Dangers of inadequate design of REDD mechanism include undermining incentives for clean energy development by reducing the price of carbon offsets and potentially subsidizing industrial activities in forests, including plantation forestry and logging. Did REDD talks in Durban make progress that could help avert these dangers?

By Elizabeth Kahurani in Durban, South Africa

Agriculture is a major driver of land use change, with negative impacts to existing biodiversity and natural resources, yet it remains the only means to feed a growing, hungry population.

Dr. Henry Neufeldt (left) with other panelists during the side event in Durban, South AfricaTo maintain a balance between increasing the ‘food basket’ while conserving the environment, Dr. Henry Neufeldt, head of climate change at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), says there is need to shift from a business as usual approach to one that is pro-poor and climate-smart in agricultural production.

Dr. Neufeldt was speaking at a side event organized by ICRAF at the ongoing UN climate talks in Durban.

By Elizabeth Kahurani

As drylands ambassador of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Dr. Dennis Garrity, a Distinguished Board Research Fellow at ICRAF, highlighted success stories of the evergreen climate smart agriculture initiative at the Dryland Forest Summit and Land Day 5 events in Durban, South Africa.

Dr. Dennis Garrity (left) with the Deputy President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the opening of Land Day 5 which was held at the margins of COP 17 in Durban, South AfricaThe events were held at the 2011 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of Parties.

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Agroforestry, reforestation and afforestation constitute very relevant strategies for alleviating pressure on forests and significantly contributing to co-benefits in a landscape approach to REDD+.

Group photo taken at the World Agroforestry Centre headquarters after a meeting with Professor Wangari Maathai. During the visit, Prof Maathai met senior officials from the Centre, including Director-General Dr. Dennis

By Elizabeth Kahurani

When I first heard those words by Prof Wangari Maathai, I was too young to comprehend what she really meant, but I remember it was a phrase that impressed and stayed with me. Now that I am full grown, I only know too well the import of the words, more so now that I report on climate change and environmental issues. A good friend of the Worldagroforestry Centre (ICRAF), many staff will fondly remember her visits and spirited discussions. Her memory lives on, not just in the trees of neighbouring Karura forest and others elsewhere but also in the people she inspired to take care of Mother Nature. Indeed, as illustrated in her favourite hummingbird story, each one of us need to ask ourselves whether we are the hummingbird that tried to stop the fire in the forest even with its seemingly limited ability, or are we the huge animals like the elephant, with what it takes but watching from the side.

Reports on insufficient efforts to curb high deforestation rates in the wake of stalled international negotiations on how to reverse the trend mostly spell a bleak future climate for developing countries. That is why The Greener Side of REDD+: Lessons for REDD+ from Countries where Forest Area Is Increasing report by The Rights Resources Institute (RRI) makes for a great read and an incredible resource.  

Featured on the weekly issue of the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy DG Environment News Alert Service is ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins research that provides new perspectives to guide a wholesome approach to efforts on reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation.