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Research Report

REDD+ at the crossroads: Choices and tradeoffs for 2015–2020 in Laos

Michael B. Dwyer
Micah Ingalls
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 50
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-3)

    Efforts to link climate change mitigation to improved forest management in the global south have been difficult from the start. Initially avoided deforestation was deliberately left out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process because it threatened to both sidestep the problem of reducing emissions in the global north and create “moral hazards” when it came to paying people not to do something. Then, when the project currently known as REDD+ did eventually emerge – first through the proposal to reduce emissions from deforestation, then from adding degradation to the equation, and finally through including carbon...

  2. (pp. 4-7)

    This paper uses projects rather than policy as the entry point into policy-level choices and tradeoffs for REDD in Laos. As noted above, the REDD policy landscape in Laos has been reviewed in a number of good studies recently (Chokkalingam 2010; Fujisaki 2012; Lestrelin et al. 2013; Chokkalingam and Phanvilay 2015; also see Eickhoff et al. 2012; MAF 2012). These authors emphasize many of the same issues examined at the project level here, and note the importance of future decisions in clarifying uncertainties that exist about, among other things, oversight and coordination at various levels and sectors of government, methodology...

  3. (pp. 8-12)

    Like many other countries in Southeast Asia, Laos has a substantial area of its territory classified administratively as forest. As in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, forest in the administrative sense may or may not be forested biophysically, despite frequent slippage in everyday and official use. It is therefore important to differentiate forest in the biophysical sense (however defined) from the forest estate or, as referred to here, administrative or political forest. Laos’s forest estate is of relatively recent creation compared to many of its counterparts in the region. While predicated on the doctrine of state ownership that underlies a...

  4. (pp. 13-19)

    REDD is an explicitly spatial process. Like most natural resource management interventions, it addresses questions of not just what and how, but questions of where. Dealing with these requires access to spatially specific information which is sometimes difficult to get. It also requires decisions which carry a variety of spatial implications, both socially and ecologically. While REDD may be a win–win solution for global climate change in the abstract, addressing particular drivers of deforestation and degradation means describing and engaging the spaces in which these occur locally and regionally. This can have substantial tradeoffs when it comes to the...

  5. (pp. 20-24)

    As the CliPAD project rescaled itself from “project” scale to JNR, it also relocated its target activities from those focused on the NEPL NPA to roughly 70 villages in Hua Meuang and (after Xayabouri plans fell through) Sam Neua districts. In moving toward the protected area’s southeastern flank (see Figure 2 for reference), the project moved away from a significant but potentially (politically) difficult source of deforestation and/or forest degradation: the “heavy illegal logging, especially for rosewood trees,” that was occurring in the “southwestern section of the NPA” (Moore et al. 2012, 46). As in the Xe Pian case described...

  6. (pp. 25-27)

    As elsewhere in Southeast Asia (and indeed throughout the world), property in Laos remains an area of significant contestation. This reflects not only the widespread conflict between de facto and legal norms of landownership (a fact widely noted by scholars and development practitioners), but also a significant, although lesser-known debate about what Lao law actually says. These two sets of conflicts wind their way through the REDD landscape in Laos at both the project and policy level, and highlight the extent to which questions of fundamental importance to REDD hinge on a series of larger governance issues.

    It is common...

  7. (pp. 28-33)

    As REDD has gotten closer to the ground, it has looked less and less like the efficient offset mechanism imagined back in the mid-2000s (Stern 2006) and more and more like a serious effort to engage fundamental questions of economic development. Can the urgencies of climate change provide a way to weaken the historically tight linkage between deforestation and development in poor countries? Can infrastructure building and resource use in these countries be made more sustainable, and is it possible to measure the impacts of improvement efforts? Can existing forest tenure insecurity be alleviated in a way that local communities...