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At the climate change summit
in Copenhagen, December 16th, 2009, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
announced the United States, joined by Australia, France, Japan, Norway, and
the United Kingdom, agreed to dedicate a total of 3.5 billion dollars as initial
public finance towards slowing, halting and eventually, reversing deforestation
in developing countries. This funding will help facilitate capacity building
efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in
Developing Countries, or REDD-plus, for the years 2010-2012.
"Protecting the world's forests is not a luxury - it is a necessity,"
said Secretary Vilsack. "This substantial commitment," he said,
"is reflective of our recognition that international public finance must
play a role in developing countries' efforts to slow, halt and reverse
The U.S. contribution to this effort will be one billion dollars over the next
three years. These funds will be available for countries that develop ambitious
REDD-plus plans for their forest sector, according to their respective
Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere is one of the
greatest challenges facing our world, and reducing emissions from land use
practices plays an important role in meeting this challenge. The world loses
more than thirteen million hectares of tropical forest annually, and this
deforestation is responsible for producing approximately seventeen percent of
greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the loss of tropical rainforests is
devastating to the protection and storage of water, the health of biodiversity,
and the livelihood of rural populations.
The United States is already working with international partners to protect
forests across the globe. The State Department, the United States Agency for
International Development and the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service
will work with developing countries around the world to implement and expand
REDD-plus programs. This will include helping countries build robust forest
monitoring systems, improve greenhouse gas inventories [the estimation of
carbon dioxide emissions and removals], and develop action plans to tackle the
drivers of deforestation.
While international efforts are important, developing countries must also recognize
their responsibility to protect their forests. As Secretary Vilsack noted,
"It is imperative that we sustain our forests everywhere so that they, in
turn, can sustain us."