed. Further, we argue that where full forest protection is not feasible, IFM should be advanced as a priority REDD+ strategy because it can (i) achieve robust emissions reductions without generating leakage or increasing the risk of non-permanence, (ii) generate a variety of local community benefits as a low-carbon development strategy, (iii) maintain native forest biodiversity, and (iv) reduce the likelihood of deforestation, particularly when forest management is community-based. We discuss solutions to some of the remaining challenges to creating incentives for IFM within a REDD+ mechanism. We encourage continued refinement of safeguards to ensure that verified climate benefits of IFM also generate social and biodiversity benefits. REDD+ financing is needed to catalyze the shift to IFM, but IFM should not be dependent (or at least not fully dependent) upon REDD+ financing for long-term financial viability. Measuring, monitoring, and validating emissions reductions from IFM have been a particular challenge, although new technologies and methods are promising. Technologies and methods used to account for avoided deforestation are usually not sensitive enough to detect changes in forest management practices. Funding is needed for research to develop and refine affordable methodologies for measuring, monitoring, and validating emissions reductions achieved through IFM.
Over the past several years, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped by more than two-thirds. This reduction has been achieved despite high beef and soy prices, which in previous years had pushed deforestation upward, and during the same time that Brazil made important social progress in reducing poverty, hunger and inequality. The reduction in global warming pollution that this represents is the largest contribution so far by any country, rich or poor. Several factors are responsible for this accomplishment. They include: government policies and enforcement actions by prosecutors, on both the federal and state levels; the incentive created by Norway's pledge of up to $1 billion in results-based compensation through the Amazon Fund; the strong and concerted pressure exerted by Brazilian civil society on the government and the soy and beef industries; and the positive response by those industries, resulting in the 2006 soy and 2009 beef moratoria. Political leaders, such as President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and especially Minister of the Environment/2010 Green Party presidential candidate Marina Silva, can also claim an important share of the credit. While success is by no means assured, what has been achieved so far is already quite impressive, and makes it possible to envision the reduction of Amazon deforestation and forest degradation to zero within the next decade.
Brazil has the world's highest annual area of tropical deforestation, and cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Recent domestic and international market demand for beef and leather that are not linked to deforestation led the largest Brazilian meatpackers to adopt policies to reject supplies from ranches with recent deforestation. However, increased and sustained enforcement of such policies will be needed to reduce deforestation in these supply chains over the long-term. We sought to map the Brazilian cattle product supply chain to determine the proportion of the market, and of cattle production, that may be susceptible to market demands for deforestation-free supplies. Beef, leather and live animal exports are the most valuable products from the cattle industry, with export values tripling between 2001 and 2009, and with China, Russia and the U.S. as the largest importing countries. The markets for dairy and tallow (beef fat) are predominantly domestic. We find that around 40% of beef and 85% of leather production serve markets that have expressed concerns over environmental impacts of their purchases, while the clandestine market, which is not susceptible to market environmental demands, is estimated to comprise about one quarter of the Brazilian cattle slaughter. Demand for Brazilian cattle products is growing, and while market-driven efforts to reduce deforestation linked to legal slaughter have shown success, improved governance and other measures will be needed to tackle the environmental impacts of the clandestine industry.