The 24 page demonstration atlas, launched at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, shows that areas high in both carbon and biodiversity do exist and can be identified by relatively simple mapping tools. Prioritising such areas could give the 'double benefit' of reducing emissions from land use change whilst conserving biodiversity. Three regional maps along with six national maps are shown for the tropics, derived from global-scale data.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "At a time of scarce financial resources and economic concerns, every dollar, euro or yen needs to deliver double, triple even quadruple dividends. Intelligent investment in forests in developing countries is a key example".
By demonstrating the potential for such 'win win' areas to be identified, the atlas could have particular input to the current discussions on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD).
These new maps are just a first step towards demonstrating how combining different types of data can help to identify areas where opportunities and benefits overlap for storing carbon and protecting biodiversity. A new, detailed and web-based atlas is expected in 2009 in the run up to UN climate meeting in Copenhagen. The atlas will cover a larger number of countries with more accurate, national data on carbon and biodiversity where available, and examine options to include ecosystem services and impacts on local livelihoods. As emphasised by Mr Steiner, ensuring safeguards for local and indigenous people will be paramount to a successful REDD.
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