Sunday, December 13, 2009

Forests heal our spirits and lift our souls

Global views on forests and climate change-

a panel of speakers including Hilary Benn, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from the UK and Nicholas Stern, Chair if the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, presented the critical nature of saving forests both from the spiritual perspective to the blunt economics of the price of the carbon they sequester.

There were two questions posed- Why, and how? The why is easy, the long list of ecosystem services, including the preservation of biodiversity to climate regulation were obvious, Benn was preaching to the choir, but he also reminded us of the forest’s ability to heal our spirits and lift our souls and the myriad other social benefits afforded those who are blessed enough to live with, visit or just know that forests exist.

How to save them is a question of economics. Saving forests is one of the lowest cost mitigation strategies we have available to curb climate change. In order for this to work, however, we must act across the globe at the same time, in other words, leakage has to be avoided or the cost goes up. Stern stressed that policies need to be designed in the countries where the forests stand, but that the costs need to be shared globally. Also, the demand side of the problem needs to be addressed. The UK is pushing for more timber certification (to avoid purchasing illegally logged timber), but Benn called for an all out ban on the sale of illegally sourced timber (something the U.S. has recently done with the passage of the Lacey Act amendment of 2008).

The solution? REDD plus must be included in the new climate agreement that (may?) come out of Copenhagen at the end of the week…

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