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Could IFM REDD+ projects incentivize forest concessionaires to reduce greenhouse gases emissions in Central Africa? A lesson from the FORAFAMA project. [P-3331-01]

Claeys F., Rossi V., Bastin D., Eba'a Atyi R., Gourlet-Fleury S., Lescuyer G., Picard N., Sonwa D.J.. 2015. In : Our Common Future under Climate Change. International scientific conference Abstract Book 7-10 July 2015. Paris, France. Paris : CFCC15, p. 626-626. Our Common Future under Climate Change, 2015-07-07/2015-07-10, Paris (France).

Improved Forest Management (IFM) is an activity eligible to the mechanism of Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+). In this context, IFM refers to activities that increase carbon stock on managed forest lands by changing forest management practices. As nearly 20 millions of hectares are now managed in the Congo Basin forests, it is a strategy of prime importance in climate policies of Central African states. However, the carbon benefit is generally based on a decrease of felling intensity that means severe income shortfalls for the logger. The extent to which carbon storage could compensate losses of timber income is a decisive factor in the feasibility of REDD+ projects. Given the few number of scientific studies on this subject, and the even fewer number of pilot projects that have been implemented, this issue is still highly in debate. To assess the potentialities for emissions reductions of IFM REDD+ projects, and to evaluate their financial feasibility, we explored a broad range of scenarios for reducing logging intensity in a typical export-oriented forest concession in Central Africa. For each scenario and for several carbon accounting approaches, we calculated timber income shortfalls and carbon benefit to estimate internal rates of return and break-even prices of carbon credits. As part of the project of "Support for the sustainable management of forests in the Congo Basin and the Brazilian AmazonBasin" (FORAFAMA), a partnership with several forest concessionaires has allowed us to incorporate forest, industrial and economic factors. Parameters uncertainties are explicitly taken into account through a Monte-Carlo method. We predicted that current voluntary markets conditions do not permit the implementation of IFM REDD+ projects in Central African concessions. Notable exceptions to this statement are Logged to Protected Forest (LTPF) projects, that correspond to an extreme case of a complete cessation of logging. In this case, the non-building of road networks results in substantial savings. The feasibility of other IFM REDD+ projects is particularly constrained by the current approach to addressing the risk of non-permanence. As an example, under Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the maximum number of Voluntary Certified Units (VCU) available to projects including harvesting, cannot exceed the long-term average carbon benefit. In the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), an other approach to deal with non-permanency had been proposed with temporary Certified Emission Reductions (tCER). A tCER expires at the end of the commitment period following its issue. Such an approach, that can allow to value the storage of carbon even on short time periods, is much more flexible and adapted to permanent timber production tropical forests. However, even under this accounting method, IFM REDD+ projects prove to be unattractive for Central African timber companies as their feasibility remains conditioned to a major reduction of logging intensity. Otherwise, projects are severely penalized by transaction costs and low carbon differentials. Our work suggests that current methodologies of voluntary standards are not well appropriate to include IFM within REDD+. Instead of incentivizing to conciliate timber production and carbon sequestration, IFM REDD+ projects rather encourages forest concessionaires to value either carbon or timber exclusively, hence acceptability and additionality issues. To promote the deployment of a truly climate-smart forest management, the incentive system should focus more on practice changes than only on the result expressed in permanently avoided emissions. (Texte intégral)...

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