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Action Alert: Protest Failed World Bank Congo Rainforest Policy and Proposed Ill-Conceived Forest Carbon Payments

Given revelations of misconduct in Democratic Republic of Congo's rainforests by the World Bank, their desire to administer global carbon payments for rainforest protection as a means to address climate change is suspect

By, a project of EcoInternet - October 15, 2007

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Additional Background

The World Bank's independent inspection panel has found serious violations of its own rules as foreign companies were encouraged to destructively log the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) rainforests, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies. The Bank has since 2002 sought to "create a favorable climate for industrial logging" in the Congo by rushing through new forestry laws and dividing the country's massive rainforests into logging zones.

This is the World Bank's most recent failure to promote "sustainable" ancient rainforest logging, and comes as they position themselves to administer international carbon market funds meant to protect ancient rainforests for their climate benefits. The Bank's recently proposed $300 billion Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) will be part of U.N. climate change negotiations in Bali in December to shape a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The concept of "avoided deforestation" -- whereby countries are paid to protect forests -- has the potential to maintain standing rainforests in an intact, fully functioning condition; while meeting reasonable local development needs. Deforestation contributes 20 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world's cars. For the first time a grouping of tropical rainforest rich countries, called the "Forestry Eight" and controlling over 80 percent of the world's tropical rainforests, agree and are proposing a plan to be paid to protect their rainforests and thus reduce global warming.

Many crucial details regarding how avoided deforestation payments would work remain undefined. The concept has been described as both strict preservation (protection with no logging), and conservation payments for "sustainable forest management". This is misleading. First time logging of primary rainforests -- selective, certified, ecosystem based or otherwise -- results in an immediate huge release of carbon and a permanent disruption of future carbon storage.

To be maximally effective, avoided deforestation climate payments should only support strict preservation of ancient forests; and not their "sustainable" selective logging, certified or otherwise. Small scale, community based eco-forestry activities may well be compatible with maintaining carbon storage, ecosystem processes, and biodiversity patterns; yet any industrial development activities must be excluded.

Throughout the globe, the World Bank has been laying the policy basis for, and subsidizing, the industrial destruction of rainforests. To date, the Bank seems more interested in ensuring Western access to ancient rainforest timbers than maintaining ancient rainforests in an intact condition. On what basis can it now claim to be an honest broker to manage carbon finance to maintain standing rainforests?

A delegation of pygmies is to meet the new head of the World Bank in Washington this week, and specifics of the proposed carbon/rainforest protection program are being formulated now. Let the World Bank know that they must completely rethink their forest policy in the DRC and the world. Industrial ancient forest logging must be rejected and replaced with an emphasis upon community development based upon standing, intact rainforests. This requires abandoning subsidizing of DRC's industrial forestry, fully protecting Pygmy rights and ensuring carbon payments are made only for strict rainforest preservation.

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Congo river and rainforest
Congo's and the world's rainforests must remain intact to maintain climate and meet forest dwellers' needs into the future  (link)

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