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Research Report

Making REDD+ work for communities and forests:: three shared lessons for project designers

Steve Ball
Jasper Makala
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2014
Pages: 24
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 4-5)

    Forests are vital for people and environments. They lock up carbon, conserve biodiversity, protect watershed services and provide food, fibre, energy, timber and medicine.¹ They are the cultural heritage of millions of people. Yet carbon lost through deforestation and forest degradation could contribute as much as one fifth of humankind’s global greenhouse gas emissions.²

    Developed by many initiatives including the UN-REDD programme, and funded through carbon offset schemes, REDD+ scheme aims to offer financial incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (the REDD bit), and for promoting conservation and sustainable forest management that enhances forest carbon stocks (the...

  2. (pp. 6-8)

    Kilwa district is in the Lindi region of southeastern Tanzania (see Figure 1). The region is sparsely populated, with abundant forest and timber resources. Most people are very poor. They make a living from subsistence agriculture and depend heavily on the region’s forests.

    The forests are a mix of East African coastal forests (a biodiversity hotspot) and miombo woodlands. Miombo is one of the major dry forest-savannah biomes of the world. It covers much of southern Africa and is the single largest vegetation type in East Africa.

    The Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI) was founded in 2004. It focuses...

  3. (pp. 9-12)

    Many forests in southern Tanzania are degraded or heavily degraded⁸ and in recent years, uncontrolled logging and timber trade has surged in Kilwa, in part due to improved transport links with the capital Dar es Salaam.⁶ Charcoal is widely used in Tanzania, particularly in urban areas, and demand from Dar es Salaam is growing.

    We felt there was a clear, long-term conservation argument for showing that local communities can make money from forests in other ways. So we wrote a REDD+ project proposal based on the assumption that the biggest local driver of deforestation would be charcoal production. Our plan...

  4. (pp. 13-15)

    A lot of attention on REDD+ has focused on an anticipated international regulated market (accessible only to national governments) under a successor to the Kyoto protocol: essentially opening up the Clean Development Mechanism to include REDD+. However, international negotiations have largely stalled despite some progress on REDD+ at UNFCCC COP19 in Warsaw (November 2013). As yet there is no regulated market for carbon payments — only voluntary markets.

    International voluntary carbon markets aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as cheaply as possible, subject to various policy constraints. For example a European power plant may find it cheaper to offset...

  5. (pp. 16-17)

    For the project to go ahead, we needed to obtain the communities’ free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). We saw the importance of an FPIC process, so one of our earliest activities was awareness raising about REDD+ and payments for carbon offsets.

    This seemed a sensible way to start engaging with local communities, because our initial understanding was that once the communities committed to protecting the forests, we could start claiming carbon offsets. To demonstrate this commitment, we developed a contract with the communities outlining what project activities they would do.

    This turned out to be a really difficult challenge...

  6. (pp. 18-19)

    Our motivation for producing this issue of Gatekeeper is to share our experience with a wider audience. Our main lesson is that the peculiar demands of REDD+ call for an extended project design phase. Even if stakeholder pressure favours early project activities ‘on the ground’ it is important to check out the fundamentals and assess project feasibility as rigorously as possible before starting on other activities.

    At the beginning of this design phase, project implementers need to have the confidence to make ‘back of an envelope’ estimates of key variables to get a clear picture of what is actually driving...