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Executive summary

The paper provides background on definitional issues related to reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (RED-DC). It reflects the FAO presentation on “Definitional issues, including those relating to links between deforestation and degradation” given during a UNFCCC-organised workshop on RED-DC, held from 30 August to 1 September 2006.

The ad hoc use of the forest-related terms in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and other processes has, in some instances, complicated negotiations, implementation, monitoring and reporting. This paper analyses existing definitions for forest, deforestation and forest degradation and other forest-related terms and the issues related to their use in the context of the Convention and the Protocol. It discusses the definitions with regard to key criteria for their use in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol processes, i.e. they should be unambiguous, allow for assessment of carbon stock changes and greenhouse gas emission and removals, include measurable parameters and be compatible with definitions used in other international forest-related processes.

The paper concludes that, in order to facilitate efficient negotiations and implementation, as well as streamlined future reporting, Parties to UNFCCC might consider, ex ante, a comprehensive set of definitions for the negotiations on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries. Widely used and accepted definitions should be applied wherever possible in their correct meaning. There is an opportunity to select from already established definitions from multilateral agreements, parallel processes, or international bodies, in particular IPCC or FAO. New terms should be clearly defined at an early stage and their use standardized. Consistent terminology will be crucial for efficient negotiations, implementation and future monitoring and reporting.

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