Thursday, 8 October 2009

How the logging industry is greenwashing REDD

Bangkok – 8 October, 2009 – Greenpeace warned European countries today that they risk both becoming funders of the logging industry and supporters for forest destruction and undermining global efforts to avert climate chaos.

The risk is contained in a small but extremely important set of wording in the details of the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) agreement being worked on by negotiators at the UN climate talks in Bangkok. It centres around the two crucial terms: ‘Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)’ and ‘forest conversion.'
In both the 2007 Bali Action Plan and in Poznan last year, references to how forests should be treated under REDD used the term ‘sustainable management of forests (SMF)’, a broad definition including things like local community use and conservation.

However, since then, the forestry sector has sneaked its own term into the negotiation text – one which has an entirely different meaning: “sustainable forest management (SFM).” SFM is industry-speak for industrial-scale logging (1).

“The impacts caused by this tiny and confusing change of language could be disastrous. The new text coming out this morning shows that even the last ‘safeguards against conversion of natural forests to forest plantations’ has disappeared. This demonstrates the lack of concern about forest protection by the EU. The EU is pushing the forests and climate closer to death,” said Greenpeace Forest Policy Advisor Grant Rosoman at a press conference in Bangkok to release the Why Logging Will Not Save the Climate report (2)

“If this text is agreed, it means that the industry could continue logging old forests, accelerating climate change. Unless the wording is changed back, it will make a mockery out of REDD. These attempts to greenwash REDD must be rejected,” said Rosoman.

Contrary to popular belief, old primary forests are still growing and still storing carbon, which is extremely important for stopping climate change. Globally, deforestation accounts for up to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“What is even more worrying is that European countries, in particular, Sweden, Finland, and France, future funders of REDD, do not even recognise the massive difference between these two terms,” said Laura Furones of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA) (3). “There is literally no precise or established translation of the terms in most European languages, but the difference in the nuances could literally threaten the future of a forest.”

ECA has today sent a letter to EU Environment Ministers outlining NGO concerns about this potential change in policy.

Kenn Mondiai, a former forester with a logging company and now with the Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry Forum, said, “SFM is a logging term, not a climate one. It will neither reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forests nor make a positive contribution to slowing climate change. REDD funds must not be used to support or subsidise SFM, which is simply an industry greenwash.”

Greenpeace is calling for an end to tropical deforestation by 2020. Climate change and deforestation are a vicious cocktail – only zero deforestation can sufficiently increase the resilience of forests to climate change.

“With SFM often providing a smokescreen for a destructive forestry, if this term is part of a Copenhagen deal, Governments may end up using climate protection funds to subsidise forest destruction and climate change.”

Tom Wang, Greenpeace: Bangkok local +66 8 5332 4979 or + 86 1391 0902 617

(1) A study by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) found that the potential emission reductions from SFM were only three percent of the mitigation potential of REDD and forest restoration.


(3) The Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA): Global Witness; Humane Society International; Rainforest Action Network; Rainforest Foundation Norway; The Rainforest Foundation U.K.; Wetlands International; The Wilderness Society


Cindy Baxter
Greenpeace International Communications (climate)
in Bangkok for climate talks
local BKK number: +66 (0) 8 2334 3915
or +31 646 197 332

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.

It comprises 27 independent national/regional offices in over 40 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, as well as a co-ordinating body, Greenpeace International.