The Future of the Worlds Forests: Ideas vs Ideologies: 7 (World Forests)

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As it is often the poorest that are most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change 7 , reducing deforestation provides an opportunity to simultaneously tackle the problem at its source whilst helping to promote the resilience of those most vulnerable to climate change. Forests provide essential ecosystem services beyond carbon storage and emissions offsetting — such as health through disease regulation , livelihoods providing jobs and local employment , water watershed protection, water flow regulation, rainfall generation , food, nutrient cycling and climate security.

Protecting tropical forests therefore not only has a double-cooling effect, by reducing carbon emissions and maintaining high levels of evaporation from the canopy 4 , but also is vital for the continued provision of essential life-sustaining services. These services are essential for the well-being of people and the planet, however they remain undervalued and therefore cannot compete with the more immediate gains delivered from converting forests into commodities 8.

Ecosystem services operate from local to global scales and are not confined within national borders; all people are therefore reliant on them and it is in our collective interest to ensure their sustained provisioning into the future.

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Therefore, tackling the destruction of tropical forests is core to any concerted effort to combat climate change Traditional approaches to halting tropical forest loss have typically been unsuccessful, as can be seen from the fact that deforestation and forest degradation continue unabated. REDD reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation incentivises a break from historic trends of increasing deforestation rates and greenhouse gases emissions. It is a framework through which developing countries are rewarded financially for any emissions reductions achieved associated with a decrease in the conversion of forests to alternate land uses REDD provides a unique opportunity to achieve large-scale emissions reductions at comparatively low abatement costs By economically valuing the role forest ecosystems play in carbon capture and storage, it allows intact forests to compete with historically more lucrative, alternate land uses resulting in their destruction In its infancy, REDD was first and foremost focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

A year later, this was further elaborated on as the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks was upgraded so as to receive the same emphasis as avoided emissions from deforestation and forest degradation Having said this, prospective co-benefits can easily transform into prospective co-detriments, making the earlier question arguably irrelevant.

A final mechanism is therefore not yet in place and operating at scale. Within the context of emissions limitation and reduction commitments in Article 2, the Kyoto Protocol refers to the protection and enhancement of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, sustainable forest management practices and afforestation and reforestation activities The inclusion of the above practices was restricted, as it was only afforestation and reforestation activities that were considered eligible for generating credits under the Clean Development Mechanism.

Reducing deforestation or forest degradation was excluded from the decision due to concerns of leakage The concern was that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation was unlikely to achieve a net reduction in emissions due to the fact that whilst reduced in one area, the same pressures may present themselves elsewhere, as the emissions producing activity is merely relocated The notion of avoided deforestation as an important climate change mitigation mechanism then did not re-enter the negotiations until COP in Montreal, Throughout , there had been increasing attention paid to the individual roles of countries at different developmental stages in efforts to combat climate change.

The European Commission laid the foundations for a climate change strategy with measures targeting both industrialised and developing countries.

Despite their growing share of emissions, developing countries expressed concerns that imposing reduction targets could hamper their economic development. Meanwhile, some developed countries, such as the U. From either viewpoint, the benefits of positive incentives that would permit developing countries to participate in emissions reduction efforts whilst maintaining progress towards their wider development goals were clear.

Led by Papua New Guinea, the Coalition came together as a collaboration aiming to reconcile forest stewardship with economic development 18 and highlight and remedy the exclusion of reducing emissions from deforestation from carbon markets under the Kyoto Protocol. It neglected to identify the specific meaning of market-based approaches, whether sub-national activities could be supported by markets, or whether bilateral or non-convention developed mechanisms would be recognised by the UNFCCC.

With no compromise reached, the issue was suspended and discussions set to resume at the next SBSTA meeting in June However, the failure to reach consensus on the issue of verification had knock-on effects for decisions on results-based finance Negotiations under the SBI were stalled when objections over procedural issues were raised by a number of Parties. These decisions relate to addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; modalities for national forest monitoring systems; and the timing and frequency of presentations of summary information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected The draft decision on drivers represented an important step forward after COP18 in Doha failed to produce any meaningful outcomes on this.

The decision also supports subnational monitoring and reporting as an interim measure, stating that NFMS should build on existing systems and be flexible enough to incorporate any improvements over time Two emerging topics and their relation to climate change were also discussed at Bonn: agricultural activities and high-carbon ecosystems. The Parties agreed to define the scope and role of agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

A technical workshop on the issue is being prepared and will be held at COP19 with the aim of producing a draft text for future negotiations. Furthermore, the decision establishes the process for verification; that is the process of technical analysis that needs to be undertaken in order to receive payments for results-based actions. The team of experts performing the analysis i. The decision also details what the technical analysis will entail paragraph Throughout the negotiations there were disagreements over the need for new institutions, with Papua New Guinea strongly pushing for a new body to be established under the COP The only decisions offered are on the establishment of an information hub on the UNFCCC website, which will contain information on results and payments paragraph COP failed to address these remaining issues in Lima.

With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Crucial Climate Protectors - The New York Times

Substantively, a number of key issues remain unresolved, especially the need for more guidance on safeguards, and decisions on non-carbon benefits and non-market mechanisms. Others have pointed out that country-driven processes that allow for flexibility should not be compromised.

No decisions were made on this yet. According to general consensus, these non-carbon benefits should be determined at the country level taking into account the relationship between local communities, indigenous peoples and their forests. Religions that oppose the heavenly to the earthly, elevating the former and scorning the latter, are in effect denying that we emerge from and wholly depend on nature.

