Forestry negotiations near completion amid controversy

Delegates at UN-led climate talks in Bali are close to agreeing guidelines for a scheme to fight global warming that allows poor countries to earn money by preserving forests, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing Indonesia's foreign minister.

Under the scheme, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD), preservation of forests could become a tradable commodity with the potential to earn poor nations billions of dollars from trading carbon credits.

However, some delegates have balked at the idea of "avoided deforestation". The proposal has already been weakened due to concerns raised by the US and Brazilian delegates, Bloomberg news agency reported on Tuesday, and the US has refused to contribute to a US$300 million World Bank fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

"We just don't think [avoided deforestation] should be universally mandated and question whether it's necessarily the right tool for some countries," James Connaughton, president George W. Bush's top environmental adviser, was quoted as telling Bloomberg in an interview.

Campaigners for the rights of indigenous peoples have also criticized the proposals, noting that local communities often have the best understanding of how to conserve the forest. "A glaring gap in the text," Friends of the Earth said in a statement, "is the absence of support for Indigenous Peoples' rights."

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