Paying to save rainforests

In today's Nature, Jeff Tollefson describes an ambitious plan in Brazil to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Farmers in Pará who agree to put rainforest land into conservation rather than clearing it will receive monthly payments from the Brazilian government -- and the funds to support those payments come from international donors. Brazil will receive about $114 million this year to support the project in Pará and others like it through its Amazon Fund. Norway pledged up to $1 billion until 2015.

Getting REDD right in Brazil and beyond is "totally possible and essential", says Lars Løvold, director of the Rainforest Foundation Norway in Oslo, which, along with Friends of the Earth Norway, proposed to the Norwegian government that it invest in a big forest conservation initiative. "But you need some projects to show that it works."

Sounds pretty promising, if it works. Last December, WWF was skeptical:

WWF criticized Brazil's plan to reduce Amazon deforestation to 5,740 square kilometers per year as being "short on ambition and detail".

In a statement issued Wednesday, WWF said that Brazil's proposed fund for conserving the Amazon would still result in the annual loss of an area forest the size of Rhode Island.