How are Asia-Pacific economies planning to tackle climate change in the forestry sector?
On 23 October 2017, policymakers from all over the Asia-Pacific region will gather in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the 27th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC), a high level regional forum for discussing forestry policy and technical issues. On the agenda this year is a discussion on Forests and climate change: Progress since Paris, financing climate action and other emerging issues. Since the Paris Agreement entered into force a year ago, economies have been submitting their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC, of which thirty-six were submitted from Asia-Pacific economies.
The Paris Climate Agreement (signed in April 2016) is based on nationally determined contributions to cut GHG emissions. Thirty-six Asia-Pacific economies have since submitted their NDCs. (Photo by the United Nations)
This APFC session will explore avenues of support for economies to achieve their NDCs, ideas for creating cross-sector synergies with agriculture and other land-use sectors, and strategies for tapping into international financing mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund.
For delegates and observers attending the APFC, some context on related developments may be useful. So what have economies in the region been doing so far in terms of climate change and forestry policy? Below are some highlights of policies from select economies, based mainly on an APFNet-funded paper titled Climate change and forest policy in the Asia-Pacific by University of British Colombia Research Associate Judi Krzyzanowski, and the INDC and NDC submissions of economies.
Cambodia ratified the UNFCCC in 1995 and joined the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. The Office of Climate Change (established in 2003) and the National Climate Change Committee (established in 2006) are responsible for coordinating major climate change policies and programs. Cambodia is also active in UN REDD activities, and a number of demonstration projects have been initiated. One of the main guiding policies for Cambodia’s forestry activities is The National Forest Programme (2010-2029).
As part of its NDCs, Cambodia aims to increase its forest cover by 60% of the national land area by 2030 (from current estimates of 57%). Activities to achieve this goal include reclassifying forest areas to avoid deforestation, and implementing the EU-FLEGT programme to improve forest governance and promote legal timber trade.
China is one of the key contributors to forest cover growth in the Asia-Pacific region, having increased forest cover from 157 to 206 million hectares (ha) from 1990 to 2010. In 2009, China formally pledged its commitment to climate change mitigation in signing the Copenhagen Accord, which included targets to increase the use of non-fossil energy and reforestation. Around 2015, China issued a policy to ban commercial logging in state-owned natural forests to preserve natural forests, which will help conserve carbon sinks.
According to the 13th National Five Year Plan, China aims to increase forest cover area from around 21% in 2015 to 23% in 2020. In its INDCs, China also set a goal to increase forest cover by 117 million ha by 2050 and forest stock volume by 4.5 billion m3 by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels).
As an island economy, Fiji is particularly vulnerable to climate change. One of the major planning documents guiding forestry activities is the Strategic Development Plan 2017-2030, which includes a key priority on “Climate change adaptation and long term national goals for sustainable development in the forestry sector”.
Fiji’s INDCs recognizes the importance of forests in mitigating climate change, and mentions the possibility of participating in the REDD+ program.
Climate change mitigation is significant for Indonesia, as the economy is the region’s biggest hotspot for deforestation and land-use change-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In response, Indonesia has become active in numerous international forestry programs. Indonesia was the first to adopt a legal framework to integrate REDD initiatives, and over half of REDD demonstration and readiness projects were commenced there. Indonesia was also the first Asian economy to initiate a voluntary partnership agreement under the EU FLEGT program, to control the loss of forest carbon from illegal timber trade.
Climate change efforts in Indonesia are guided by policies including the National Action Plan on GHG Reduction. As part of its NDCs, Indonesia has set a target to reduce emissions by 29% by 2030 (based on a “business as usual scenario”).
Nepal’s forestry efforts are mainly guided by the Forest Policy 2015, which promotes forest carbon sequestration through sustainable forest management in community forestry. The economy’s efforts on climate change includes its involvement in REDD+ as a Programme Partner [Economy] since 2009.
As part of its NDCs, Nepal aims to increase forest carbon stocks by at least 5% by 2025 compared to 2015 levels. It also aims to maintain at least 40% forest cover (of total land area).
The Philippines is one of the only economies that has developed forestry sector strategies focused specifically on combatting climate change. The Forestry Master Plan for Climate-Resilient Forestry Development (2016 to 2028) includes detailed strategies under four broad areas: forest ecosystems and community engagement, ecosystem goods and services, improving governance and other support strategies including education, data collection and forest certification.
Activities under the plan target climate change mitigation and adaptation through means that ensure sustainable forest management, protection and conservation. Examples include mangrove rehabilitation and deepening participation in REDD+ initiatives.
As part of its NDCs, the Philippines aims to reduce GHG gas emissions by 70% by 2030 based on a business as usual scenario in 2000, which includes the forestry sector.
One of the major strategic planning documents that guide Thailand’s forestry activities is the 20-Year National Strategy of the Royal Forest Department (2017-2036).
At the moment, Thailand’s NDCs aim to reduce GHG emissions by 20% by 2030 based on a business as usual scenario, however this target does not yet include the forestry sector. Nonetheless, it was mentioned that the economy aims to increase forest cover to 40% through community engagement, including those living in mangrove forests.
Vietnam ratified the UNFCCC in 1992 and joined the Kyoto Protocol in 1998. Through reforestation initiatives including mangrove planting to store atmospheric carbon and protect coastlines, Vietnam has become a contributor to forest cover growth in the region. The economy is also active in REDD+ activities.
One of the key strategic documents guiding forestry initiatives is the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (2006-2020). As part of its NDCs, Vietnam has committed to increase forest cover by 45% by 2030.
Want to know more about the state of forestry policies and planning in Asia-Pacific economies? Join us at the FPN partner event: Mapping the Future: Taking Forestry Strategic Planning to the Next Level on 25 October 2017 at the 27th Session of the APFC!
Note: The Climate change and forest policy in the Asia-Pacific project is an APFNet-funded project that aims to support forest managers and policymakers to effectively manage and maintain forest ecosystems in order to adapt to climate change. The project is led by the University of British Columbia. More information can be found here.
About the FPN Blog
The APFNet-led Asia-Pacific Forestry Planning Network (FPN) is an informal knowledge network that aims to strengthen national forestry planning processes in the Asia-Pacific region. The FPN Blog is targeted to network members but policymakers and other forestry practitioners may also find it relevant. For more information, please contact Ms. Anna Finke at email@example.com.