The UK sets out new efforts to tackle global deforestation

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Energy and Climate Secretary Edward Davey today outlined new innovative plans to tackle deforestation.

Energy and Climate Secretary Edward Davey today outlined new innovative plans to tackle deforestation as part of the UK’s international climate change commitments.

The government has set out plans for working with the private sector and rainforest countries so that the timber and foodstuffs we buy do not cause deforestation. The new plan addresses the economic and commercial drivers of deforestation by working with the private sector for more sustainable supply chains for these products and foodstuffs. 

Under the International Climate Fund, up to £300 million is available for these activities. UK programmes under the International Climate Fund are expected to support sustainable growth in forest countries, and boost the incomes of thousands of poor people who depend on the forests for their livelihoods. The government is committed to ensuring all spend achieves value for money and so will be testing the appropriate allocation further in the design process. Through these programmes, the UK is playing its part to help  save tens of millions of hectares from being deforested, and help to conserve biodiversity.

Edward Davey made the announcement during a forestry summit at Clarence House, co-hosted by the Prince of Wales. He said: 

The urgency of tackling climate change is clear and limiting global warming to 2°C limit will be extremely challenging - if not impossible - without a significant reduction in deforestation before 2020.  This is why this Government is taking action now to tackle deforestation, address climate change, and support greener growth and sustainable development.

We want to accelerate our international commitments to reduce deforestation.  That’s why we are keen to work with forest nations that are strongly committed to tackling this issue. We will also work with other donor countries, including Norway, US and Germany and Australia to tackle deforestation at the forthcoming UN climate change negotiations in Doha and beyond.

During the event, the Secretary of State also announced a new £15 million programme under the International Climate Fund to develop climate change mitigation plans and poverty alleviation in Colombia. This involves supporting smallholder farmers to plant trees on cattle grazing land, to increase biodiversity, improve the livelihood of farmers, reduce carbon emissions, and protect local forests.

Tackling deforestation is a central part of how to address climate change, while reducing poverty and protecting biodiversity. Up to 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, and around 13 million hectares of forest are lost every year. An estimated 1.2bn poor people depend on forests for their livelihoods, and forests hold up to 80% of global terrestrial species.

Notes for editors

  1. Today’s event is hosted by The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU) at Clarence House. HRH The Prince of Wales established the ISU to help build consensus on how to resolve some of the key environmental challenges facing the world - these include food security, ecosystem resilience and the depletion of natural capital.  The ISU works with governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations with the aim of building partnerships to help address these challenges.  
  2. In addition to the UK’s forestry announcements, other countries (including Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia and Gabon) gave updates at the event on their progress on tackling deforestation.
  3. The action that the UK is taking on forestry is a priority for the UK’s £2.9bn International Climate Fund (ICF). The ICF has been set up to help developing countries tackle climate change, reduce poverty and tackle deforestation. 
  4. The ICF aims for a balanced allocation between adaptation, low carbon development and forestry. To date, the ICF has allocated over £280m to programmes which address deforestation. These programmes include tackling illegal logging, sharing knowledge on best practice to reduce deforestation, and supporting community forestry in Nepal. ICF Forestry programmes work in a broad range of countries, including Indonesia, Liberia and Ghana. More information on the ICF can be found on the DECC website. 
  5. In line with our aim of allocating 20% of the ICF to forestry, up to £300m is available for programming.  We are committed to ensuring all our spend achieves value for money and so will be testing the appropriate allocation for individual programmes further in the design process.
  6. Slowing deforestation is the primary objective of UN climate change negotiations focussed on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), which is currently ongoing under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  
  7. The UK, together with Norway, US and Germany and Australia has committed to work together to accelerate progress on REDD+, to scale up the benefits that can be achieved in the short to medium term, with benefits for rainforest countries and the global community.  A joint statement outlining a collaborative approach to achieve REDD+ can be found on the DECC website.
  8. An outline of the UK’s new efforts to tackle deforestation can be found on the DECC website.
  9. This goes with the grain of what progressive private sector companies are doing, and many companies have made commitments to reduce the impact of their operations on forests. The UK will develop ways of working with these companies to realise ambitious goals to reduce deforestation and support sustainable growth. 
  10. A joint UK-Colombia statement can be found on the DECC website. The silvopastoral systems programme is worth £15m, and we are working together with the Colombian Government, the World Bank, and NGOs to implement to project.
  11. The UK Government is also acting on its own supply chain, and recently announced plans to sustainably source all palm oil from 2015. This announcement can be found on the DEFRA website.