Climate Change and Carbon

Climate Change and Carbon © Ian Redmond

Saving the apes can help the fight against climate change.

The Paris Climate Agreement charted the way for every country on Earth to tackle climate change;  it recognises the role of healthy forests and other ecosystems in stabilising our planet’s climate.   The 31-page text ( includes the importance of “positive incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks” (paragraph 55) and a single reference to biodiversity in this paragraph:

Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and noting the importance for some of the concept of “climate justice”, when taking action to address climate change,

Carbon trading has become a multi-BILLION dollar business. Not only could it help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming, it could also help protect forests where gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gibbons live. 

This working group was set up to explore the potential of carbon finance to contribute to the conservation of apes and their habitat. Some conservation groups are already putting these ideas into practice – see and click on Projects to find those in areas of ape habitat.

The Ape Alliance Climate Change and Carbon working group actively lobbied for “avoided deforestation” carbon credits, which could benefit tropical forest conservation.   But despite our efforts, the Paris Climate Agreement does not specifically mention the essential role of animals such as apes in seed dispersal, merely noting the importance of biodiversity and other ‘non-carbon benefits’.   Primates and elephants are among the most important #GardenersoftheForest (search on Twitter), whose survival is essential for healthy tropical forests in the future.  This is because by eating the fruits of today, they sow the seeds of the trees of tomorrow.   Our goal is to ensure that forest carbon finance protects the animals as well as the woody plants in forest ecosystems, thereby ensuring ‘permanence’ in carbon stocks and equally important, enabling these iconic species to flourish in their natural habitat.

Note:  As well as the Paris Agreement between governments, the CoP21 climate talks resulted in the Paris Pledge for non-governmental organisations, businesses and other ‘non-state actors’ – find out how you can help prevent dangerous climate change here:

To find out more about what you can do4apes, contact one of the Ape Alliance members involved

Learn more

Links to Ape Allies’ analysis of the Paris Agreement for wildlife: - Essential reading for all with an interest in preventing dangerous climate change - which I guess means every one of us!  Highlights the importance of seed dispersal by animals in carbon-rich tropical forests - and the need to protect these #GardenersoftheForest – a positive take, while cautioning that “Paris was the starting line, not the finish… But the race has finally begun.” - “Climate change is a global problem. If we're to fix it, we need a global solution - and we need it soon.”  - Useful analysis of the pros and cons of the Paris agreement, relevant to forest wildlife as well as forest people.

The following documents explain this complex topic in more detail. Please read them and write to your MP, MEP, Senator or Congressman urging him or her to lend support.


(via Google Documents) - FSC magazine includes Ian Redmond’s article on Animals in Forests on p.5-6.

(via Google Documents)

  1. Forest Elephants: Tree Planters of the Congo (Biotropica 2009)
  2. Forest Elephants: Tree Planters of the Congo Supplementary Material (Biotropica 2009)
  3. Sample letter:
    An open letter from the Ape Alliance chairman to Rt Hon David Miliband MP, UK Secretary of State for Environment
    Please feel free to use this letter as a basis for yours, or simply write in support of it.
  4. Summary of arguments sent with above letter.
  5. Submission by SFM to the UK Environmental Audit Committee’s Voluntary Carbon Market Inquiry.
  6. Submission by SFM to DEFRA consultation on voluntary standards for carbon trading
  7. Two page leaflet summarising the issue.
  8. Forest Carbon briefing document by Global Canopy Programme (more info at
  9. The VivoCarbon Initiative - Forests First in the Fight Against Climate Change (more info at
  10. Ape Alliance members helped to draft the Forest NOW Declaration, launched with a full page ad in the Financial Times on 12th September 2007. Sign up to this important Declaration at and view the calendar counting down to Copenhagen 2009 at
Letters & Documents from November 2010:

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