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New research provides insights into potential ecological costs and cobenefits of REDD
Date:11/16/2009

the incidence of forest fire. Potential ecological costs include the accelerated loss (through displaced agricultural expansion) of low-biomass, high-conservation-value ecosystems, and substitution of low-biomass vegetation by monoculture tree plantations. These costs could be avoided through measures that protect low-biomass native ecosystems. Substantial ecological co-benefits should be conferred under most circumstances, and include the maintenance or restoration of (1) watershed functions, (2) local and regional climate regimes, (3) water quality and aquatic habitat, (4) terrestrial habitat, and (5) soils and biogeochemical processes.

Daniel Nepstad, also of WHRC and IPAM and second author, adds, "We need a balanced approach to REDD as we get into the details of how this mechanism will work. Images of rainforests being razed for Eucalyptus plantations in the name of carbon are simply not helpful."

The general themes of the paper were illustrated for a case study of the upper Xingu Basin in the southeastern Brazilian Amazon, a region larger than 90% of the tropical nations that could seek participation in REDD within the UNFCCC and responsible for between 5 and 13% of carbon emissions from the Brazilian Amazon over the past decade.

Analysis of possible REDD program interventions in a large-scale Amazon landscape indicates that even modest flows of forest carbon funding can provide substantial co-benefits for aquatic ecosystems, but that the functional integrity of the landscape's myriad small watersheds would be best protected under a more even spatial distribution of forests. For the Xingu River headwaters region (~178,000 km2) in the southeastern Amazon, a possible REDD program based on a state zoning plan (Zoning) that takes into account agricultural suitability, environmental vulnerability, and conservation value would lead to avoided emissions of over 300 million tCO2e over a 10-year period relative to a business-as-usual (BAU)
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Contact: Elizabeth Braun
ebraun@whrc.org
508-540-9900
Woods Hole Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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