REDD+ reveals the economic value of tree-based ecosystems

Trees are key to sustainable development. They store carbon. They drive biodiversity. They regulate the way water flows and prevent soil from eroding. Almost 1.6 billion of us depend directly on forests for food, medicine, fuel and timber. They’re amazing, and every year the International Day of Forests highlights the unique role of trees in supporting human livelihoods.

Celebrating Forests for Sustainable Development

This year’s theme was Celebrating Forests for Sustainable Development. And it turns out forests have considerable economic value, so much that they’re often at the core of sustainable societies. A new report revealed on 21st March, this year’s International Day of Forests, shows how a new pathway to sustainable development can benefit every country on earth.

The REDD+ approach is important because it makes the economic and social benefits of forests crystal clear as well as delivering a practical framework for countries to follow. That’s good news in a consumer-driven world, where an initiative that makes good economic sense is more likely to be adopted than one with fewer or no perceived short term financial benefits.

How REDD+ can support a green economy

The report is called Building Natural Capital – How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy, and it comes from the International Resources Panel. According to them, the REDD+ initiative can easily integrate with any green economy, in any nation, to support development and better the lives of the poor while maintaining and even increasing our forests.

It’s all about placing REDD+ in a landscape-scale planning context so it touches every aspect of an economy including farming, energy, water, finance, transport, trade, industry and cities. For example, it’s tipped to increase agricultural and forestry to meet future needs while improving forest conservation and ecosystem services. Integrated in this way, the initiative adds value to an impressive range of critical elements in any ‘green’ economy.

The report recommends how to achieve integration via better coordination, stronger private sector engagement, changes in tax and revenue, benefit sharing and helping policymakers understand the crucial role forests play in economies. All of which sounds fantastic on paper, but the key will be persuading nations to put the recommendations in place.

Save forests, save the human race

As Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre, says, “Trees are what made Earth habitable for mammals, and destruction of forests will lead to the ultimate destruction of mammals – including humans.


For more information on tackling deforestation, visit the Rainforest Foundation.

Stunning image courtesy of Moyan Brenn.

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