The first document I’m covering will be “Views on the issues identified in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 72 and appendix II. Submissions from Parties” from the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.  The recommendations were supposed to be submitted by February 28th, 2012.  Almost every country had their submissions sent in by the 29th.  The US sent their’s in on March 6th.  I guess that’s my first problem though I don’t know the circumstances which brought that about.

Decision1/CP.16 paragraph 72 and appendix II covers the creation of a new mechanism to track and limit deforestation. It is called the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Adaptation of Forests.

If there’s one thing debate taught me it’s that one always needs to look for loopholes in language because almost no matter what if the other person is intelligent enough they will use them.  I’m not trying to be cynical, that’s what I experienced.  The only people no like that were visibly committed to social justice, an attitude I myself strive for.

That makes me uncomfortable with India’s position on deforestation.  I think it’s obvious from India’s position on the methodology for how forests should be measured and indigenous peoples included in governance that they are looking to subvert the proposal.  First they state that ToFs (trees out of forest) need to be accounted for in surveying.  For a second I didn’t think about it.  Then I realized this was a paper dedicated to deforestation, not just carbon sequestration, and as a result would have to take into account biological diversity and ecological resilience.  India’s suggestions seemed an attempt to circumvent both.  They suggested that the actual means for determining how the trees be accounted for be determined by each individual state, so that it is done according to their needs.  In addition, India suggested that the researchers assessing the amount of ‘forest’ should also have their work reviewed by outside experts and independent experts.

Ecosystems decays quicker the more biodiversity, land, or services you cut out of them.  By allowing trees outside of forests to be counted you are creating another forest that is wholly non-existent, especially in a country as large as India.  Ecosystem services would be non-existent and there would be no additional biodiversity.  This would allow for the additional degradation of land and loss of top soil to be included in the conservation of forests.  New trees planted that had not matured could be considered forested area without additional ecosystem services being present.  For example, NTFPs (Non-tree Forest Products) would not be nearly as prevalent as they should be given the amount of trees in place.  While this would mean there is an increase in the amount of GHG being sequestered, since you trees absorb more CO2 than older trees, the absence a genuine forest system should make individual and newly planted trees subject to their own form of accounting.

Allowing India to establish its own methodology would also create loopholes.   India does not identify what type of experts would be involved in the review of the forest information that must be analyzed and disseminated.  This leaves a large amount of room for political manipulation.  Political appointees with no scientific background could write the summary and general reports on the data.  These could easily mislead those who know little about the science or bring about the dissemination of false information to decision-making bodies.

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