Increased conflict in tropical forests projected despite Copenhagen Accord

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Washington, January 22 (ANI): A new report has warned that the failure to set legal standards and safeguards for a mechanism to transfer funds to forest-rich nations may trigger a sharp rise in speculation and corruption, placing unprecedented pressures on tropical forest lands and the communities that inhabit them, despite the Copenhagen Accord.

The report, by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), an international coalition of top forest organizations, concludes that unclear land rights in some countries, coupled with threats from corruption, could block success of the US 3.5 billion dollars pledged for a program to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by preventing the unfettered destruction of tropical forests.

The authors of the report cite numerous studies suggesting that in 2010, the potential for enormous profits will lead to increased competition over forest resources between powerful global governments and investors on the one hand, and local actors on the other, resulting in new and resurging violent conflict.

"Throwing heaps of money into a system without agreeing to any framework or standards has the potential to unleash a wave of speculation unlike anything we've ever seen in our lifetime," said Andy White, Coordinator of RRI and one of the lead authors of the report.

"The result will be chaos on the carbon markets, as well as chaos in the field. It will be like the Wild, Wild West," he added.

Figuring prominently in the Copenhagen Accord last December, the initiative known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation-or REDD-was heralded as one of the rare points of consensus going into Copenhagen.

Negotiators hoped REDD might provide low-cost and easy emissions reductions and offsets for developed countries, as well as finance and investment for developing, forest-rich countries.

However, their failure to agree on legal standards and safeguards for implementing REDD schemes suggests that there will be no uniformity of carbon governance across these countries.

The study says that in this situation, the inevitable diversion of funds, land grabs, and conflict will limit reductions in forest emissions and greatly worsen the plight of forest peoples in the South.

"Forests will remain remote from the centers of power, but they will be carved up, controlled, and used as global political bargaining chips like never before," said Jeffrey Hatcher, Policy Analyst for RRI and co-author of the report.

"Unless governments adopt the necessary tenure and governance reforms that will lead to a reduction in emissions, the world faces a devastating back-slide into a 'business as usual' mode of thinking," he added. (ANI)

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