Groups Unite to Challenge The Definition of Forests Under UNFCCC/REDD

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Orin Langelle, Global Forest Coalition media coordinator +48 696 723 046
Gemma Tillack, The Wilderness Society +61 427 057 643
Ana Filippini, World Rainforest Movement +48 785 260 455

Global Forest Coalition

Groups Unite to Challenge The Definition of Forests Under UNFCCC/REDD

POZNAN, Poland - Global Forest Coalition, The Wilderness Society, World Rainforest Movement, Global Justice Ecology Project, Via Campesina, the International Youth Delegation and the STOP GE Trees Campaign united today to challenge the UN/REDD definition of forests.

Currently the UN considers industrial tree plantations as forests. 
This is, simply put, an egregious error.  Plantations are not forests. 
Forests are diverse ecosystems and plantations are void of
biodiversity.  The UN definition endangers Indigenous Peoples, forest
dependent people, peasants, small farmers, biodiversity and exacerbates
climate change.

The groups held a media conference this morning and several actions
occurred on the theme of calling on the UNFCCC to change the definition
of forests so it distinguishes between native forests and plantations.

"We have united to challenge the definition of forest under the UNFCCC
to ensure that agricultural tree crops, or plantations are not defined
as a forest", said Gemma Tillack, an international youth delegate and
campaigner for The Wilderness Society in Australia.

"The conversion of native forests to plantations is bad for
biodiversity, people and the climate. Human rights, especially women's
rights, are being violated where there are plantations, and they should
not be defined as forests.  In addition, industrial tree plantations
impact the climate--tropical forests and grasslands store significantly
more carbon than tree plantations", said Ana Filippini from World
Rainforest Movement (Uruguay) and member of the GenderCC Network -
Women for Climate Justice.

"Schemes such as REDD allow companies to prevent family farmers from
using the land to produce the food that is needed to feed their
communities and their countries", said Luis Muchanga of Via Campesina
in Mozambique.  He continued,  "Deforestation, which is a major driver
of global warming, is not made by peasants and indigenous peoples, but
by large companies that are given the right to convert the forest to
tree plantations".

The groups are proposing that the definitions are changed so:

o Forests are defined as 'a terrestrial ecosystem generated and
maintained primarily through natural and ecological and evolutionary
processes that are home to most of the world's biodiversity'.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

o Plantations are defined as a crop of trees planted and regularly
harvested by humans that do not provide habitat for biodiversity.

"The definition of forests under REDD is utterly ridiculous", stated
Sandy Gauntlett, a Maori indigenous rights activist from New Zealand,
and representative of  Global Forest Coalition.  "It leaves wide open
the ability of countries to destroy their natural forests and replace
them with industrial tree plantations-which destroys wildlife habitat
and displaces indigenous and forest dependent communities.  New Zealand
is an example of the disaster of tree plantations-and now we are in the
process of developing genetically engineered trees for plantations", he
continued.

"Commercial release of genetically engineered Franken-trees in
plantations poses a very serious threat to the world's forests and
peoples", added Anne Petermann, Co-Director of Global Justice Ecology
Project in the U.S.  "GE insect resistant trees, for example, can
contaminate water and soils and the pollen may be toxic to people that
inhale it or wildlife that ingest it", she stated.

The groups in this joint press release agree that: "If it is not
resolved, and REDD applies this definition of forests, the global
community could miss the chance of avoiding dangerous climate change
and the 1.6 billion people who depend on forests for there survival
will continue to be negatively affected".

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