Local variables, inadequate technology, low capacity and lack of consensus on a single definition of degradation are resulting into inconsistent data on forest degradation, say leading land and forest experts. The experts, who were at the 6th Forest day observed at the ongoing 18th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18), shared this information during the release of a global assessment report on REDD+
The report launched is titled ‘Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives”
Answering to a question on the reason of the data inconsistency in particular, the experts commented that definition of degraded forest continued to be a hotly debated issue, thus making it difficult for scientists and researchers to access consistent data for assessing the volume, seriousness and the loss resulted out of degraded forests.
This, to me however, sounds quite alarming, considering the fact that 40% of world’s total forests are in dryland where 2.5 billion live. It means, whether it is mitigation or adaptation, we are actually talking about policies, strategies and actions that will effect and impact over a quarter of world’s total population. And considering policies must be based on the accurate inputs from the scientific communities, lack of consistent data can very well mean lack of action at the political level.
However, at the moment, there seem to be no quick fix solution to overcome this problem. The biggest reason is that countries do not agree on a single definition on degraded forest. Also, some countries still lack the technology needed to map the degraded forests, which again make it difficult for the scientists to access data that are bankable and unquestionable.
I asked Valarie Kapos of United Nations Development Program and John A Parrotta of International Union of Forest Research Organizations who were two of the panelists, how these problems could be solved. Kapos had no straight answer, except that there was a need to provide the poor countries adequate technology and build their capacity to produce data. The other need was to raise enough awareness among the policy makers to agree to a common definition of degraded forests.
Is this really going to happen? We will just have to wait and see.
Stella Paul is blogging from COP18