Improving Efficiency in Kenya’s Forestry Sector Could Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 27 percent

Improving Efficiency in Kenya’s Forestry Sector Could Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 27 percent

Increasing efficiency in Kenya’s forestry sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent over 2010 levels, helping the East African nation meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, and bring economic benefits of $188 million per year, says a new joint United Nations and Kenyan government report released on the International Day of Forests.

Improving Efficiency in Forestry Operations and Forest Product Processing in Kenya: A Viable REDD+ Policy and Measure? finds that investing in efficiency measures in forest product processing and operations could contribute to reducing deforestation and forest degradation while delivering a reduction of 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year. Kenya’s 2010 emissions were 73 tCO2e, the majority of which came from land-use, agriculture and forestry.

The investments proposed in the report—prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with the United Nations Collaborative Partnership on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) in developing countries, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Authorities, and the Kenya Forest Service—would cost close to $39 million per year, less than 25 per cent of the potential returns.

Improving Efficiency in Kenya’s Forestry Sector Could Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 27 percent

Improving Efficiency in Kenya’s Forestry Sector Could Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 27 percent

The report identified three opportunities that are expected to bring major socio-economic benefits while achieving results in REDD+ – an expanded REDD approach that includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. These are investments in enhancing efficiency in charcoal production, fuelwood consumption at household level, and fuelwood consumption at industrial level.

The report notes that the viability of these measures makes a strong case for their inclusion in Kenya’s National REDD+ Strategy. Given the economic gains, Kenya could assess what financial and regulatory incentives are needed to bolster both public and private investments in the forestry sector.

“Kenya has long demonstrated its commitment to including REDD+, an important means of protecting our threatened forest resources, in its national policy framework and development strategy,” said Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities.

“We are also reviewing the best ways to address the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, so this report on enhancing efficiency in forest operations and products processing comes at a timely moment. While we expected increased efficiency in charcoal production and wood fuel consumption to be the most attractive measures, the report contributes invaluable empirical evidence on carbon and non-carbon benefits these efficiency gains can bring. We now have a strong case to build political momentum for new transformative and innovative policies.”

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director said, “Kenya has pledged to play its part in the Paris Agreement by bringing in more clean tech, reducing reliance on wood fuel, increasing tree cover and enhancing energy and resource efficiency across all sectors. The recommendations in this report show clearly how the forestry sector can make a significant contribution to these commitments. And beyond improving the health of Kenya’s environment, the economic benefits from increased efficiency in forestry also represent a sound return on investment.”

Download the full report here and the summary for policymakers here.

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