Beyond Carbon: Ecosystem-based benefits of REDD+

Author: UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, UNEP-WCMC
Date Published: October 2010
Beyond Carbon: Ecosystem-based benefits of REDD+ © UN-REDD Programme Secretariat

Forests have come under increasing pressure from human activity in recent decades, leading to significant losses of forest area, and the biodiversity and carbon they contain. Whilst forests directly support the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2004), there are also huge numbers of others whose income depends on converting forest to other land uses. Over the last decade, around 13 million hectares of forest have been lost (FAO, 2010), often being cleared to make way for cattle or crops. Many other areas have been degraded by uncontrolled fires, indiscriminate logging or overuse of other kinds.

When forests that would have been lost or degraded are retained or restored through REDD+, they deliver ‘multiple benefits’ in addition to protecting or enhancing carbon stocks. These ecosystem-based benefits may include conservation of forest biodiversity, water regulation, soil conservation, timber, forest foods and other non-timber forest products. REDD+ can also lead to direct social benefits, such as jobs, livelihoods, land tenure clarification, carbon credit payments or enhanced participation in decision-making under stronger governance. The UN-REDD Programme works with countries to address both ecosystem-based and social benefits, as well as a range of other REDD+ relevant areas. This brochure focuses on the ecosystem-based benefits of REDD+, which often depend upon forest biodiversity.