The World Bank has unveiled a new carbon finance initiative designed to help the world’s poorest countries reduce deforestation and fight climate change.

The bank has already had 20 requests from countries in Latin America, the Congo Basin and East Asia to take part in the new Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which has a total target fund of US$300m.

The facility is intended to prevent deforestation by compensating developing countries for carbon dioxide reductions realised by maintaining their forests.

It will support programmes targeting the causes of deforestation and develop activities to reach out to poor people who depend on forests to improve their livelihoods, as well as helping countries develop technical, regulatory and sustainable forestry capacity to reduce emissions from deforestation.

The FCPF is divided in two parts – the Readiness Fund (US$10-100m) which will provide grants to support techical assistance to 20 developing nations, and the Carbon Fund (US$20-200m), which will focus on emission reductions in about five participating countries.

The FCPF has ben approved by the World’s Bank board of executive directors and is expected to be officially launched by the bank’s group president Robert Zoellick in December during the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Indonesia.

Emissions from deforestation and degradation are estimated to account for about 18-25% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.