Global Potential for REDD Programs to Protect Biodiversity
Associate Research Director and Fellow, Resources for the Future
Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are among today’s most pressing global environmental problems. They overlap in deforestation—the second largest anthropogenic source of CO2 emissions and a chief driver of biodiversity loss. While programs to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) may help address both issues, the prospects of preserving both biodiversity and carbon using REDD are not well understood. In this study, we examine the potential of REDD programs to generate benefits to biodiversity at the global scale. We first compile a high resolution global dataset comprising the most recent information available on forest cover loss, forest biomass, opportunity cost of forest conservation, current protected areas, and the ranges of over 10,000 mammal, reptile, amphibian, and bird species. Then, using systematic reserve site selection methods, we determine the spatial configuration and the associated costs of forest conservation programs optimized to reduce either carbon emissions or species loss. We incorporate endogenous opportunity costs of land to address potential land market effects of large conservation efforts. We also use our data on species ranges to estimate species-area relationships, which form the basis of our biodiversity benefit functions.
Our results indicate limited geographic overlap between the least-cost areas for retaining forest carbon and protecting biodiversity. Therefore, carbon-focused policies will likely generate substantially lower benefits to biodiversity than a more biodiversity-focused policy could achieve. For example, we estimate that the carbon offset provisions in the recent domestic U.S. climate policy proposals could protect roughly one fifth of the species projected to be committed to extinction due to deforestation in the next several decades. However, an alternative policy could be designed to more than double the biodiversity benefits while keeping carbon benefits equal. On the other hand, the more biodiversity-oriented program would be roughly twice as costly. When identifying the most prominent target areas for policies focused on carbon, we find that they concentrate in the Amazon region, Central Africa, and Indonesia and the surrounding areas of Southeast Asia. A species focused policy would distribute conservation efforts much more widely and invest in regions less rich in carbon yet richer in species. These results highlight the need to systematically consider biodiversity in the design and implementation of forest conservation programs to support international climate policy.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Location
7th Floor Conference Room
1616 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20036 All seminars will be in the 7th Floor Conference Room at RFF, 1616 P Street NW. Attendance is open, but involves pre-registration no later than two days prior to the event. For questions and to register to an event, please contact Khadija Hill at [email protected] (tel. 202-328-5174). Updates to our academic seminars schedule will be posted at www.rff.org/academicseminarseries.
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