This paper summarises the importance of wetlands in relation to climate change and eaxmines their potential role in the measures for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) under the Kyoto Protocol. The links between REDD concepts and wetlands are explored for the following reasons:
so that REDD proposals do not perpetuate a negative perception that forest are only important because of the carbon that they contain
to highlight some comprehensive frameworks of international and national nature conservation and forestry legislation that could provide an entry point for REDD proposals
to emphasise the need for REDD funds not to be focused solely on reducing emissions, but also to contribute to related initiatives such as the improvement of forest governance and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The author advances the arguments below for expanding the definition of REDD concepts to include wetland ecosystems.
Some forests are also wetlands and such a form of synergy can exist between REDD and the Conventions on wetlands (Ramsar) and biodiversity (CBD).
Given the high capacity of peatlands to store carbon compared to other soil types, there may be greater carbon benefit per dollar to give priority to forested wetlands in implementing schemes for REDD.
Forest areas involved in REDD should be more viable in areas where there is better wetland conservation and river basin management.
There has been substantial advocacy in recent years for considering the role of ecosystems other than forests in contributing to “avoided destruction and degradation” methods of reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Peatlands and other wetlands have been acknowledged as obvious contender for integration into a post-2012 framework.
Degradation and disturbance of naturally-functioning wetlands can be (and already is) a major cause of increased carbon emissions.
Overall, the long-term positive effect of CO2 sequestration is greater than negative effect of methane emissions from wetlands.
The paper concludes that there is great scope for synergy and mutual reinforcement of REDD proposals and other international conventions such as the Ramsar Convention and the CBD. One angle would be to conceptualise some “wetland-REDD” mechanism that produces associated benefits for conservation of biodiversity.