I’m sorry. Truly, I’m sorry. But I cannot help being caught outside the Loops. They all seem, dare I say it, loopy. It’s always “us and them” and I’m caught being outside of both. Countless thousands of humans from all corners of the Globe collaborate to create a system who’s operation has but flimsy relationship to reality or who’s strictures throw up so much smoke as no-one can see what’s going on.
Now, for clarity, I’ll get to the point. My point. It is that REDD, with or without its +, is more neo-colonialism. We have a fundamentally good idea and, in all the tugging and debating and gathering at this congress or that symposium, it is lost in so much impenetrable red (sorry) tape and to the desires and agendae of powerful, hidden vested interests. [By “hidden” I mean assumed, unannounced, integral groupings.]
That’s how a certain South American country recently started to blackmail the World with respect to its as yet untapped oil resource and forests. I suggest that we all grow up and accept that “We’re all in this together” and stop trying to foist all the efforts for planetary repair onto the “Developing World”.
Oh dear, I can already feel the PC backs up. “What’s he saying – we should not help these less affluent countries to withstand pressures that are rapidly damaging our collective environment?” So I’ll just categorically state my persuasion is the opposite – yes, we must seek to:
- Reduce pressure that’s still driving deforestation.
- Assist local communities to build up resilient and sustainable patterns of land usage which increase all carbon sinks, in particular forest expansion, whilst curtailing deforestation, swamp/high soil carbon disturbance and other new sources of carbon release.
- Find mechanisms to reward such actions.
So where am I different? Simply that I see no benefit in concentrating on only “developing countries”. There would be a more comprehensive, inclusive and functional outcome achieved by expanding our vision and aiming to restore the rural environment on a far wider scale.
The MacDonaldised, supermarket civilisation we’ve created , with the well nigh exponential increase in the demand for meat that has been driven by these changes has had global impact on land use. From Brazilian tropical rainforest to the former temperate rainforest of West Wales agriculture is relentlessly propelled by these forces.
Now we realise that the damage is felt on a worldwide basis, there is huge moral reason to bring about the repairs in an equally widespread manner. Yes, a forest in the tropics can grow faster than a temperate one and probably hold more carbon in each hectare but, by the same token, that land is more productive and more efficient use may be made of it in food production, for example. Marginal, temperate land who’s agriculture is often highly subsidised, seems a fundamentally sound candidate to return to maximal carbon store status, chiefly as standing forest – harvested as appropriate to maintain its carbon fixing capacity.
Knowing and seeing this, it is far easier for the practice to be accepted as a global necessity and not as a short term financial fix. The intensivised, financially driven mechanisms being constructed seem to me to be bound to fail. There has to be a very strong element of collective responsibility built into a globally integrated environmental restoration project. There are some things that money cannot buy and perhaps our survival is one of those! It certainly should be.