Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (of which Belize is a signatory), REDD+ refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable forest management and the conservation of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ was proposed as a climate change mitigation mechanism whereby developing countries would be provided with financial rewards and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation. The Bali Action Plan (2007) agreed to consider policy approaches and positive incentives that could deliver such emission reductions and through negotiations that followed the scope was expanded from a focus on deforestation to the breadth of activities that affect forests’ contribution to climate change mitigation. The Cancun agreement (2010) requested countries to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations, and environmental and social safeguards.
The objectives of entering into the REDD+ programme of the United Nations among others is to create an incentive mechanism for tropical forest protection, yield poverty reduction and biodiversity co-benefits countrywide. By accessing a World Bank grant of US $3.8 million dollars, Belize will be able to invest in training, capacity building, research and activities directed to forest protection countrywide.
BENEFITS OF REDD+
Belize recognizes the need for and recognition of the multiple benefits of REDD+ as it relates to enhancement of ecosystem services and the potential delivery of wider social objectives. Although emissions reductions and, therefore, climate change mitigation will remain at the core of REDD+ in Belize, there are many other ecosystem services flowing from forests that contribute to the human well-being and can be enhanced through REDD+ activities and investments. These include watershed protection, building of soils, supporting fisheries, protecting coastlines with mangrove forests, and many others. These services are largely underpinned by biodiversity which also supports ecosystem resilience, which in turn could contribute to human adaptation to climate change.
The multiple benefits of REDD+ also include potential wider social gains in forest governance countrywide. Although some of Belize’s forest has unclear or contested tenure, clarifying land tenure will provide investor confidence in REDD+ and play a role in determining accountability for delivery of emission reduction and in distributing benefits.
As an investment, REDD+ can contribute to capacity building and training to key line ministries involved in the management of lands and forests such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Department of the Environment, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Tourism and others. As an investment at a local level, REDD+ is guided towards capacity building and training to local farmers to better appreciate resources in a better manner and halt forest degradation and deforestation.
In terms of lowering carbon emissions, based on current voluntary market prices for carbon credits, Belize once full capacitated, stands to earn near USD$40 million dollars per year with a reduction of 10% in emissions. The Market operates on verified emissions reductions. If Belize emits 7634884.5MtCO2e per year, and can reduce emissions through direct interventions by 10% to 6871396.05 MtCO2e per year, the manifest reductions of 634884.5 CO2e at an average of $5USD per credit on the voluntary carbon market would give benefits to the magnitude USD$5 * 763488.45 or USD $3817442.25. This is more than double what we earn from present forest uses (logging). Direct interventions for emissions reductions and emissions reductions so generated must be measurable, verifiable and reportable in a manner consistent with international standards.
KEY MESSAGES: REDD+ AND BELIZE
- Clear links exist between REDD+ and Belize’s development objectives, both of which call for a change in the business-as-usual economic development in order to slow the loss of forests; Annual deforestation amounts to between 10,000 to 12,000 acres per year.
- There are multiple benefits to be derived from REDD+. This includes the enhanced provision of ecosystem services, in addition to climate change mitigation, and the potential to deliver various social benefits;
- Although there are challenges in the implementation of REDD+, integrating REDD+ within Belize’s development agenda could maximize synergies in policy and planning, as well as reduce the transaction and implementation costs of pursing each independently.
Conservation through poverty alleviation: enabling sustainable forestry in Belize. ( also known as the Darwin Initiative Sustainable Forestry (SUSFOR) Project in Belize)
This project is funded by the UK government Darwin Initiative round 20 grant scheme. It is a partnership between academia and government. Partners are Oxford University, the Belize Forest Department and the University of Belize Environmental Research Institute. Overall, the project is aimed and improving the knowledge and skills of people managing and using our forests and their tree species for income generation.
On the one hand, the project aims to build up knowledge about the ecological processes taking place in our forests through growth, mortality and net primary productivity, about the abundance and distribution of CITES-listed timber species, about the diversity of trees and how these can inform and improve the way we manage our forests. On the other hand, the scientific outputs are used to improve yield regimes and ensure compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Communities engaging in forest management and who depend on CITES-listed timber species are a primary beneficiary of training and other capacity development carried out by the project. The Forest Department is also a primary beneficiary of capacity development in forest management and monitoring.
Main outputs of the project are improved capacity of the CITES Management Authority and Scientific Authority in managing Mahogany and Rosewood, revised management plans for communities harvesting rosewood, technical capacity development for forest management in the beneficiary institutions, a tree ID guide for forest survey and monitoring, reports on population assessments of CITES-listed species, and new data and insights from re-measurements of net primary productivity and forest dynamics plots. The overall impact of the project is to change the playing field and train the players to better the management of our forests.