As much as one-fifth of the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation or other types of land degradation. Now, some scientists and conservationists say that paying poor countries to keep their forests intact would be one of the easiest and least expensive measures to check global warming
. To some critics, no doubt, this sounds like blackmail; i.e., give us money or the forest gets it
. But, compared to the current, rather perverse situation -- where, for example, farmers in the Amazon can receive carbon credits for planting eucalyptus trees on freshly cleared land, but none for leaving the forest standing in the first place -- and the RED initiative (that is, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation, not to be confused with the other RED initiative to fight AIDs in Africa
) makes good sense.
Speaking with Mongabay's Rhett Butler, Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Institute, says RED is "the hottest thing going at climate negotiations
the last few months." He adds:
There's a lot at stake. We're talking about what could become the biggest flow of funds ever into tropical forest conservation with all kinds of potential win-wins for improving rural livelihoods and protecting biodiversity.
Already, Ecuador, is asking the international community to pay
some $350 million per year to keep oil deposits in part of its biologically rich Amazon territory untouched. The country's president, Rafael Correa, says Ecuador will give the world a year to respond to the proposal.