Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the UN-REDD initiative has been working with local communities and governments around the world to prevent one of the most dangerous contributors to climate change: deforestation

18 million acres of forest are lost each year – that’s an area the size of Ireland

A question: after the energy sector, what is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions? Heavy industry perhaps? Manufacturing and construction? No, the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is deforestation and forest degradation. Between them they account for 11% of emissions, which is more than the entire global transport sector 1.

Such a figure is staggering when you consider the column inches and government legislation devoted to the decrease in energy use and burning of fossil fuels when one of the largest drivers for climate change is the destruction of forests across the globe. Less forests mean less absorption of carbon, leading to an abundance of carbon dioxide, a rise in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and rising ocean levels.

The facts are shameful. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest are lost each year – that’s an area the size of Ireland. Alongside the effect on the world’s atmosphere, up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct by the next quarter of the century due to deforestation2.

The UN-REDD role

Faced with such alarming figures, the UN-REDD initiative was created in 2008, bringing together a number of UN environmental programmes to “reduce forest emissions and enhance carbon stocks in forests while contributing to national sustainable development.”

To give it its full name, the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries now has a presence in 64 countries, working with local communities to prevent deforestation to safeguard not just their future but the future of the planet. As well as carbon storage, forests provide efficient water regulation, soil protection, climate regulation and biodiversity, and it’s estimated that over 1.6bn people depend on them around the world.


Vital work

It’s estimated that halting and reversing deforestation could deliver up to 30% of the climate solution, making forests one of the most cost-effective and immediate solutions to curb climate change3, and during the past ten years, UN-REDD has achieved a huge amount. They have worked with over 30 countries to advance their strategies and action plans on halting deforestation, and helped 40 countries to develop national forest monitoring systems.

In Vietnam, UN-REDD has been working with the government to encourage local communities to use the forests more, creating businesses selling traditional medicine harvested from the forests, while the organisation has also helped train local fire fighters in Indonesia to prevent the devastating forest fires that destroyed over 2.6m hectares of forest and peat land in 2015.

The Carbon Balanced Paper connection

UN-REDD knows that one of the key ways to prevent climate change is to preserve the threatened forests around the world – something the Carbon Balanced Paper scheme also understands. Carbon Balanced Paper is a simple way for companies to reduce the carbon impacts of their marketing communications and preserve high value conservation land, rich in biodiversity. It protects 42 threatened species listed on the IUCN Red List, nine of which are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered and 10 critically endangered.

The initiative works in partnership with World Land Trust, an environmental charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant habitats by funding the creation of reserves to provide permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. By choosing to use Carbon Balanced Paper sourced from partner paper merchants and certified printers, brands and organisations can both reduce the carbon emissions of their printed communications and help safeguard threatened forests around the world. Sir David Attenborough, patron of World Land Trust says, “The money that is given to World Land Trust has, in my opinion, more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.”


REDD+, 2016
UN-REDD, 2018

Article written by Sam Upton
Featured image credit: AdobeStock
Map image credit: 
Ajaxfiore, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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