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Time to tap climate-change-combating potential of the world's ecosystems

'green carbon'.

Investing in ecosystem-based measures such as financing Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) could thus not only assist in combating climate change but could also be a key anti-poverty and adaptation measure.

Forests also provide services such as freshwaters, soil stabilization, nutrients for agriculture, eco-tourism opportunities and food, fuel and fibre all of which will be key to buffering vulnerable communities against the climate change already underway.

TEEB is urging governments to factor these wider benefits into a forest carbon finance package in order to maximize the return of an agreement in Copenhagen into the future. This might pave the way for a new, Green Economy in the 21st century where natural or nature-based assets become part of mainstream economic and policy planning.

The TEEB climate issues update says that governments can already take steps to include ecosystem services in their national accounts in order to "measure what they manage". In support of this, it suggests that an upgrading of the United Nations' 2003 handbook on Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting be carried out to include forest carbon.

While the precise level of investment needed to maintain and enhance carbon storage and adaptation services of ecosystems in a climate-challenged world is unknown, TEEB findings indicate that investing in the Earth's ecological infrastructure has the potential to offer an excellent rate of return.

For example an investment of $45 billion in protected areas alone could secure nature-based services worth some $5 trillion a year.

Coral Reef Emergency: An Ecosystem on a Climatic Knife-Edge

Meanwhile the update highlights some of the consequences if governments fail to rise to the climate change challenge and seal an ambitious deal in Copenhagen.

It underlines a 'Coral Reef Emergency' that is already here a

Contact: Tilo Arnhold
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

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