If the forests are not protected and emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and changes in land use are not reduced, effective climate protection and limiting rises in temperature to less than 2°C will hardly be possible anymore. After all, deforestation and forest degradation, especially in the countries with tropical forests, are the cause of around 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions that harm the climate.1 But without climate protection, forests and biodiversity will also sustain severe damage.
Therefore, political solution strategies for the protection of forests, biodiversity and the climate have to be regarded as closely linked, and it has to be borne in mind that the conservation of forests needs to become economically more viable than the destruction of forests. It therefore makes sense that in the context of the UN negotiations on climate change, a mechanism to protect the climate, what is known as REDDplus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks in developing countries) is being debated and other international resolutions, such as the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) are being entered into this debate.
In a correspondingly designed REDDplus mechanism, we would then see an opportunity to protect the forests, the biodiversity of forest ecosystems and the areas that hundreds of millions of people live and work in, provided that certain criteria are observed. Furthermore, REDDplus can only be a sub-field of a more broadly conceived mix of political tools. Designating further large forest conservation areas while considering social criteria, import bans on illegally logged and traded timber, changes in consumption patterns involving the intensive use of land, lowering the demand for non-sustainably produced timber and agricultural products (especially also in industrialised countries) and the expansion of nearnatural and sustainably used areas of forest continue to be indispensible for a comprehensive conservation of the forests.
Only if the perpetrators of deforestation at national and international level are addressed, especially the increasing demand for timber and agricultural products and evolving infrastructural measures, will REDDplus be able to develop an impact. Political instruments to combat corruption, designation and recognition of indigenous territories and the support of settlers and small farmers together with sustainable land use and adaptation to climate change serve the long-term effectiveness and success of REDDplus. In order for REDDplus to contribute to this sustainable development strategy in the long term, through capacity development at national level and the creating and strengthening of institutions, developing countries have to be enabled to develop REDDplus as an integral element of national government programmes. To establish a functioning national, institutional and strategic infrastructure for REDDplus in the countries and give due consideration to the different capacities in the developing countries, it is recommendable to carry out the implementation of REDDplus step by step, in three phases.