Protected areas' contribution to climate change mitigation, with a case study in Paraguay
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It aims to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The main goal of REDD+ is to combat climate change, but it can also contribute to securing additional environmental and social benefits, helping countries to meet a number of national and international objectives and commitments, including national development plans, goals related to the Paris Agreement, SDGs, the Bonn Challenge, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Designing REDD+ actions that aim to expand protected areas, strengthen their management, or conserve areas of importance for biodiversity and other ecosystem services, may help to protect forests and the services they provide from land-use change pressures. At the same time, this can provide buffer zones in areas of high biodiversity value, or help maintain links with other forests, also enhancing the connectivity of protected areas. Restoration of degraded forest in such areas may also provide significant benefits for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, such as erosion control and water regulation, as well as for climate change mitigation.
In a number of countries, REDD+ planning has taken into account protected areas in order to inform decisions on where to locate REDD+ actions to achieve multiple benefits. For example, in Paraguay, the National System of Protected Wildlife Areas includes ten different categories of Protected Wildlife Areas, which currently cover 14.3% of the country's land area (UNEP-WCMC and IUCN, 2018a). The map below shows that approximately 12% of Paraguay's forest cover is located in protected areas. As Paraguay prepares to implement REDD+, information on the location of protected areas has helped to determine where REDD+ actions are possible (as certain uses of the forest are prohibited in protected areas), and also where REDD+ actions that prevent deforestation or restore forest outside of protected areas may help to conserve biodiversity, supporting or enhancing the effectiveness of existing conservation areas by buffering them from land-use change.
Protected areas and forest cover in Paraguay.
Source: Walcott J., Thorley J., Kapos V., Miles L., Woroniecki S. and Blaney R. 2015. Mapping multiple benefits of REDD+ in Paraguay: using spatial information to support land-use planning. Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC.