Wednesday, February 10, 2016

With the submission of its Forest Reference Level for deforestation, Ethiopia is now ready to measure its performance in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

Addis Ababa: – Looking at increasing its climate action, Ethiopia has become the first African country to submit its Forest Reference Level to the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change.

With the support of FAO through the UN-REDD Programme and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank, Ethiopia is now ready to calculate potential financial incentives it can receive for protecting its forests.

“The very objective of submitting the reference level is to allow for the country to be eligible for accessing carbon finances from various sources aimed at harnessing forestry development,” said Dr Shiferwa Teklemariam, Minister of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,Forest Reference level (FRL) is a reference against which the effectiveness of REDD+ strategy implementation is measured in terms of country’s performance in emission reduction or carbon removal, and on the basis of which financial incentives for a country are calculated. It is a bench mark for assessing each country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities.

Ethiopia’s FRL includes deforestation and afforestation and CO2 emissions. It is a national reference level (baseline) calculated based on a historical average of emissions and removals between 2000 and 2013.

Counting Ethiopia’s Trees

Since 2014, Ethiopia has been busy collecting data on its forest resources through a National Forest Inventory. Field crews have been trained and deployed to collect valuable data on the status, use and management of Ethiopia’s trees. This data is essential to calculating baseline estimates of how much carbon Ethiopia’s forests contain.

While the Forest Reference Emission Level for deforestation is 19,498,496.10 tCO2/ Year (estimated from an annual deforestation rate of 84,882 ha over the last 13 years), the Forest Reference Level for afforestation is 10,247,080.97 tCO2/year (based on an annual afforestation rate of 30,769 ha over the last 13 years) putting the country as net emitter in the forest sector.

How Ethiopia defines its forests (land spanning at least 0.5 ha covered by trees and bamboo, tree height of at least 2m and a canopy cover of at least 20%) not only ensures maximum REDD+ benefits, but also helps amplify the country’s efforts towards green growth economy. Based on this updated definition, forests in Ethiopia cover 15.5 percent of the country’s surface.

Ethiopia is expected to receive financial incentives when it achieves emission reductions from deforestation, and when it removes more carbon compared to the reference set for afforestation, and when a third party measures and verifies it through the Monitoring Reporting and Verification systems put in place.

REDD+ is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Countries have agreed to implement REDD+ in phases to allow developing countries to participate in the activities in a way that considers their national circumstances. Most countries are currently in the readiness phase where they are required to prepare national REDD+ strategy, develop a national forest monitoring system, a measurement, reporting and verification system, develop forest reference emissions level and safeguards information system. Ethiopia has been implementing its REDD+ readiness process since January 2013.