Sunday, December 19, 2010

Turn REDD on its head

James Mayers in the "Sustainable Markets" page of the International Institute for Environment and Development website: National REDD strategies must be based on local, not government, control, say opinion leaders from ten countries in the IIED-facilitated Forest Governance Learning Group. Argument about REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) was raging in Mozambique as well as Mexico last week. By the weekend the climate negotiators in Cancun had come up with an outline agreement on REDD — a useful step and a bigger one than looked likely two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, I was in Mozambique among 40 people from ten countries grappling with the practical realities of REDD. We came to talk with the Madjajane and Goba communities about their forests and then continued to debate and plan our future work in the small town of Namaacha. We agreed that if you set out to invent the perfect mechanism to counter the forces that destroy or degrade forests — the chainsaws, bulldozers, drinks in the bar and grease on the palms of those making forest-trashing business deals — you would not come up with REDD (or even its more people-friendly variants REDD+ and REDD++). REDD is about reducing emissions, not managing forests sustainably and improving people’s lives.

But the prospect of unprecedented funding through REDD is enticing — it could bring more money than ever before for doing useful things for forests. The hooks for making governance more accountable are also exciting — the money must be tracked and the emission reductions credibly verified. We need to help shape these programmes so that they do the right thing by forest management and livelihoods.

All the lessons learnt from the past thirty years of effort in many countries to try and sustainably manage forests while improving livelihoods point to the fundamental need for local decision making power. This means that communities and the rightful individual owners of forest land must have secure tenure and be able to run viable enterprises based on sustainably managing their forest assets….

Bamboo and ferns in a Peruvian rainforest, shot by Tadd and Debbie Ottman, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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