Monday, May 9, 2011
Monks Fight to Get Cambodian Forests on the Carbon Market
For years, the guardians of Sorng Rukavorn forest have drifted through the muted greens and grays of the underbrush in their saffron robes. In the far north of Cambodia, the monks live in what should be peaceful isolation, but all too often they have had to fend off incursions on this land. Using their authority as holy figures, they've turned away illegal loggers - among them, they say, armed police and soldiers - as well as local officials who have tried to wrestle control of the public land to parcel it out for their own profit.
Now the monks are looking for backup. They plan to institutionalize their communal ownership of the forest and shared profit from its 44,479-acre bounty by demarcating it an international ecological asset. Sorng Rukavorn is one of 13 community forests spreading over 168,032 acres in Oddar Meanchey province that is being registered as a bank of carbon credits. Under this nascent international tool of climate change mitigation referred to as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), governments and companies in industrialized nations can pay developing countries to cut carbon emissions on their behalf by not cutting trees. Deforestation accounts for roughly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, according to the UN. Trees and plants absorb the gas - produced by a number of natural and manmade processes, from the combustion of fossil fuels by factories, cars and volcanic eruptions, to the flatulence of livestock - and are therefore essential to balancing its levels in the atmosphere.
Full article here
Painting by Ivan Shishkin