World Rainforest Movement

Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation says tree plantations are not forests

The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation -a large world professional society on tropical forests- has recently made public a resolution “urging the United Nations to alter its potentially misleading forest definitions”. The resolution states:

“WHEREAS, the current definition of ‘forest’ used by the United Nations fails to distinguish between natural forests, modified natural forests, and tree plantations; and

WHEREAS, tree plantations are often comprised by monocultures of non-native species that have very limited value for conserving imperiled biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, in many tropical countries, complex, biodiverse forests that were designated as permanent forest reserves are being felled and replaced by plantations; and

WHEREAS, this serious loophole means that such changes would be regarded as having caused no change in the ‘forest, thereby allowing forest loss and degradation to occur without sanctions; and

WHEREAS, the conversion of carbon-rich natural forests or peatlands to wood, pulp, or oil palm plantations can lead to major net emissions of dangerous greenhouse gases; and

WHEREAS, the above distinctions are crucial for ongoing negotiations to conserve natural forests to reduce emissions from forest loss and degradation (REDD) as part of ongoing climate negotiations;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study, protection, and sustainable use of tropical ecosystems:

URGES the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the United Nations to immediately clarify natural forest definitions on a biome basis (such as ‘cool-temperate’, ‘wet tropical, and ‘peat-swamp forest’) to reflect the wideranging differences in carbon and biodiversity values of these different biomes, while clearly distinguishing between native forests and those dominated by tree monocultures and non-native species; and

STRONGLY RECOMMENDS that developing and developed nations immediately implement these new forest definitions to ensure that they are incorporated in ongoing and future REDD negotiations.”