Because forests play a critical role in the global carbon cycle, the international community is actively pursuing policies and programs to increase the amount of carbon stored in forests. Recent estimates suggest that forestry could contribute an average 6.7 billion tons of emissions reductions annually, with over two-thirds of this potential coming from tropical nations. Making full use of the forest carbon sink is appealing to both the developed and the developing world. Developed nations see forest carbon projects as a low-cost option for mitigating climate change. For the developing world, forest carbon payments could provide a sustainable source of much-needed income. At the most recent climate negotiation talks in Copenhagen, even as negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions limits stalled, the parties moved closer to a framework agreement on forest carbon.
"Given the size of the global carbon pool in forest vegetation, the potential climatic effects of natural and anthropogenic changes in forests are enormous. Therefore, forest carbon management must be an important element of any international agreement on climate change. In this regard, the Kyoto Protocol has proven ineffective, in part, due to its emphasis on project-based evaluation and the absence of a mechanism for compensating avoided deforestation. We consider alternative ways to include forest carbon management within the framework of an international climate treaty...."