Stanford, CA Tropical deforestation, which releases more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year, is a major contributor to global climate change. Recognizing this, a group of forest-rich developing nations have called for a strategy to make forest preservation politically and economically attractive. The result is a two-year initiative, dubbed "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation" (RED), launched by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In a Policy Forum article appearing in the May 10 edition of Science Express, an international team* of climate researchers make a case for the RED initiative from a scientific and technological standpoint. They also discuss some of the political and economic challenges that the initiative will face, and outline a few key solutions to these issues.
"Many of these countries resisted certain provisions of the Kyoto Protocol because they felt that it intruded on their national sovereignty," said Christopher Field, director of Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology and a co-author on the policy article. "Now, they are ready and willing to address forestry strategies in a constructive manner, on their own terms. It is very encouraging."
On the scientific and technical side, the authors address two main questions. First, can preserving tropical forests make a significant dent in climate-threatening carbon emissions" And second, will these preserved forests be able to survive in an environment altered by the climate change that cannot be avoided"
"The answer in both cases is a qualified 'yes,'" Field said. "As with all measures to address global warming, the key is immediate and aggressive action."
On the first question, the authors found that reducing deforestation rates by 50% over the next century will save an average of about half a billion metric tons of carbon every year. This by itself could account for as much as 12% of the tot
Contact: Dr. Christopher Field