Forests of Hopenhagen
Tropical deforestation accounts for 15-20% of all human-induced carbon emissions each year. BirdLife International wants to see this reduced to zero by 2020, along with the acknowledgement of the vital importance of safeguarding biodiversity, ecosystems and the essential services that tropical forests provide in climate change mitigation.
In response to this global crisis, BirdLife International has created the Forests of Hope programme to bring together and build on its successful forest conservation and management programmes throughout the tropics. BirdLife is working in tropical countries around the world, to identify and pilot innovative management, financing and governance systems for forest and biodiversity conservation and restoration, generating local and national economic benefits for sustainable development, and combating climate change.
The aim of the programme is the prevention of deforestation and the restoration of natural forest at up to 20 sites covering at least five million hectares of tropical forest by 2015. The programme will also promote replication of the conservation, governance and financing models being developed, so that forest can be conserved and restored over very much larger areas.
The Forests of Hope programme links forest conservation on the ground to its policy and advocacy work at national and international levels, making impacts in three crucial areas.
- Conserving biodiversity
- Combating climate change
- Maintaining ecosystem services and sustainable livelihoods for local people
"Tropical forests are the most ecologically rich of all forest types. They are home to 70% of the world’s plants and animals — more than 13 million species—and contain 70% of the world's vascular plants, 30% of all bird species, and 90% of invertebrates", said Dr Roger Safford, BirdLife International's Senior Programme Manager. "Forests of Hope is helping to develop and implement forest governance and management systems that will conserve this biodiversity in perpetuity."
Conservation of natural forest is an essential means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Restoration of natural forest can assist in helping restore stocks with the highest carbon content. Forest conservation and restoration plans developed by Forests of Hope, and the threatened nature of the forests selected, ensure the prevention of emissions of large volumes of greenhouse gases.
"Forests of Hope is helping to develop and implement forest governance and management systems that will conserve this biodiversity in perpetuity" —Dr Roger Safford, BirdLife
"Forests of Hope contributes to the development of effective mechanisms under discussion to maintain and restore these carbon stocks", said Melanie Heath, BirdLife's Senior Adviser on Climate Change. These include REDD—Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation—where forested developing countries would undertake to reduce their emissions from deforestation below a historic reference level, and would be financially compensated for doing so.
Deforestation is a disaster for the millions of people who live in and around tropical forests and whose livelihoods depend on the forests. For example, about 4.6 billion people depend for all or some of their water on supplies from forest systems; a large proportion of these live in the tropics. Forests of Hope is helping to safeguard livelihoods and ecosystem services, while respecting, supporting and promoting the rights of local and indigenous peoples, under the principles of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other applicable instruments. In particular, it promotes the improvement of forest governance systems that can secure the rights of local people, as they relate to conservation and the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources.
For example, the establishment of a new Trans-boundary Peace Park, to protect one of the largest remaining blocks of intact forest in the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa – the Gola Complex – has involved several conservation organisations in the BirdLife International Partnership: the two national BirdLife Partners where the forest is found (Conservation Society of Sierra Leone and Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia), the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and Vogelbescherming (BirdLife in The Netherlands), working together with the Forest Development Authority of Liberia, and the Forestry Division in Sierra Leone. The Peace Park unites the Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone (75,000 ha) and the Lofa and Foya Forest Reserves in Liberia (80,000 ha and 100,000 ha respectively), creating a safe-haven for more than 25 restricted-range or threatened birds and over 50 species of mammal.
"The BirdLife Partnership has been working in tropical forest conservation for decades, and in over 50 countries. The grass roots, bottom-up nature of BirdLife positions us well to deliver results on the ground, ensure benefit sharing from tropical forest conservation, and feed lessons upwards into national and global policy", concluded Dr Safford.
For more information visit www.birdlife.org/forests