Monday, September 19, 2011

In Congo Basin rainforests, the success of REDD+ leaves adaptation efforts trailing

Frank Swain in CIFOR's Forest Blog: The dominance of REDD+ schemes (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) as a way to tackle climate change has encouraged government offices, international agencies and private groups in the Congo Basin to focus on mitigation efforts, often at the expense of protective adaptation to climate change, according to a recent study by the Center for International Forestry Research.

“When it comes to adaptation, people say ‘show me the impact of climate change’,” says Olufunso Somorin, lead author of The Congo Basin forests in a changing climate: Policy discourses on adaptation and mitigation (REDD+). “But the reality is that climate change is never debated when it comes to mitigation through REDD+. You begin to wonder if we actually have two different climate changes to deal with.”

...To gauge attitudes toward climate change efforts, researchers drew on interviews with over a hundred different actors from Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, including government officials, international agencies such the World Bank, non-governmental organisations including Greenpeace and the WWF, research groups, and representatives from the private sector such as logging and mining companies. They found that the opportunities provided by REDD+ meant efforts to mitigate climate change often took precedence over adaptation in environmental policy discourse.

“Despite the importance of adaptation for a region with high level of poverty and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the focus of the majority of the actors is on REDD+, purely due to the financial incentives it offers,” said Somorin....

Two types of forest are shown in this image. At bottom left is a tropical evergreen forest with an extremely dense canopy, a forest type known locally as limbali forest. Most of the rest of the scene is occupied by a more open forest in which stands of trees (dark green patches) are separated from each other by a sea of lower-growing plants (light green). The appearance of openness, however, is something of an illusion. A dense under story of plants, such as wild ginger that can grow to be 2 meters tall, makes a thicket so impenetrable that you could not walk through it without a machete. From NASA

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