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Forest carbon and local livelihoods: assessment of opportunities and policy recommendations

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J. Smith
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In preparation for the eighth session of the conference of the parties (COP8) to the Climate Change Convention, this report argues that businesses looking to buy carbon credits should do so by funding forests planted and managed by local people.
It is argued that forest planting can mitigate global warming and that carbon producing business can mitigate their impact on the global climate by buying credits from those who plant and manage forests which soak up some of that carbon.
The argument against the carbon credit system is that forests paid for under Kyoto's carbon trading rules have been ineffective: mismanaged, destroyed or planted as single species zones for the benefit of big forestry companies rather than for their carbon sequestration value. The authors of this report argue that these problems can be overcome where forests are planted, managed and carbon credits are sold by local communities. They claim that this model would be sustainable for forests, the climate and financially for the communities involved.
However, in order to achieve community based carbon trading, according to the authors,it will be necessary to make changes to the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism rules. The report seeks action in the following four main areas:

Make all types of forestry and agroforestry projects with significant benefits for local communities eligible for the Mechanism
address issues such as land tenure and social impacts on communities as a requirement of all projects
make all community-based forestry projects eligible for the low-cost "fast-track" approval process to reduce their costs
reduce risks for investors by, for example, creating portfolio's of projects from which they can buy credits