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Forests and Climate Change

The world's forests have been declining at an alarming rate, especially over the past fifty years or so, due to industrial logging, conversion to plantations and agriculture. Forest loss accounts for 12-15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as the entire transport sector.


It is now widely accepted that the battle against climate change cannot be won unless global deforestation is halted. Consequently forest issues have risen high up the international agenda; most importantly with the launch of the Bali Action Plan at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),  in December 2007, which brought yet another acronym to the forests debate: Reduced Emissions from Deforestation & forest Degradation (REDD).

A REDD agreement has the potential to protect forests on a global scale - a goal that has eluded policy makers, the timber industry and campaigners for decades. However, a bad REDD agreement could prove disastrous for the world's forests and the people that live in and depend upon them. Vested interests including industrial timber and agricultural are lobbying for a REDD agreement that allows ‘business as usual' forest destruction to continue. This is not a viable option if we are to win the battle against climate change.

Global Witness is determined to fight for a REDD agreement that will protect the world's forests, respect the rights of forest-dependent peoples and preserve the fantastically rich biodiversity that forests contain. See recommendations. We are attending all the UN negotiating meetings on climate change and campaigning hard at them for a fair REDD deal.

We have become increasingly concerned by efforts to exclude civil society observers. We believe that the negotiations - and ultimately any agreement - will benefit substantially from increased openness and interaction between parties and observers.

Global Witness is co-founder of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA), a network of environmental and social NGOs committed to keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact, and the carbon they contain out of the atmosphere, in an equitable and transparent way.

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