TARGET 15 - Technical Rationale extended (provided in document COP/10/INF/12/Rev.1)

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Target 15: By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks have been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

Technical rationale: The conservation, restoration and sustainable management of forests, soils (especially peatlands), freshwater and coastal wetlands and other ecosystems are proven, cost-effective, safe and immediately-available means to sequester carbon dioxide and prevent the loss of other greenhouse gases.50,51 Deforestation, wetland drainage and other habitat change lead to the emission of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. For example, the world loses approximately 13 million hectares of forests annually, including 6 million hectares of primary forests and, in the process, biodiversity is reduced, greenhouse gases are released and the livelihoods of millions of people, including indigenous peoples and local communities, are threatened.52 However, in many countries, degraded landscapes represent immense opportunity for both biodiversity restoration and carbon sequestration. For example, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and IUCN recently estimated the global potential for forest landscape restoration to be at 1 billion hectares, or about 25 per cent of the current global forest area. Recent scientific analyses indicate that the biodiversity potential of restored secondary forest is substantial.53,54 Forest landscape restoration, including of carbon-rich tropical peatlands, would also have significant co-benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Preliminary analysis indicates that, by 2030, the restoration of degraded forest lands will make the same (or perhaps as much as double) contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases as that which could be expected from avoided deforestation (70 Gt of CO² emissions). Restored landscapes and seascapes can improve resilience including adaptive capacity of ecosystems and societies, and can contribute to climate change adaptation and generate additional benefits for people, in particular indigenous and local communities and the rural poor.

Implementation: Restoration activities, such as forest and wetland landscape restoration, are already underway in many parts of the world. Consolidating policy processes and the wider application of these efforts could contribute significantly to the achievement of the objectives of the Convention, and generate significant synergies with the UNFCCC, the UNCCD and the UNFF. Appropriate incentive schemes (such as the “REDD-plus” schemes under discussion in the context of the climate change negotiations, and additional schemes for other terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems) could reduce, or even reverse, these land use changes and, with appropriate safeguards, including respect for local land and resource rights, could also deliver substantial co-benefits for biodiversity55 and local livelihoods. Monitoring is being developed as an integral part of these schemes. The Convention’s work on biodiversity and climate change is particularly relevant to this target as are many of the programmes of work.

Indicators and baseline information: Relevant indicators include the extent of native habitat types, the Ecological Footprint and related concepts as well as trophic integrity of all relevant ecosystems. Other possible indicators could include the storage of carbon and other GHG (using UNFCCC inventories supplemented by scientific assessments) and assessments of vulnerability and adaptive capacity. In addition to biomass indicators, it is important to consider degradation and restoration metrics.


Options for milestones for this target include:
  • By 2012, indicators on degradation and restoration have been developed and agreed;
  • By 2014, information on the potential contribution of all ecosystems to carbon storage and sequestration is compiled and reviewed, and a national strategy for the enhancement of the contribution of biodiversity (including habitat, population, species and genetic diversity) to ecosystem resilience and carbon storage has been prepared and adopted, taking into account provisions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, as well as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008–2018);
  • By 2014, a national plan for ecosystem restoration is in place and being implemented;
  • By 2014, information on the potential contribution of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem services to resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of impacts from climate change, is generated, compiled and reviewed; improved tools and methods for supporting ecosystem based adaptation have been developed and disseminated; and countries have begun integrating ecosystem restoration into national adaptation strategies and other relevant instruments;
  • By 2014, national plans for ecosystem restoration are integrated into national biodiversity action plans and other national strategies (including REDD-plus) and are being implemented;
  • By 2014, tools and methods for supporting ecosystem-based adaptation have been developed and disseminated; and countries have begun integrating ecosystem restoration into national adaptation strategies and other relevant instruments.

50Campbell, A, et al. (2009). Review of the Literature on the Links between Biodiversity and Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Technical Series No. 42.
51Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2009). Connecting Biodiversity and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Report of the Second Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change. Technical Series No. 41.
52Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2006). Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005: Progress towards sustainable forest management. FAO, Rome.
53Edwards, D, et al. (2009). The Value of Rehabilitating Logged Rainforest for Birds. Conservation Biology, 23(6), 1628-1633.
54Thompson, I, et al. (2009). Forest Resilience, Biodiversity, and Climate Change. A synthesis of the biodiversity/resilience/stability relationship in forest ecosystems. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal. Technical Series No. 43.
55Venter, O, et al (2009). Harnessing Carbon Payments to Protect Biodiversity. Science, 326(5958), 1368.