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Alain Karsenty, Cécile Blanco, Thomas Dufour
CIRAD-Forêt, Paris, France
September 2002
English version
Forest Products Division, FAO, Rome
March 2003


Forests play major roles in climate change. They contribute carbon emissions when destroyed or degraded and they suffer from changing climate, drought and extreme weather. Managed sustainably, they can provide a unique environmental service by removing excess carbon from the atmosphere, storing it in biomass, soils and products. In addition, sustainably produced wood fuels offer an environmentally benign alternative to fossil fuels.

During the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, in 2001, governments agreed on the final framework for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, which obligates industrialized countries to reduce their net greenhouse gas contribution by country-specific, fixed amounts.

Developing nations have no specific reduction targets, but seek to minimize their greenhouse gases emissions on the path of sustainable development. The Clean Development Mechanism is meant to facilitate achieving this goal. It can also help to finance certain development-related activities involving forest carbon sinks. Moreover, those forestry measures which are not eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism may receive financial support through other climate change-related sources also described in this working paper.

Given the important role of forests in global change, forestry professionals in general may have been underrepresented in negotiations. Africa, though contributing relatively little to Climate Change, could be one of its major victims; yet its voice seemed underrepresented on the negotiating floor. With this publication, FAO seeks to inform African sink experts and the African forestry sector about climate change, the agreements reached, the current state of the Clean Development Mechanism, other opportunities for forest conservation, adaptation and mitigation, and about prerequisites for implementation.

Producing an acceptable translation in an emerging, highly technical field can be a time-consuming and expensive task. As there was neither time nor money to carry this to perfection, readers will undoubtedly discover flaws. However, we believe that the deep knowledge about forestry and development of African countries, about funding possibilities outside of the CDM proper, and about the larger context for the CDM in Africa, which the authors provide, may compensate for editorial shortcomings of this translation of the French original. FAO Working Papers are preliminary documents, meant as focused technical contributions to emerging issues.

The negotiations on forestry in the Clean Development Mechanism are currently far from completed and continue to evolve rapidly. Therefore, this working paper also "shoots at a moving target." Nevertheless, FAO believes that technical detail and a holistic perspective of climate change-related forestry measures in Africa may support negotiations towards and implementation of a regime which is important for forests in Africa, their conservation, adaptation and sustainable management.

Wulf Killmann
Forest Products Division
FAO, Rome

This report was commissioned by Olman Serrano and supervised and edited by Suzuko Tanaka and Dieter Schoene of the Forestry Products Division, FAO, Rome. It was written in French under contract with CIRAD-Forêt. The authors, Alain Karsenty, socioeconomist and researcher, Cecile Blanco, agroeconomist, and Thomas Dufour, biologist, wish to thank Cheryl Andre de la Porte, Bruno Locatelli, and Cyril Loisel for relevant special information.

This translation of the original document was edited by Suzuko Tanaka and Dieter Schoene.

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