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Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas and Slowing CC

Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas and Slowing CC

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Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing ClimateChange
Taylor H. Ricketts
, Britaldo Soares-Filho
, Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca
, Daniel Nepstad
, AlexanderPfaff 
, Annie Petsonk 
, Anthony Anderson
, Doug Boucher
, Andrea Cattaneo
, Marc Conte
, KenCreighton
, Lawrence Linden
, Claudio Maretti
, Paulo Moutinho
, Roger Ullman
, Ray Victurine
World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C., United States of America,
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil,
Global Environment Facility,Washington, D.C., United States of America,
Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts, United States of America,
Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental daAmazonia, Belem, Brazil,
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America,
Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C., United States of America,
World Wildlife Fund-Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil,
Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, D.C., United States of America,
Stanford University, Stanford, California,United States of America,
WWF-Belgium, Brussels, Belgium,
Linden Trust for Conservation, New York, New York, United States of America,
Wildlife ConservationSociety, Bronx, New York, United, States of America
Forest clearing and degradation accountfor roughly 15% of global greenhouse gasemissions, more than all the cars, trains,planes, ships, and trucks on earth [1,2].This is simply too big a piece of theproblem to ignore; fail to reduce it and wewill fail to stabilize our climate [3]. Although the recent climate summit inCopenhagen failed to produce a legallybinding treaty, the importance of forestconservation in mitigating climate changewas a rare point of agreement betweendeveloped and developing countries and isemphasized in the resulting Copenhagen Accord [4,5]. Language from the meeting calls for developing countries to reduceemissions from deforestation and degra-dation (nicknamed REDD), and forwealthy nations to compensate them fordoing so [4,6–8].For REDD to succeed, forest nationsmust develop policies and institutions toreduce and eventually eliminate forestclearing and degradation [9]. One of themost straightforward components of such aprogram is also one of the oldest and mostreliable tricks in the conservation book:protected areas. Indigenous lands and otherprotectedareas(hereafterILPAs[10–12])— created to safeguard land rights, indigenouslivelihoods, biodiversity, and other values— contain more than 312 billion tons of carbon (GtC) [13]. Crucially, and paradox-ically, this‘‘protectedcarbon’’isnotentirelyprotected. While ILPAs typically reducerates of deforestation compared to sur-rounding areas [14–18], deforestation (withresulting greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions)often continues within them, especiallyinside those that lack sufficient funding,management capacity, or political backing [19].These facts suggest an attractive butoverlooked opportunity to reduce GHGemissions: creating new ILPAs and streng-thening existing ones [20]. Here, we evalu-ate the case for this potential REDDstrategy. We focus on the Amazon basingiven its importance for global biodiversi-ty, its enormous carbon stocks, and itsadvanced network of indigenous lands andother protected areas [16,21].
The Policy Playing Field
Several policy alternatives for REDDhave been under negotiation, both inCopenhagen and elsewhere. One approachis for developed nations to capitalize fundsto reduce GHG emissions in developincountries. For example, the Amazon Fund,initially capitalized by Norway, will help tofinance REDD efforts in the Brazilian Amazon [9,22]. A second approach iscompliance markets, in which nations orregulated entities must reduce their emis-sions or buy offsets from others. Thisapproach will take more time, but negoti-ations are under way to develop or expandcompliance markets for REDD within theUnited Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC), the Europe-an Union, and the United States [6,8,9,23].Both of these frameworks—for the nearterm, at least—will likely emphasize reduc-tions in carbon emissions compared againstnational baselines [6,7,24]. This crucialpoint has two implications here. First,although Brazil’s Amazonian forests contain47
-9 GtC [9], Brazil will be primarilycompensated not for these stocks, but forslowing the net rate of loss from them (i.e.,reducing carbon emissions). Second, coun-tries will estimate their nationwide emissionsbaselines and then earn international com-pensation for reductions below this baseline[7]. It will be up to each nation to decidehow to achieve these reductions (e.g.,protecting forests, redirecting drivers of deforestation, and other land-based strate-gies), and how to allocate any paymentsreceived.
The Role for ILPAs
Given this likely policy landscape, nationscan use ILPAs to reduce emissions in twoways: first, create new ILPAs in areas facing deforestation risk now and in the foreseeablefuture; second, strengthen the managementof existing ILPAs to reduce ongoing defores-tation within and surrounding their borders.
The Perspective section provides experts with aforum to comment on topical or controversial issuesof broad interest.
Ricketts TH, Soares-Filho B, da Fonseca GAB, Nepstad D, Pfaff A, et al. (2010) Indigenous Lands,Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change. PLoS Biol 8(3): e1000331. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000331
March 16, 2010
2010 Ricketts et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the CreativeCommons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,provided the original author and source are credited.
