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With REDD and REDD+ gaining importance in international environmental law and policy discussions, this article reviews the fragmented strands of binding international law touching on forests to trace the evolution of these issues in international law. It examines the regulation of (a) trees as a commodity, (b) trees as endangered species, (c) forests as a tool to combat desertification, (d) forests and biological diversity and (e) forests as a tool to address climate change. The analysis suggests that the current approach to climate and forests monetizes forests, which is an approach that is reminiscent of colonial treatment of forests, even though the objectives and approaches are very different.