03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What's Up With The Rainforest: Carbon Price of $10/Ton Could Save Forests

As world leaders, climate experts, advocacy groups, and tons of concerned citizens converged on Copenhagen in the past weeks the Rainforest Newsladder took notice. The top stories over the past week have all (and for good reason) revolved around the issues taking place at the U.N. Climate Change Conference. Working with the Rainforest Alliance we helped create The Rainforest Newsladder as a way of getting you the most important news regarding rainforest conservation and protection.

Saving forests has been a top priority at the COP15 conference. As a story from Reuters points out delegates need only look to what is happening in Brazil and Indonesia to see how big the problem has become. Tracks of precious carbon absorbing tropical forests are being cut down to make way for cash crops such as palm oil and soy. In Brazil, acres of forests (along with the wildlife that thrives there) are being cut down to make way for vast tracks of cattle grazing land. The solution - The U.N. is currently backing a scheme called "reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation," or REDD for short. The rudimentary explanation is that investors (rich polluting countries) would pay governments and land owners to not cut down the rainforest. The premise is based upon a developing carbon market where the world's polluters can offset the emissions by paying to keep rainforests intact. Rich countries pay to keep polluting and poor countries get paid for keeping their rainforests. You can see why this is such contentious topic in Copenhagen.

The Rainforest Newsladder did an excellent job this week with keeping the conversation active on REDD. A story was posted from the Irish Times that took a closer look at the REDD agreement and found the final text left forests and indigenous people "vulnerable." The big slight, as stated in the story, stems from the rich nations not taking the the concerns of those who have protected these lands for centuries seriously. The binding measures that sought protection for these groups in the pre-Copenhagen version had been removed. Their new home - the non-binding preamble. Once again, the devil is in the details.

Our next story covers President Obama's first intervention into the talks. In a story posted from the Guardian, Barack Obama backs a plan put forward by Norway and Brazil for implementing REDD. The plan, which has had success in pilot studies, is also backed by the Prince Charles Rainforest Project. The big sticking points for any of the more than 20 REDD plans that have been introduced is how to create safeguards for local populations (read above), provide transparency in carbon accounting and money distribution. As the summit winds down all eyes will be on the United States to take a leadership role to make sure the summit has some tangible results.

Finally, an update from a story posted on The Rainforest Newsladder a couple of weeks back. A group of five Penan rainforest communities in Malaysia are not waiting for the world to come to a consensus on what to do about climate change and are taking matters into their own hands. The group is suing the local state government and Malaysian timber giant Samling for violation of their native customary rights. It is a move that would grant the groups 80,000 hectares of land and halt all current timber projects within the region.

The Penan Rainforest groups are a great example of how you don't have to wait to make change. Make the first step by getting the latest news and information on rainforest conservation and protection at The Rainforest Newsladder. Even better - post the stories you come across so everyone can benefit. The more people that get involved, the faster we can make sure that these precious resources are protected.