REDD+ highlights tenure problems, but does not solve them

Preparations for a proposed international scheme to pay local users to cut greenhouse gas emissions through reduced deforestation are directing more attention to forest tenure problems — but they do not solve them, researchers have found.

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is a mechanism being developed under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradationcreating a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, incentivizing sustainable management of forested lands in order to reduce emissions.

“REDD+ may lead to improvements in some project areas, but it has not brought fundamental change, and at this point it appears unlikely to do so,” said Anne Larson, a principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Larson led the publication of “Land tenure and REDD+: The good, the bad and the ugly,” a recent paper based on a study of 22 REDD+ pilot projects in 71 villages spread over six countries: Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Literature referenced in the paper has established that proposed payments for additional carbon sequestration through forest conservation under REDD+ “require not only clear rights to land but also the ability to demonstrate exclusion rights, which includes the right and means to prevent third parties from changing land cover”.

This means that before a community, company or state body can receive money to keep trees standing, it must be able to prove that it owns the forest and can keep others from cutting it down.

CIFOR scientists tried to verify whether projects that have started to experiment with REDD+ met this prerequisite, or addressed it successfully where tenure was weak.

“The findings suggest that in most cases REDD+ has clearly provided some new opportunities for securing local tenure rights, but that piecemeal interventions by project proponents at the local level are insufficient in the absence of broader, national programs for land tenure reform,” they wrote.

For the complete article, please see Center for International Forestry Research.