Recent events in Papua New Guinea prove that the idea of an international plan against deforestation is fraught with danger and uncertainty, SBS' Brian Thomson reports.

14 Dec 2009 - 8:00 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2013 - 6:16 PM

One of the issues being discussed at Copenhagen over the next two weeks is the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degredation, known as REDD.

Delegates are attempting to draw up a framework so that the western world can offset its emissions by buying the rights to the carbon stored in the developing world's forests.

The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) is seen as a way of giving poor landowners an income that does not involve chopping the trees down.

Papua New Guinea is one of a number of countries to have jumped the gun, allowing a host of so called 'carbon cowboys' to sign up deals with dozens of landowner groups despite the lack of rules and regulations.

But questions have been raised over whether the deals involve free and informed consent.

SBS Senior Correspondent Brian Thomson reports from Papua New Guinea.