Emissions Payments Could Make the Amazon Prosper

Global payments for ecological services rendered by the Amazon such as the carbon retaining in its forests could go a long way to preserving them, a new study has found.

Keeping the Amazon Forests Standing: A matter of values

Keeping the Amazon forests standing: a matter of values, carried by the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht on behalf of WWF, valued the avoided emissions from deforestation or degradation over large areas of the Amazon at between 55 and 78 euro per hectare per year.

These include erosion protection (up to 185 euro per hectare per year) , pollination services by rainforest insects (38 euro/$49 USD) per hectare per year in Ecuadorian coffee plantations), forest products such as honey, fruits and mushrooms (40-80 euro) and ecotourism (2.5 -5.5 Euro).

This compares to the returns from the production of commodities as beef and soya, the main Amazonian products imported by Europe. Soya generates 230 to 470 euro per hectare annually and cattle breeding adds up 40 to 115 euro per hectare per year

While the the major areas of Brazilian soya production are outside the Amazon, the economic interest for this commodity is adding to pressure in the region.

The WWF report shows that the revenue currently received from economic activities in which the natural environment remains intact is not high enough to offset the non-sustainable activities, but finding mechanisms to secure global payments for the forest's ecological services would be a major impetus to both preserving the forest and paying for and providing for proper management.

The key emerging likely mechanism as the world tackles climate change is the s so-called REDD mechanism (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) where industrialised countries would pay for forest preservation and the combating of CO2 emissions in tropical countries.

The plans for this mechanism allow for large money flows to become available for sustainable forest management, which will also benefit local communities such as the native population of the Amazon region.

Johan van de Gronden, General Manager of WWF-Netherlands, comments: “REDD is not the only mechanism for the realisation of sustainable forest management, but certainly the one that is the most promising.’’

WWF Brazil emphasised the importance of tackling issues at the receiving end of any REDD mechanism, such as the lack of clarity concerning land ownership, the illegal occupation of land and the illegal land market.

“National and international companies should also play a role of leadership, selecting their suppliers and cleaning and decarbonizing their productive chains thus participating actively of the sustainable development of the Amazon”, said Denise Hamú, CEO of WWF-Brazil.

As the fourth-largest trade partner of Brazil, the Netherlands is a major contributor to the destruction of the rainforests. For example, the country is the largest importer of soya in the world after China.

“Humans are very dependent on the services provided by the Amazon region that are disappearing rapidly but for which we are not paying as yet: rain for agriculture, clean drinking water, pure air and the combating of global warming,” said Van de Gronden:

“Especially because of its large contribution to the Brazilian economy, the Netherlands can play a leading role in stimulating a sustainable economic development of the Amazon region by choosing to import sustainable produced goods – such as FSC-certified timber- only.’’

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