According to the UN, deforestation is responsible for 20 per cent of manmade carbon emissions each year with about 50,000 square miles of tropical forests vanishing on an annual basis.
Studies have shown that halting deforestation is the most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions. The most popular forestry protection strategy appears to be that of integrating forestry investment schemes into the global carbon market.
The logic is that countries will be given a way of monetising the continued survival of their tropical forests through the sale of carbon credits, thus giving them a clear incentive not to cut them down. The US delegation has criticised the idea, however, saying that such a scheme effectively equates to paying loggers not to do something that is already illegal.
James Murray, author of the Business Green blog, believes that forestry investments, carbon credits and anti-logging legislation only represent a partial solution to the problem of deforestation. What really needs addressing is the economics that drive deforestation.
Demand for timber and agricultural land makes illegal and unsustainable logging very attractive. “If governments are really serious about the problem,” writes Murray, “far more needs to be done to address these issues by enhancing productivity on existing agricultural land, curbing demand for biofuel crops that only serve to fuel deforestation, and developing alternatives to timber.”