What is REDD? How did it come about?

Today, tropical forests account for 15% of the Earth’s surface (FAO, 2006 apud GCP, 2008) and contain about 25% of all carbon contained in the terrestrial biosphere (BONAN, 2008 ap GCP 2008). Moreover, 90% of the 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line depend on forest resources to survive (GCP, 2008).

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2006), approximately 13 million hectares of tropical forests are deforested each year (an area equivalent to Peru).

Preserving forests reduces greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential to generate substantial co-benefits, such as positive impacts on biodiversity and conservation of water resources. The standing forest also helps stabilize the rainfall regime and, consequently, the climate (Angelsen, 2008).

The IPCC report published in 2007 (IPCC, 2007) estimated emissions from deforestation in the 1990s to be approximately 20% of the total, making “land use change” the second activity that contributes most to global warming, (GCP, 2008).

Concept and development

The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) concept is part of the idea of including emissions that are avoided by reducing deforestation and forest degradation in the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions. It resulted from a partnership between Brazilian and American researchers, which originated a proposal known as “Compensated Reduction of Emissions” (Santilli et al., 2000). It was presented during COP-9 in Milan, Italy (2003) by IPAM and partners. Under this concept, developing countries with tropical forests that were able to promote reductions in their national emissions from deforestation would receive international financial compensation corresponding to the emissions they avoided. The concept of compensated reduction became the basis to discuss REDD in the following years.

During COP-11, in Montreal, Canada (2005), the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, presented a similar proposal. Their objective was to discuss providing financial incentives to encourage developing countries with tropical forests to reduce deforestation (Pinto et al., 2009).

The argument they presented is that tropical countries are responsible for stabilizing the climate with their forests, and thus the costs to keep them standing should be divided by all. This initiative officially caused the REDD issue to be included in the international negotiating agenda.

A year later, at COP-12 in Nairobi, Nigeria (2006), the Brazilian government publicly announced a proposal to address the issue of deforestation. It was very similar to previous ones, but considering voluntary donations instead of the carbon credit market mechanism.

COP-13, held in Bali, Indonesia in 2007, culminated in Decision 1 / CP 13, known as the “Bali Road Map,” to discuss how to insert the REDD topic in a mechanism that will be structured to start in 2012, the year when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end.

It is imperative to observe that this mechanism was initially designed to enable developing countries with tropical forests to participate effectively in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is also necessary to point out that the discussion on avoided deforestation evolved from a mechanism that focused only on avoided deforestation (COP 11, 2005) to include forest degradation (COP 13, 2007).

What about REDD +?

Today, the concept has been expanded and is known as REDD+. It refers to developing a mechanism, or a policy, that should contemplate ways to provide positive incentives to developing countries that take one or more of the following actions to mitigate climate change:

  • Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation;
  • Increasing forest carbon stocks;
  • Sustainable forest management;
  • Forest conservation. (Pinto et al., 2009);



Content by Ricardo Rettmann


Access REDD publication in Brazil: an Amazonian approach

The book presents a discussion about Brazil’s favorable conditions to implement a national REDD+ regime and a proposal for two models of institutional structure to share benefits: one based on state distribution and one based on land categories. REDD+ is discussed here as an essential element in the transition from the Amazon development model to a low carbon emission model, with income distribution and social justice. The most important change the 3rd edition brought was the use of the methodology to calculate avoided deforestation proposed by the Comitê Técnico do Fundo Amazônia [Technical Committee of the Amazon Fund], together with parameters established by Decree 7.390/2010, which regulates the National Policy on Climate Change. This change in calculation does not affect the book’s central message, but can be seen in some key figures that demonstrate the total value of avoided deforestation in Brazil.

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