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Apr 2, 2019

Belize Gets Ready for REDD+

Forests still cover about thirty percent of the world’s land area, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate. And because deforestation causes almost twenty percent of global emissions, the preservation of trees is a big part of the answer to slow down climate change. One of the solutions to preserving forest is through an international mechanism called REDD+. The Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 sent outlined that that REDD+ is a critical part of achieving net-zero emissions in the second half of this century. The programme aims to cut emissions by providing financial incentives, as well as to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Belize is now preparing for REDD+. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

A 2018 report shows that Belize’s forest cover is fifty-nine percent. Deforestation is still happening across country, even within some protected areas. When these forests are cut, burned and converted to land, the carbon stored in the forest is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is a growing issue across the world where by 2014 the Wildlife Works Carbon reports that over three hundred thousand acres of forests were being cleared out every other day. This accounts for 16-20 percent of global emissions. Deforestation affects the climate, weather patterns, wildlife and ecosystems. While Belize’s deforestation rate is only of 0.6 % per year for the last couple decades it has been documented that in areas where there are increased developments, the deforestation is about four times higher. So, as the world seeks to slow the pace of climate change, Belize prepares for the REDD+. It is a United Nations initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with an aim to bring benefits to surrounding communities.


Eduardo Reyes, REDD+ Coordinator, Ministry of Environment & Forestry

“The REDD+ is like a strategy that the country can put together. From my perspective, it is an economic strategy that deals with the forest so that we can see how we can manage the forests in a more wise way in order to get some benefits. More benefits could be from an economic perspective and additional benefits that the biodiversity gives us to the country. So, Belize is a vulnerable country to climate change effects as you have been impacted by hurricanes in the past and you’d be impacted in the future. So, if we have our forests standing, it would help us to be less vulnerable.”


So, how does REDD+ work? By not cutting down their forests, developing countries like Belize will reduce its own emissions. Under REDD+, countries that continue to preserve large areas of forests intact, plant new trees and forests use their forests sustainably can also get paid or investments from industrialized countries. So, how does it work in practice? Forest areas with good potential are identified, mapped and quantified and communities decide if they are interested in developing a REDD+ project. A carbon baseline is then generated and sold on the market. Now, Belize is preparing to see if it meets the requirements for REDD+.


Eduardo Reyes

Eduardo Reyes

“Right now I could say that, because I have been doing this in many other countries, that Belize is in a very unique position. International gurus of forests are actually looking and inspecting what we are doing in Belize.”


But for this to work, all stakeholders, including farmers, government, scientific communities, N.G.O.s, international partners and other agencies must work together. One of the areas of contention across the world is that REDD+ infringes on the rights of indigenous communities who live in and around forests. So, to educate and engage with partners about REDD+, the grievance and redress mechanism will be made accessible through surveys and other tools.


Madhawi Ramdin

Madhawi Ramdin, Consultant (Grievance & Redress) of REDD+

“This grievance and redress mechanism will be the mechanism for the project to engage with local communities. If there are queries, the major groups can ask these questions that they have. Also, if there are complaints that these complaints are handled properly assessed and investigated. We try to get a solution that is beneficial to both parties. It will act as an early warning system because if you let these problems linger it may just become very costly to solve it in the future and that is why you need the early warning system to make sure that all the parties are treated well within the REDD+ process.”


Belize will also need to have the legislation needed in place for the implementation of REDD+ Consultant Leonardo Massai is spending five months to analyze local regulations and make recommendations.


Leonardo Massai

Leonardo Massai, Legal Consultant REDD+

“The drivers of deforestation are different. So, we are talking about the legislation in the sector of land tenure; legislation in spatial planning; legislation in forest sector; legislation in the area of biodiversity. And without forgetting framework legislation which is present in the country such as environmental strategic policy, environmental impact assessment but also low carbon development strategy which is already in Belize. All those are legislation which are needed and are already in place which is a very good thing. So, our task is to check whether secondary legislation is in line with those and with REDD+ implementation.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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