There are numerous efforts underway to protect the planets remaining primary forests, unfortunately most seem to be failing miserably. One idea in particular has been interesting governments and conservationists around the Globe, REDD or REDD+ as it’s now touted. Having researched and produced films on REDD and seen the destruction taking place on the ground here in Cambodia I can only conclude that REDD is in fact having the opposite effect and is encouraging deforestation.
REDD began as an idea to protect our remaining primary forests by paying governments to protect biodiversity rich areas rather than developing them for business or agriculture. This was watered down dramatically and eventually became REDD+, which rewards governments for restoring forests rather than protecting them. This means that the more degraded forest you have, the more opportunity there is to earn money by “restoring” it. There is nothing in REDD+ that encourages real protection of biodiversity rich primary forests.
From the destruction taking place throughout Cambodia’s supposedly protected areas, where species of value are being “cherry picked” and huge areas have been clear cut for economic land concessions, it would appear that there may be an active effort to degrade the forests, which of course could later earn money through REDD.
It is impossible to calculate the true value of biodiversity to future human development, however it is certain that destroying our forests means potential medicines and other valuable scientific discoveries are being lost. This is every bit as important as the much-discussed global water or energy issues, yet nothing serious is being done to protect our future.
REDD in its current form fails to address the issue of protecting biodiversity. We urgently need international consensus and action NOW. We need a concerted effort by conservation groups and environmentalists and indeed the public, to push governments to introduce international laws and, more importantly, enforce them.
We are losing species on a daily basis, many of which have not even been described by science let alone researched. Whether you believe in global warming or not is irrelevant, we must stop clearing our remaining primary forests before it is too late.