Friday, August 21, 2009

Study warns that UN Climate panel's defintion of forest sets canopy cover threshold too low, puts forests at risk

Forest definition comes under fire : Nature News
Ecologists accuse framework convention of barking up the wrong tree.
Natasha Gilbert

Ecologists have questioned the UNFCCC's definition of a forest.
The health of the world's forests — and their capacity to lock away carbon — could be jeopardized by logging if the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) definition of a forest is not changed, a study warns.
A future climate deal could see developing countries financially compensated for preserving their forests. The UNFCCC defines a forest as an area of land 0.05–1 hectare in size, of which more than 10–30% is covered by tree canopy. Trees must also have the potential to reach a minimum height of 2-5 metres.
Countries participating in the UNFCCC can choose how they want to define a forest from within those ranges. For example, in Brazil a forest is defined as an area of land greater than 1 hectare, with more than 30% canopy cover and a minimum tree height of 5 metres. By contrast, Ghana defines a forest as an area of land greater than 0.1 hectare, with more than 15% canopy cover and a minimum tree height of 2 metres.
But a report in the journal Conservation Letters, says that the UNFCCC has set the proportion of land that must be covered by tree canopy too low. Nophea Sasaki, a forest ecologist at Harvard University, and an author of the study, says that woodland could be 'severely degraded' but still be classified as a forest under the current UNFCCC definition.

MORE ON THIS STORY in: UN forest rules undermine principals of REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiative: Study

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