At the United Nations climate conference in Bali last year delegates agreed to include forest conservation in future discussions on a new global warming treaty. If adopted, REDD (Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation) means that the value of carbon in intact forests can be realized in carbon accounting.
Environmentalists see REDD as a useful vehicle for encouraging conservation of rainforests in the Congo, the Amazon and Asia.
This new resource has been termed “Green carbon” to be distinguished from grey carbon in fossil fuels, blue carbon in the oceans and atmosphere, and brown carbon in industrialized forests. There is of course really no real colour difference and the colour is merely a metaphor. 
The Green Carbon agenda received more scientific support last week with a major paper in Nature. Entitled ‘Old-growth forests as global carbon sinks’. The paper reports that in forests between 15 and 800 years of age, net ecosystem productivity (the net carbon balance of the forest including soils) is usually positive and this demonstrates that old-growth forests can continue to accumulate carbon, contrary to the long-standing view that they are carbon neutral.
The Kyoto Protocol (Marrakesh Accord) definition of a forest makes no distinction between a natural forest and a plantation.
Under the Kyoto Protocol definition, a “forest” is: A minimum area of land of 0.05 hectares with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10 per cent with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2 metres at maturity in situ. It includes (i) young stands of natural regeneration; (ii) all plantations which have yet to reach a crown density of 10-30 per cent or tree height of 2-5 metres; (iii) areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention such as harvesting or natural causes but which are expected to revert to forest.
International negotiations on REDD are still continuing and were high on the agenda at the Accra climate change meeting . However, is REDD all green? What will happen at Copenhagen in 2009? A number of international environmental groups raised alarm bells at the Accra meeting, claiming that allowing developed countries to purchase REDD credits would absolve them of responsibility for reducing industrial emissions at home. Some groups proposed setting firm targets for industrial emissions reductions, which could not be substituted by REDD credits. Others feared that a REDD mechanism would exclude and threaten indigenous communities and serve as an excuse for land grabbing, or endanger sovereignty in rainforest nations.
And, for Australian pastoralists, a key question is whether savanna woodland thickening be considered in the discussions, and if so – is it REDD or rangeland degradation?