Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing ClimateChange
Taylor H. Ricketts
, Britaldo Soares-Filho
, Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca
, Daniel Nepstad
, Annie Petsonk
, Anthony Anderson
, Doug Boucher
, Andrea Cattaneo
, Marc Conte
, 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 . 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 . 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) . 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 .These facts suggest an attractive butoverlooked opportunity to reduce GHGemissions: creating new ILPAs and streng-thening existing ones . 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 developing countries. 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 , 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. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
PLoS Biology | www.plosbiology.org 1 March 2010 | Volume 8 | Issue 3 | e1000331