Friday, March 26, 2010

More Live Blogging from SELE (2010)

This afternoon, several papers on REDD, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. This is, in my view, mainly a program for distributing resources (that is, cash money) from developed to developing countries for the ostensible purpose of conserving forests that are carbon sinks and, thus, mitigate carbon emissions.

The monitoring and verification problems associated with implementing REDD are almost innumerable and very serious. Among other things, if a certain area of forest is protected pursuant to some REDD-related agreement, what's to prevent forest users from merely cutting down more trees in some other, unprotected forest area, thereby undermining any emissions savings from the REDD-related agreement. Moreover, what constitutes "deforestation" under REDD is not entirely clear. Would agreements allow for prescribed burns that might minimize the deleterious effects of wildfires? A study in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology (here) finds that prescribed burns can actually reduce net carbon emissions from specific forests between 18-60% by reducing fuel for wildfires. 

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