Forests: why are they important?

If you think of the touchable, eatable, climbable, sexy, singing, material world as fallen, corrupt, and sinful, then you are likely to abuse it. You are likely to say that we might as well cut down the last old-growth forests, drain the last swamps, catch the last tuna and cod, burn the last drops of oil, since the end time is coming, when the elect few will be raptured away to the immortal realm, and everything earthly will be utterly erased.

But our language preserves a countervailing wisdom. In Latin, materia means stuff, anything substantial, and in particular it means wood. Materia in turn derives from mater , which means mother.

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In the collective imagination that gave rise to these meanings, trees were understood to epitomize matter, and matter was understood to be life-giving. Perhaps we could tap into this wisdom by recovering another word that derives from mater — matrix , which means womb. It is easy to feel nurtured among these ancient trees.

I breathe the forest. I drink its waters. I take in the forest through all my senses. In order to survive here for any length of time, I would need to wear the forest, its fur and skin and fiber; I would need to draw my food from what lives here alongside me; I would need to burn its fallen branches for cooking and for keeping warm; I would need to frame my shelter with its wood and clay and stone.

Above all, I would need to learn to think like the forest, learn its patterns, obey its requirements, align myself with its flow. There are no boundaries between the forest and the cosmos, or between myself and the forest, and so the intelligence on display here is continuous with the intelligence manifest throughout the universe and with the mind I use to apprehend and speak of it.


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Everything here either starts as food or winds up as food. None of the alders growing on this ever-shifting bank is thicker than a baseball bat. The next big flood will scour them away.

The 10 Largest Forests on Earth

Beside me, the sinewy roots of an upturned stump seem to mimic the muscular current in the stream. The bar is littered with gray and ruddy stones pockmarked by holes that betray the volcanic origins of this rubble. Where better than such a place to recognize that the essence of nature is flow — of lava, electrons, water, wind, breath. Materia , matter, the seemingly solid stuff we encounter — trees, stones, bears, bones — is actually fluid, constantly changing, like water shapes in the current. Both speak truly.

Mountains do move, arising and eroding away over geological time, just as organisms grow and decay, species evolve, tectonic plates shift, stars congeal and burn and expire, entire galaxies shine for a spell and then vanish. Nothing in nature is fixed. Conservationists have often been accused of wishing to freeze the land in some favored condition — for example, the American continent as it was before European colonization. Back when maps described old-growth as large saw-timber, scientists spoke of forests reaching climax, as if at some point the flow would cease.

But we now realize that no such stasis is possible, even if it were desirable. If flux is the nature of nature, however, we still must make distinctions among the kinds of change. We cannot speak against the damage caused by human behavior unless we distinguish between natural change — for example, the long history of extinctions — and anthropogenic change — for example, the recent acceleration in extinctions due to habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and other disturbances caused by humans.

The capacity to make such a distinction, and to act on it, may be as unique to our species as the capacity to use symbolic language. Why else do we treasure diamonds and gold? Why else do Creationists cling to the notion that all species were made in exactly their present form? Our yearning for the fixed, like our craving for dominion over nature, may be another expression of our fear of aging and death.

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This occurs to me as I sit, transfixed, beside the narrowest, noisiest passage in the riffles on Lookout Creek. Upstream, a gigantic Douglas fir has fallen across the creek, its trunk still as straight as when it was alive. Downstream, another giant has fallen, this one snapped in the middle.

Designed to continue for two centuries, this research aims to document, among other things, the role of dead wood in forest ecology and in the sequestering of carbon. The only breathing I detect is my own. A musician composes with notes, a painter with colors, a writer with letters and words, much as life orchestrates carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other ingredients into organisms.

These organisms — trees, fungi, ravens, humans — persist for a while, change over time, and eventually dissolve into their constituents, which will be gathered up again into living things. Art and life both draw energy from sunlight, directly or indirectly, to counter entropy by increasing order. Organisms interact biophysically with everything in their ecosystem, and ultimately with the whole universe. By contrast, the symbolic structures that humans create — songs, stories, poems, paintings, photographs, films, diagrams, mathematical formulas, computer codes — convey influence only insofar as they are read, heard, or otherwise perceived by humans.

What happens when we turn our interpretive powers on living organisms? Does raven, Douglas fir, spider, or lichen mean anything different, or anything more, when it is taken up into human consciousness? What we think or imagine about other species clearly influences our behavior toward them — as notions about the wickedness of wolves led to their extermination throughout much of their historic range, and as new understanding about the role of predators has led to the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone and elsewhere.

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But aside from this practical impact, does our peculiar sort of mind bear any greater significance in the scheme of things? Is it merely an accidental result of mechanical processes, an adaptive feature that has powered our — perhaps fleeting — evolutionary success? Would the universe lose anything vital if our species suddenly vanished? We can only form hunches, and, right or wrong, these will influence the spirit of our work and the tenor of our lives. It is not separate from what we call matter, but is a revelation of the inwardness of things.

I suspect that our symbol-wielding intelligence is a manifestation of the creative, shaping energy that drives the cosmos, from the dance of electrons to the growth of trees. If this is so, then our highest calling may be to composition — paying attention to some portion of the world, reflecting on what we have perceived, and fashioning a response in words or numbers or paint or song or some other expressive medium. Our paintings on cave walls, our photos of quasars, our graphs and sonnets and stories may be the gifts we return for the privilege of sojourning here on this marvelous globe.

If intelligence means the capacity for solving puzzles or using language, then surely the ravens that clamor above me or the wolves that roam the far side of the mountains possess it.


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