Plantations and natural forest loss

Many forestry experts claim that the establishment of plantations will reduce or eliminate the need to exploit natural forest for wood production. In principle this is true because due to the high productivity of plantations less land is needed. Many point to the example of New Zealand, where 19% of the forest area provides 99% of the supply of industrial round wood. It has been estimated that the world's demand for fiber could be met by just 5% of the world forest (Sedjo & Botkin 1997). However in practice, plantations are replacing natural forest, for example in Indonesia. According to the FAO, about 7% of the natural closed forest being lost in the tropics is land being converted to plantations. The remaining 93% of the loss is land being converted to agriculture and other uses. Worldwide, an estimated 15% of plantations in tropical countries are established on closed canopy natural forest. In the Kyoto Protocol, there are proposals encouraging the use of plantations to reduce carbon dioxide levels (though this idea is being challenged by some groups on the grounds that the sequestered CO2 is eventually released after harvest). The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sets binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving the "stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[10] The Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol.[11] The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and Canada withdrew from i in 2011.[2] Other United Nations member states which did not ratify the protocol are Afghanistan, Andorra and South Sudan. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries[12] and the then European Community[13] (the European Union-15, made up of 15 states at the time of the Kyoto negotiations) ("Annex I Parties") commit themselves to limit or reduce their emissions of four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons).[14] All member countries give general commitments.[15] At negotiations, Annex I countries collectively agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% on average for the period 2008-2012, relative to their annual emissions in a base year, usually 1990. Since the US has not ratified the treaty, the collective emissions reduction of Annex I Kyoto countries falls from 5.2% to 4.2% below base year.[16]:26 Emission limits do not include emissions by international aviation and shipping.[17] The benchmark 1990 emission levels accepted by the Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC (decision 2/CP.3) were the values of "global warming potential" calculated for the IPCC Second Assessment Report.[18] These figures are used for converting the various greenhouse gas emissions into comparable carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) when computing overall sources and sinks. The Protocol allows for several "flexible mechanisms", such as emissions trading, the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation to allow Annex I countries to meet their GHG emission limitations by purchasing GHG emission reductions credits from elsewhere, through financial exchanges, projects that reduce emissions in non-Annex I countries, from other Annex I countries, or from Annex I countries with excess allowances.