The implications of the REDD+ package for roadfree forests

December 18 2013

The rules governing UN REDD+ programme were agreed at last month’s UN climate talks in Warsaw. We have identified several opportunities for the future of roadfree forests in the agreed REDD+ package.

The Warsaw COP19 has proven to be a landmark for the REDD+ mechanism. Who would have predicted that in 2013 agreements on the most controversial issues of Monitoring Reporting and Verifying (MRV), safeguards, reference levels, finance, national monitoring, coordination, and drivers of deforestation would had been concluded.

With regards to The RoadFree Initiative that was launched during this COP, here are few points from the REED+ package that bring some positive elements to the future of roadfree forests:

- REDD+ activities should respect the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities. This is a reminder to the countries recipient of REDD+ funding, that international obligations to protect indigenous peoples must be respected. This includes the fundamental indigenous land rights and also the right for tribes, such as the Mascho-Piro in Peru and some 100 other around the world, to remain living in voluntary isolation if they choose so.

- REDD+ activities should be consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity: The very concept of "natural forests", that will need to be clarified at national level, is an interesting one for the future of roadfree areas. We know roads are responsible for fragmenting intact forests and natural habitats - fragmentation that quickly leads to biodiversity loss. The RoadFree Initiative advocates that REDD+ funding should as a priority, be directed towards the protection of roadfree areas. On this point, we are glad to say that a proposition by The RoadFree Initiative was backed by the European Parliament, and that in 2014, a pilot project will be implemented for further research on the benefits of protecting roadfree forests. With the production of up-to-date global maps of roadfree areas, and the creation of a prediction model of deforestation and forest degradation, based on the existence of roads in a forest, the research program is expected to lead to a set of innovative recommendations for better forest governance.

- REDD+ monitoring systems should enable the assessment of different types of forests including natural ones: As roads are a clear indicator of forest degradation, up to date maps of roadfree areas can contribute to a better MRV of REDD+ activities.

While the wording from the REDD+ package is far from perfect and additional commitments are still needed from both the funders and the benefiting countries, REDD+ has become much more concrete, tangible and operational after COP19. The focus has moved now from negotiations to the implementation phase for which the protection of roadfree areas could become a catalyst for the REDD+ success.