The scale of the challenge
Deforestation and land-use change cause almost a third of GHG emissions as well as loss of biodiversity and soil degradation. The worst degradation is happening in developing countries where rural communities are locked in negative spirals of poverty and loss of natural resources.
It is crucial that global mechanisms, including carbon and other ecosystem services markets, recognise the central role communities need to play in tackling these problems. Whilst there is currently broad acceptance that forests should be part of international climate change frameworks, there is no guarantee that this will work for communities.
Communities and climate change adaptation
Many rural households are extremely vulnerable to changes that may result from climate change, such as crop failure from drought or damage from floods or fires.
Livelihoods are only sustainable when they can cope with and recover from stresses and shock.
It is essential that programmes combine ‘carbon activities’ with livelihood objectives. This can be achieved by developing forestry, agroforestry and other activities that increase the range of foods, fuel and income generating opportunities. This boosts poor rural groups’ resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The need for simple, practical systems
In many developing countries, current forestry policy and institutions lack the capacity to promote land-use change through the highly bureaucratic rules of the CDM.
Systems like Plan Vivo, which strive to keep levels of bureaucracy and rigidity at a minimum, can play a significant role in catalyzing land-use change, as they enable project coordinators to start activities at a small scale and then increase them as they build capacity.