The Gordan and Betty Moore Foundation, The Linden Trust for Conservation, and Roger Santprovided support for the workshop that resulted in this work.
ARPA, Amazon Region Protected Areas; GHG, Greenhouse Gas; ILPAs, Indigenous Lands andProtected Areas; REDD, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation; UNFCCC, United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change* E-mail: taylor.ricketts@wwfus.org
Competing Interests:
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
PLoS Biology | www.plosbiology.org 1 March 2010 | Volume 8 | Issue 3 | e1000331
That new ILPAs reduce deforestationmay seem an obvious point, but howmuch? Since 2002 in the Brazilian Ama-zon, the average probability of deforesta-tion has been 7–11 times lower insideILPAs than in surrounding areas. Simula-tion models suggest that ILPAs establishedbetween 2003 and 2007 could prevent272,000 km
of deforestation through2050, equal to 3.3
-1.1 GtC, more than1/3 of the world’s annual CO
e emissions(Figure 1) [15]. Bolivia’s Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, which expandedby 8,317 km
in 1997, is projected toprevent emission of up to 1.6 million tCover 30 years [25].Less obvious is that despite impressivesuccess in these and other cases, ILPAs donot reduce deforestation risk to zero.Protected sites in the Brazilian Amazonlost 9,700 km
of forest cover between2002 and 2007, representing 8% of  Amazon deforestation within this timeperiod [15]. Improving the protection of 
ILPAs can therefore reduce emis-sions even further.To be meaningful components of anational REDD strategy, ILPAs mustreduce GHG emissions below what wouldhave happened had they never beenestablished. Careful analysis of this coun-terfactual can reveal surprising and oftencontroversial results. For example, al-though Brazil’s Chico Mendes ExtractiveReserve continues to suffer deforestation,without the reserve an additional 7% of the area would have been lost in each of the last two decades [26]. By comparison,other nearby reserves (e.g., ChandlessState Park), farther from the pressuresassociated with the Interoceanic Highway,are hardly deforested but would be littledifferent without protection. So which isthe more effective contributor to REDD?Rigorous analyses point to Chico Mendes[26]. In general, carefully assessing impactand counterfactuals will allow nations tofocus REDD resources where meaningfulreductions are most likely and to designnational programs that, in effect, givecredit where credit is due.Guided by such analyses, nationalREDD programs may tend to focusinvestments on areas under high develop-ment pressure (e.g., along the BR-163Cuiaba´–Santare´m highway or within thesoutheastern Amazon’s agricultural fron-tier). On one hand, these areas are exactlywhere enhanced funds may be mostneeded, to bolster enforcement and coverhigher opportunity costs [9]. On the otherhand, this may shift resources away fromhighly biodiverse but remote regions [27].With human population and forest threatscontinuing to expand [28], even wilder-nesses face some non-zero future threat
Figure 1. Carbon stocks and potential emissions of selected ILPAs in the Brazilian Amazon.
Potential emissions are estimated bysimulating future deforestation through 2050, with and without ILPAs present. The difference (depicted by orange bars) represents the reductions of CO
emissions contributed by each ILPA. Figure and data modified from Soares and colleagues [15,16].doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000331.g001PLoS Biology | www.plosbiology.org 2 March 2010 | Volume 8 | Issue 3 | e1000331
(Figure 1). Further, the introduction of REDD payments focused on high-pressureareas could displace deforestation to remoteareas (i.e., cause ‘‘leakage’of emissions).These and other concerns have led negoti-ators to propose ‘‘REDD-plus,’in whichcredits would be awarded not only forreducing deforestation and degradation,but also for conserving forest carbon stocksand managing forests sustainably [6]. Thisproposal could reduce leakage by rewarding conservation of high-carbon, low-threatforests and could improve buy-in by com-pensating different REDD activities, loca-tions, and stakeholders.Eventually, funding from developednations could enable national and subna-tional governments to implement compre-hensive REDD programs with formaloverall targets [6]. Brazil, for example,has recently taken on such targets (e.g.,reducing Amazondeforestation80%; [29]),as have four Brazilian Amazon states.Success in these programs will hinge onmeeting their overall targets, allowing nations to invest in ILPAs without knowing the exact contributions of each one. Whilethis would reduce costs of carefully evalu-ating deforestation risk for each ILPA,rigorous analysis of impacts and counter-factuals would still help optimally directfunds within a national REDD program[9].How much would creating and betterprotecting existing ILPAs cost? Complet-ing and managing a network of protectedareas in developing countries would re-quire an estimated US
4 billion per year(up from
1 billion currently spentannually) [30]. This represents only 9– 13% of the capital that could be mobilizedby international REDD frameworks at aprice of US
