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Blog: Broadening REDD+ to Bring New Opportunities for Private Sector Investment in Forests, Climate Change Mitigation and Green Growth (Gerhard Dieterle and Meerim Shakirova)

This blog was submitted by Gerhard Dieterle, Adviser and FIP Program Manager, and Meerim Shakirova, FIP Focal Point team.


Today’s REDD+ agenda recognizes that climate change mitigation and development are intrinsically connected, aware that the productive functions of forests must be part of the solution. Indeed, the drivers of deforestation are largely outside the forest sector, and the fight against deforestation and forest degradation cannot be won without addressing the rapidly growing demand for food, timber, fiber and wood-based energy and non-timber forest products.

Today and tomorrow’s demands on forest are staggering:  

  • Some 1.3 billion people are fully or partially dependent on the use of forest resources.
  • Demand for fuel wood and charcoal will continue to increase up to 2050 and beyond in order to meet the needs of around 2.5 billion people.
  • Total demand for wood is projected to grow faster than the population over the same period, rising from a current 3.5 billion m3 per year to over 15 billion m3 per year.
  • Some forecasts estimate the demand-supply gap for industrial round wood at up to 4.5 billion m3 by the year 2050.

Scaling up sustainable management of forest resources is critical to meeting these needs while mitigating climate change. To help encourage investment in this area, there are climate benefits that sustainably managed forests could provide beyond the forest sector that should be taken into consideration through a broader definition of REDD+. These include:

  • Direct substitution of fossil fuels with renewable, forest-based energy sources, such as fuel wood and charcoal;
  • Indirect substitution of construction materials and other consumer products, such as aluminum, steel, and concrete, which are energy intensive to produce, with renewable forest-based materials; and
  • The forest products carbon pool – the carbon that continues to be stored over time, especially in durable, long-lived wood products such as furniture and construction material (which today is not appropriately accounted and recognized).

Expansion of the REDD+ approach, building on the productive functions of forests. Meerim Shakirova. 2015.Expansion of the REDD+ approach, building on the productive functions of forests. Meerim Shakirova. 2015.

Emerging research[1] clearly indicates that such substitution and storage benefits could be much higher than all forest-based mitigation options combined, and could be as high as 8 GtCO2/year. It shows that there is potential to close the current mitigation gap. While some see widening mitigation options from the use of productive forests as a risky proposition, these numbers clearly demonstrate potential contribution to sustainable development and green growth.

For example, expanding REDD+ to include substitution and storage would provide additional incentive to specifically account for these mitigation opportunities and to invest in sustainably managed forests and forest products. This could be especially important for encouraging national low carbon development plans and more private sector investment, which must play a prominent role if we are to harness the full potential of climate mitigation benefits from forests and value chains. In addition to greenhouse gas reduction co-benefits and increased climate resilience, private investments would create major development benefits, such as employment, green growth in downstream industries and financial returns to local communities.

If applied at scale, greenhouse gas emission reductions from rebuilding forest capital stock and in particular from substituting fossil-based materials and energy could become a significant factor in the global effort to mitigate climate change. Moreover, climate-smart forest management holds a much higher promise than reducing greenhouse gas emission: it is a holistic approach for poverty alleviation, economic growth and sustainable development.

The PROFOR activity Stimulating Private Sector Engagement in REDD+ will build further knowledge of how productive uses of forests and forest products could significantly contribute to increased climate change mitigation outcomes, and identify options for increasing private sector investment in sustainable forest value chains.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the Program on Forests (PROFOR).


[1] De Galbert et al. (2013): Widening the scope of forest-based mitigation options in the tropics - The roles of forests in substituting for fossil energy sources and moving towards a greener economy", UN-ECE



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Last Updated : 12-19-2016