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Gender, Forests and Climate Change

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As users of forest products and guardians of traditional knowledge, women have always been involved in forestry. Nevertheless, their access to forest resources and benefits and participation in forest management is limited compared to mens despite the fact that trees are more important to women, who depend on them for their families food security, income generation and cooking fuel.

INTRODUCTION

Forest cover in Latin America and the Caribbean constitutes approximately 45% of the total land area. The forest is a source of income and subsistence for 85 million people in the region who live in forested areas, and particularly for the 8 million people who subsist on less than $1.25 per day. Moreover, forests provide hydrological and thermal regulation, climate regulation, soil protection and regeneration, and habitat for two-thirds of terrestrial biodiversity, and are key players in the carbon cycle.

As users of forest products and guardians of traditional knowledge, women have always been involved in forestry. Nevertheless, their access to forest resources and benefits and participation in forest management is limited compared to men’s despite the fact that trees are more important to women, who depend on them for their families’ food security, income generation and cooking fuel.

Forests play an important role in mitigating climate change. On one hand, they can reduce the greenhouse effect by absorbing atmospheric CO2 and storing it in biomass and soil. On the other hand, they become sources of CO2 emissions when they are felled and biodegrade, releasing the stored carbon. Emissions from the agricultural and forestry sector account for almost a quarter of total global anthropogenic emissions and 47% in the Latin American region.

To tackle this situation, in December 2007 the United Nations formed the REDD+ mechanism. REDD+ stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ fosters conservation, sustainable forest management and forest carbon stock enhancement as part of efforts to mitigate climate change.