By RTCC Staff
Countries must tackle the mistrust surrounding forest finance to ensure the success of REDD+, a leading forest conservationist has warned.
Andrew Mitchell, Executive Director of the Global Canopy Programme, the organisation behind The Little Forest Finance Book, told RTCC that the complexity of the language used when talking about forest finance has created a culture of fear and doubt in developing countries.
He warned that this is holding back the UN’s REDD+ scheme.
“The problem is that there are very different languages that people use at every part of the supply chain from forests to finance,” he said. “If you are a forest chief you think very differently than if you are a boardroom chief in a big ivory tower in London.
“In many countries I go to, if you talk to [forest] ranchers or people in the government they say ‘oh we don’t want anything to do with these capitalists and these carbon cowboys that come around. They are going to rip us off.’
“If you understand a bit about the finance then you can see who is the cowboy and who is not. And you will begin to understand when these big financiers come in; what their language is.”
The Little Forest Finance Book aims to breakdown the complex language of forest funding into a simple and easily digestible format.
Forests are the world’s largest carbon sink absorbing 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 each year and storing billions more. The UN’s REDD+ initiative aims to offer financial incentives to governments and communities in developing countries to conserve their forests for this purpose.
The Global Canopy Programme estimates that around $30 billion will be needed annually to protect the world’s forests, following an initial spending of $81 billion.
Mitchell says this is a small price to pay to ensure the vast services the forests provide, not only as carbon stores but benefits in terms of clean water, energy, timber and health, continue to be protected.
“This is an investment in the stocks of biodiversity which produce the flows of ecosystem services which we all depend on. Those ecosystem services are massive, they are probably worth anything up to $4-5 trillion a year,” he said.