e [31]. For theBrazilian Amazon, Nepstad et al. [9]estimate that REDD will cost US
e, including payments to forestpeoples programs, partial compensation of opportunity costs, enhanced law enforce-ment, and greater funding for ILPAs.These costs are far lower than thoseestimated for many other options toreduce emissions [32].ILPAs may be more cost effective thanother REDD strategies,inpartbecause theywould be more straightforward to imple-ment. First, the act of declaring an ILPAtypically clarifies land tenure and associatedcarbon rights (provided appropriate safe-guards have been met, particularly relatedto indigenous peoples). Second, ILPAs are‘‘ready to go.’’Protected areas departments,indigenous peoples agencies, and relatedinstitutions often already exist with budgetsand staff and infrastructure to receiveREDD payments, strengthen protection,and generate results quickly (e.g., Brazil’s ARPA program [15]). Third, directinREDD funds appropriately can be straight-forward. ILPAs are typically funded bygovernments, so payments can simply takethe form of increased funding. In contrast,distributing payments to thousands of private landowners in a fair and transparentway will be more difficult (but not impos-sible; see examples in Costa Rica [33] andelsewhere, and a proposal for the Brazilian Amazon [9]).Crucially, ILPAs offer multiple benefitsbeyond emissions reductions. They protectbiodiversity and indigenous land rights, asthey are designed to do. Furthermore, theycan purify water, provide food to localcommunities, regulate regional climate,and maintain culturally important ele-ments of the landscape [34].
Taking Action
So what can national governments do toinclude ILPAs effectively in their REDDstrategies? One obvious step is to identifywhere establishing or strengthening ILPAswould most effectively reduce emissions(Figure 1). The studies discussed hereshow that spatial data and techniquesexist to estimate effectiveness rigorously[15,16,18,25,26]. A second and urgentstep is to establish national monitorinschemes to measure deforestation ratesand quantify carbon emissions reductions.Brazil’s system of remotely sensed moni-toring and Noel Kempff’s network of on-the-ground monitoring plots are goodmodels [25,35]. A third step is to establishinsurance mechanisms, pooling the risthat illegal logging or fires reverse gains inindividual ILPAs.Finally, governments must provide in-digenous groups and local communitiesthe information and capacities they needto participate, and payments must bedistributed transparently to reward thoseresponsible for reducing emissions. InBrazil, indigenous lands currently contrib-ute far more to REDD than parks ornature reserves because they cover threetimes the area and are often in theimmediate path of the expanding agricul-tural frontier [17]. The science communitycan support nations in all of these effortsby illuminating several simple questionswith nuanced answers (see Box 1).ILPAs are only one part of nationalREDD programs, and REDD is only oneof many mechanisms to reduce land-basedemissions. Nevertheless, REDD is likely tobe the first such mechanism to takeinternational effect, and ILPAs clearly can
Box 1. What science is needed?
To include ILPAs effectively in REDD strategies, nations will need answers toseveral critical science questions, including:
How effective are ILPAs in reducing forest emissions? Rigorous estimates of emissions reduced by ILPAs are feasible [15,16,18,25,26], will increase credibilityof national REDD programs, and will help provide technical basis for in-countryallocation of funds.
Where should ILPA investments be targeted? Maps of carbon stocks,deforestation risk, and opportunity costs would allow nations to assess whereinvestments in ILPAs would reduce most emissions at least cost. Formaloptimization algorithms [36] could be used to prioritize action.
Do better funded ILPAs emit less carbon? REDD funds can strengthen existingILPAs and reduce deforestation inside their borders, but this relationship needsto be examined empirically. Are there diminishing returns to additional funds?Thresholds? Specific guidelines can help protected areas system managerstarget limited resources.
How does the governance of ILPAs—in particular recognition of indigenousland rights and local control—impact their effectiveness in reducing emissions?There is increasing evidence that local ownership over forest commonsimproves both carbon storage and local livelihoods (e.g., [37]). Ensuring goodgovernance may therefore improve the effectiveness of funds steered towardILPAs to reduce forest clearing and degradation.
What about the second ‘‘D’’, forest degradation? Asner et al. [38] estimate thatas much as 20% of forest emissions in the Brazilian Amazon are due to selectivelogging and associated forest degradation. But almost all research andmonitoring has focused on deforestation per se. How effective are ILPAs inreducing this under-studied component of REDD? How does that depend ontheir location, their funding levels, and the causes of degradation?
PLoS Biology | www.plosbiology.org 3 March 2010 | Volume 8 | Issue 3 | e1000331

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