Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is a fledgling program backed by the United Nations designed to save the world’s tropical forests.
One of the few proposals to achieve widespread support at the Copenhagen climate talks, REDD encourages developing nations to preserve their vulnerable forest land by linking conservation measures with carbon offsets which can then be traded on the global market.
REDD uses a complex accounting system to monitor the carbon offsets resulting from various forest projects and ensure standards around the world. This system recently passed the first of two formal audits required by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), a Washington-based group charged with ensuring the legitimacy and transparency of REDD projects by imposing strict standards.
“The methodology is expected to be broadly applicable where mosaic patterns of deforestation occur throughout Southeast Asia and Africa,” says Leslie Durschinger, founder and managing director of Terra Global Capital, a finance and advisory firm specializing in REDD projects. These “mosaic” projects include various plans to protect forests from logging, farmland conversion, fires and collection of fuel wood and thus reduce carbon emissions.
Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, which the U.N. says accounts for between 20-25% of total global emissions. Many developed nations have lent support to help develop REDD, most notably Norway, which has signed a $ billion forest conservation deal with Indonesia. REDD aims to become part of a broader global climate accord in 2013.