New book on REDD+ on the ground to be presented at COP20 side event

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4 December 2014
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By Kate Evans, originally published at Forests News

From the Amazon forests of Peru and Brazil, to the Congo Basin and Tanzania, to Vietnam and Indonesian Borneo, more than 300 initiatives have emerged in the past five years experimenting with the idea of REDD+.

That’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation—an initiative to tackle climate change by keeping carbon locked in standing forests.

The idea of paying people in developing tropical countries to protect their forests, generating carbon credits, and selling them on an international carbon market, gained prominence at the 2007 UN climate change summit in Bali.

It generated excitement and funding—and controversy. By 2009, REDD+ pilot projects were being set up across the tropics.

A group of scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) set out to independently analyze 23 of these diverse initiatives. Lessons from the first stage of that research is explained in a new book, “REDD+ on the Ground: A case book of subnational initiatives across the globe.”

Forests News recently spoke with Erin Sills, a Senior Associate at CIFOR and the lead editor of the book. An edited transcript of the interview follows.


“REDD+ on the Ground” editor William Sunderlin of CIFOR will share results from the book at an official COP20 side event in Lima, 5 December. Click here for details.

REDD+ is also the topic of several sessions at the Global Landscapes Forum, 6-7 December, also in Lima.


Question: What can it tell us about REDD+ to bring the stories of these 23 initiatives all together in one book?

Answer: The first point is the heterogeneity of initiatives. REDD+ has been thought of as equivalent to payments for environmental services (PES). You sell credits in a market—which doesn’t yet exist—and you pass that cash on to local people, if they stop deforesting as verified through remote sensing.

But on the ground, there’s actually a very wide variation around that, and not very many initiatives that are anywhere in that narrow space of PES funded by a carbon market.

They’re getting funding from different sources—carbon funding, yes, but also many other sources—bundling all the different benefits you can get from forest conservation. And they’re pursuing all sorts of different strategies on the ground to reduce different sources of emissions.

Degradation is really important in Tanzania. Fire is important there too, as well as in the peatlands of Kalimantan. Smallholder agriculture is the main driver in some places, and in others it’s about blocking the entry of large external agents like cattle ranchers or palm oil companies.

That’s important for people to grasp as we’re thinking about what the future of REDD is going to be—this variation reflects what proponents have done in response to the prospect of getting funding to reduce deforestation emissions.

They set out within the context of their other concerns about biodiversity or local livelihoods, to think about the best way to accomplish this end goal of reducing emissions, and they came up with lots of different strategies.

And to my mind they’re probably better placed to know what will work on the ground, where they’re operating, than people who are conceptualizing REDD+ in theory and at the central level.

We need the theory of REDD+ because we need it to work globally, but we also need to take on board these local lessons from people who really know the local context, and based on that understanding, have decided on the best way to proceed within the constraints of available funding.

Read the full blog here

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