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The Hidden Frontier of Forest Degradation: Review of the Science, Policy and Practice of Reducing Degradation Emissions

Griscom, Bronson; Ganz, David ; Virgilio, Nicole ; Price, Fran ; Hayward, Jeff ; Cortez, Rane ; Dodge, Gary ; Hurd, Jack ; Lowenstein, Frank L. ; Stanley, Bill

Forest degradation represents at least 20 percent of forest carbon emissions and acts as a catalyst of deforestation.Despite the growing recognition of the importance of reducing degradation, there is still some skepticismabout its inclusion in policy, especially within U.S. domestic legislation. This skepticism stems from a general lack of understanding about the magnitude and importance of degradation as a source of emissions, and about the availability of credible accounting methods and effective strategies to reduce degradation.

We have concluded from a review of both published literature and practitioner experience that:

  1. We must include major forms of degradation in a REDD mechanism because of the magnitude of these emissions;
  2. We can include major forms of degradation in a REDD mechanism thanks to the availability of both (a) reliable accounting methods and (b) effective, sustainable strategies;
  3. Credible methodologies exist and are emerging to verify emissions reductions from avoided degradation; and
  4. Solutions to many of the challenges of credibly reducing emissions from forest degradation (i.e. baselines, monitoring, verification, and sustainable strategies) have been demonstrated by existing initiatives.