“Try to understand what we are asking for as Indigenous Peoples regarding the care and protection of our territories as sacred places, and that is because we know that from there the protection begins, not only of the territory, the water, but the protection of life itself.”
Maria Rosario Chicunque, Indigneous Leader, Kamentsa Community, Colombia Association of Indigenous Women
Forests are a key part of “nature’s infrastructure” that sustains biodiversity and the climate and provides livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people. Globally, forests absorb and store approximately a quarter of CO2 emissions. This “forest sink” accounts for ~12 Gt CO2/yr that would otherwise add to global warming and ocean acidification. In the tropics, deforestation is a significant source of CO2 emissions. Deforestation also reduces the size of the global forest sink by several hundred million tons of CO2 each year that deforested areas would have absorbed and stored if we protected our natural infrastructure instead of eroding it. Climate change itself is a growing threat to the world’s forests, and one that will considerably grow if we move beyond a 1.5-2.0° C world.
Tropical forests also cool the earth’s surface and enhance rainfall for agriculture nearby and half a world away, enabling critical parts of the world’s food production. And forests everywhere help buffer against climate change’s extreme impacts, including floods and droughts.
Nearly a billion people depend directly on forests for their livelihoods, with billions more benefiting from economic products that forests provide. Yet the economic importance, investment opportunities, and job growth potential inherent in forest protection remain mostly unappreciated and unrealized. Rather than investing in forests as natural infrastructure and for their vast wealth of biodiversity, private investment – sometimes publicly subsidized – is largely directed toward forest destruction for commodity production or land speculation.
Most forest loss can be eliminated in ways that benefit people and the planet. Large-scale finance could help “rebalance the scale” in favor of forest protection.
HOW FUNDERS CAN SUPPORT
- Support development and research that increases the value of standing forests to local, regional, and global communities, including through innovation in sustainable product lines and their marketing, and through the recognition and valuation of services that forests provide, including for human health.
- Finance the strengthening of protected areas and of Indigenous and forest community territories, particularly those buffering against expanding deforestation frontiers.
- Support and finance the creation of new protected areas and of Indigenous and community territories.
- Support policies and programs that generate large-scale public and private finance for forest protection, including “jurisdictional” REDD+ payments and other large-scale “Payment for Environmental Services” programs.
Climate & Forests 2030 Papers:
- Forests and Climate: Impacts, Mitigation, and Adaptation (Nolan, Field & Mach)
- Strategies for Triggering Transformative Climate Change Pathways: Towards “Fit for Purpose” Philanthropic and Donor Engagement (Cashore)
- Forests and International Carbon Markets (Keohane & Seymour)