Our solutions

Deforestation and climate change
5 November 2009

It takes a long time and the roads are treacherous. But few journeys to work are as beautiful as Javier Baltodano's.

As coordinator for Friends of the Earth Costa Rica he often travels through rainforest into the mountainous interior of the country.

Community effort

Javier works with five remaining forest communities trying to protect their traditional way of life.

Costa Rica is the world's largest producer of pineapples. But the plantations they are grown on threaten the existence of local communities.

Prickly issues

Pineapples aren't the only problem. The UK Government is taking a dangerous gamble with the world's forests.

The Reducing Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) initiative would allow industrialised countries to offset their emissions by buying up chunks of forests.

They would do this by paying developing countries such as Costa Rica to carry out so-called clean development projects.

False solution

Deforestation is responsible for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. British politicians believe REDD will stop this in its tracks and prevent more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

They couldn't be more wrong. Allowing industry to buy forest credits will do nothing to reduce the UK's emissions from:

  • Cars
  • Planes
  • Homes
  • Businesses.
[REDD] will do nothing to tackle climate change or protect indigenous people.
Javier Baltodano

Potential disaster

People on the ground are ferocious in their opposition to the idea.

In Costa Rica the REDD scheme would enable pineapple plantations to encroach on more of the country's rainforest.

Written into the small print of REDD is a clause allowing monoculture plantations to be counted as the same as pristine rainforest.

Keep forest standing

But plantations store fives times less carbon than rainforest. And cutting down forests releases carbon dioxide and destroys the lives and livelihoods of local people.

Friends of the Earth Costa Rica is campaigning for indigenous peoples to have the right to govern their own communities within the forest.

Collecting resin from the Baco tree to use for food.

Collecting resin from the Baco tree to use for food.

Working together

A fifth of the world's population relies on forests in some way. They are a source of:

  • Food
  • Traditional medicine
  • Shelter.

Working to conserve forests means this can continue. In some parts of Costa Rica indigenous people already play a big part in conservation.

They help to control illegal logging and hunting and protect national parks. Other communities use forests to make handicrafts such as hats and bags to sell.

Sustainable forests

Another important use for forests in Costa Rica is sustainable timber production - an approach that benefits everyone.

It means indigenous people have a livelihood without fear of their land being turned over to plantations. And since they depend on the rainforest they ensure it remains intact.

Press for change

Friends of the Earth is working to expose REDD ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks in December.

Add your name to our international petition demanding world leaders change their thinking on climate.

A version of this article first appeared in Earthmatters, the magazine for Friends of the Earth supporters

Extracting palm fibre to make hats to sell at market.

© Friends of the Earth Costa Rica

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