Big numbers to save the forests

By Simeon Max

While countries and organizations place more and more ambitious goals to combat deforestation and enhance restoration efforts on the negotiation tables, the question remains: Are these goals enough to keep global warming below 2°C? Are these goals going to be truly and diligently pursued? Who has the adequate authority and capabilities to monitor these pledges and how often should this monitoring be conducted? And who is the one to implement these goals and to spend all the money?

The quantitative pledges presented, partly in hectares to be restored, partly in dollars to be transferred, are overwhelming. Unimaginable numbers, and honestly, the sheer length of these numbers makes me feel nervous (e.g. $ pledged by Norway, Germany, UK to fight tropical deforestation). These are the dollars that finally have to make the change!

Many of you fellow IFSA students have asked for reports on agroforestry topics and integrated land use solutions. So, I have attended some sessions in the Indonesian Pavilion today. Indonesia hosts millions of hectares of monoculture plantations, mostly Acacia mangium, Acacia Crassicarpa and Eucalyptus. You probably all know that monocultures have to be seen critically regarding their ecological impacts on flora and fauna. On the other hand, they are incredibly easy to manage and yield good economic profits – with a rotation of only 5 years (temperate foresters, can you even imagine…?). However, the Landscape Approach demands an integrative consideration of the land use matrix, meaning the combination of different land use forms to optimize the sum of ecological and economic benefits. Hence, early trials test the combination of eucalyptus + soy, or acacia + sugar cane on the same fields, mostly in line systems. These are promising approaches to demonstrate that the biological value can be guaranteed while actually making money from your land. And that’s what counts for us humans in the end, isn’t it?

The previous environmental minister of Indonesia, Mr. Sarwono, had a catchy allegory to explain why global efforts to halt deforestation have been so slowly progressing. Just as a student realizes the day before the big exam that it’s about time to study, we humans realize just now that we have to save the forests – it is high time! Do you know what to do?


If you have further questions or comments, please leave them below! Also, I’d be happy to provide you with further readings if you wish.


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