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Swedish researchers form expert network on use of world's forests to improve climate and reduce poverty

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, Linköping University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have a newly formed, interdisciplinary expert network in forestry research.

This network will supply Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) with knowledge on how the world’s forests can best contribute to reducing poverty whilst diminishing climatic impact.

The aim is to make better use of Sweden's overall knowledge in forestry by facilitating a knowledge exchange between researchers, industry, associations, state bodies and agencies on forestry, climate and poverty issues. For this reason, the research network will be linked to a reference group with representatives of all these players.

Sida will give the project SEK 4.2 million in funding over two years and has so far tasked the researchers to analyse three areas:

*Follow-up and analysis of how REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) should be designed so as to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and benefit poor people.

*Development of criteria for forest production which are sustainable in the long term, socio-economically responsible and climate-effective.

*Review and analysis of existing global instruments for carbon storage in forest ecosystems.

Forest resources play a central role in climate and poverty problems, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the consequences of the greenhouse effect. Global deforestation, which takes place primarily in the tropics, contributes 20-25% of the world's climate-impacting greenhouse gas emissions. The World Bank estimates 1.6 billion people to be wholly or partially dependent on forest resources for their daily sustenance. In 2013, the Kyoto Protocol, which regulates international financing mechanisms to reduce climatic impact will be replaced with new regulations which will presumably include a number of forestry provisions. The objective is for the new climate agreement to be written during the UN’s global Meeting of the Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.

“The discussion on how to include more forestry provisions has raised difficult methodological issues as well as justified concern that incorrectly designed new regulations would be to the detriment of poor people who depend on forest products. This initiative aims to establish a Swedish knowledge hub relating to issues affecting forests, climate and combating poverty. It will ensure that Sida and other Swedish agencies have access to relevant knowledge so that Sweden will be able to employ forest measures effectively and attain climatic and poverty goals,” says Gunnar Köhlin, Chairman of the expert network’s management group.

The management group consists of researchers from five faculties at the University of Gothenburg as well as researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Linköping University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, plus the Sida-financed Forest Initiative at the Swedish Forestry Association.

The expert network was presented at the Stockholm Conference Center (Norra Latin) on 16th December 2008 at a seminar arranged by Forest Initiative.

Helena Aaberg | alfa
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