‘We’ll protect our rainforests for the right price’ – developing countries

A coalition of countries from the developing world are to tell the UN's Montreal Summit that they are prepared to preserve their rainforests, but the wealthy economies must pay them to do so and redress the balance of the 'morally flawed' global carbon markets.

The ten countries, including states from South and Central America, and the Congo basin as well as Papua New Guinea, claim that they are shouldering the full burden of rainforest conservation while the rest of the world shares the benefit.

While there is some debate over the efficacy of rainforests as natural carbon sinks and water purifying systems it is generally accepted that their continued existence offers considerable environmental benefits and plays a vital role in the preservation of global biodiversity.

The members of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations say they do not dispute the science suggesting rainforests are of enormous benefit to the biosphere, but the financial realities of their economies are likely to ensure continued, and extensive, logging as in most cases the forests and their timber represent the country’s largest natural asset.

In recent decades loss of forest, burning timber and change of land use has been the source of up to a quarter of the world’s man-made carbon emissions.

The solution, says the coalition, is for the wealthy countries that wish to see the rainforests kept intact should foot the bill, so the relatively poor countries that host them do not take an economic hit.

This could be easily achieved by allowing the rainforest nations to join existing and future carbon credit schemes which, they argue, currently benefit the industrialised polluters.

“The Rainforest Coalition seeks to highlight and correct the Kyoto Protocol’s specific exclusion of carbon trading markets for the purposes of avoiding deforestation,” said a statement from the coalition.

“Developing nations, while bearing the principle economic burden of preserving the rainforests, have been purposefully barred from utilizing the growing carbon emissions markets toward this critical objective.

“Conversely, industrialized nations largely deforested during previous generations, have structured the Kyoto Accord to effectively credit themselves for past errors by planting trees primarily within their collective borders.

“In effect, the industrialized nations compensate themselves to replant while asking developing nations to conserve the remaining rainforests for free.

“The science is clear – rainforests absorb carbon emissions as a process of photosynthesis and thereby sequester carbon which is released into the atmosphere during deforestation.

“Furthermore, biodiversity is often irreparably damaged during commercial logging operations.

“Rainforests contribute to global climate stability while underpinning our global ecosystem.

“The Kyoto Accord and the resulting carbon emission market system is both logically and morally flawed related to rainforest conservation and sustainable development.”

By Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie