REDD+, -the forest grab of all times?

Project summary

Forests play an important role for the livelihoods of poor people in developing countries. Yet, the poor often lack legal rights to the forest resources that they depend on. This renders them highly vulnerable to loss of access and displacement when valuable forest resources attract the interest of more powerful parties. In recent years forests’ ability to take up and store carbon has emerged as a new forest commodity as the international community attempts to reduce global CO2 emissions through REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Although REDD+ operates with social safeguards there is a risk that local communities will lose access and rights to forests, especially because of the frequent existence of competing legal and customary rights of different stakeholders to the same forest. Furthermore, inequalities within communities may be heightened as some people manage to take advantage of new opportunities while others lose out. The project will investigate how REDD+ influences regulations and access to forest resources, the way compensation for foregone benefits is awarded, and to what degree local monitoring of carbon stocks and livelihood impacts of REDD+ can be used as a tool to empower local communities and help secure their rights in the face of REDD+.


Project Completion Report:

Thirty peer-reviewed scientific papers has been published in international journals. Moreover, nine scientific papers have been published in national journals, mostly Open Access. In addition four book chapters has been published, one policy brief was presented at COP17, and one at an internaitonal meeting in Hanoi. Twenty-one co-authored presentations have been made at international conferences and meetings. This has allowed the research results to be publicly available and distributed at a wide range of fora. Senior research staff have become members of national REDD+ agencies, and technical REDD+ working groups on social safeguards, one senior staff is adviser to the President of Indonesia. Several TV programs and YouTube videos have been produced based on knowledge provided by the project. Proceedings from the project are available on project homepage.

Brief popularized abstract: 

The purpose of the project was to; i) explore mechanisms to safeguard local people’s rights in relation to REDD+ and ii) assess whether community based monitoring of carbon and livelihoods promotes local decision-making and protection of forests. Results show that the REDD+ readiness phase has been slow and has fallen short of expectations. The actual practices differ from general ideas about REDD+ due to ongoing conflicts over forest and contestations over the meaning of justice. REDD+ efforts and funds have been concentrated at the central level while limited funds reach the provincial and district level. Ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and marginalised local communities are largely left out in the design and implementation of REDD+. Dwindling donor commitment and the collapse of prices in both the conventional and voluntary carbon markets jeopardize for the future of REDD+ based on market-based payments for monitored and verified carbon emissions offset. However, community based monitoring of carbon and livelihoods were found to promote local involvement in decision-making and safeguarding of local forest rights and access.

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