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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+)

Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI.
Written by: Josh Kempinski
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REDD+ refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation; the ‘plus’ goes beyond the basic structure of REDD+ to include forest conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ offers financial incentives for developing countries to reduce carbon emissions from forests. Between 15-25% of global carbon emissions are attributed to deforestation – a significant contribution to climate change.

Essentially, REDD+ gives standing forests a dollar value according to the amount of carbon they contain (measured and verified in ‘carbon credits’). This carbon would be released if the forest were to be destroyed.

REDD+ is an evolving mechanism which is being developed through a mix of top-down approaches, spearheaded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with state level governments alongside bottom-up project-based approaches based in forest areas under threat. Top-down or jurisdictional approaches to REDD+ architecture need to be matched against grounded lessons from real world projects around the globe; both levels are critical for REDD+ to be effective.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been at the forefront of grounded REDD+ efforts. FFI’s niche in REDD+ combines a century of practical conservation work with local partners in over 40 countries with in-house technical expertise.

For the past five years FFI has invested in developing a portfolio of REDD+ projects across six countries to test and help develop REDD+ instruments for global application. We work with a wide range of partners, from investors, national and sub-national governments, to local NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

FFI’s team of forest carbon and socio-economic specialists support our field teams to identify, develop and implement REDD+ projects in line with leading carbon standards, including the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards and Plan Vivo Standards. This work offers important lessons about the practical realities of implementing REDD+ on the ground.

The money generated by the sale of carbon credits from these REDD+ projects is intended to be invested in the actors responsible for ensuring that forests remain standing. Socio-economic and ecological benefits are also of critical importance. Given the governance challenges faced by tropical forest-rich countries worldwide, figuring out where the money should be directed is not a simple task. REDD+ is thus inextricably tied to efforts to improve forest governance. This includes addressing land tenure rights uncertainties – especially for Indigenous Peoples and local communities; undoing the perverse incentives contained in many forest and land management regulations; and improving transparency.

FFI sees a number of important benefits of being involved in REDD+:

  • New funding for conservation: To secure finance for priority conservation activities through the development of projects capable of long-term revenue regeneration through access to the carbon market.
  • Securing habitats: To protect and enhance areas of strategic importance for biodiversity through long-term conservation management made possible with the access to carbon finance.
  • Community benefits: To strengthen land tenure security and community natural resource governance and to shift the economic base from one that is predominantly extractive to one that is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable.
  • Highest standards and continual improvement: To apply conservation and socio-economic expertise to the design and implementation of REDD+ projects to ensure highest standards are achieved. We are actively involved in utilising and contributing towards the continued improvement of leading REDD+ standards including the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standard; and the Plan Vivo Standard.
  • Proof of concept: To demonstrate REDD+ at an operational level through innovative field projects, troubleshooting problems we encounter and ‘learning from doing’.
  • Learning & policy guidance: To channel learning from field projects to support national and global learning and policy development around REDD+ with a particular focus on the importance of biodiversity and socio-economic approaches to REDD+.
  • Performance based: REDD+ reflects a move towards performance-based funding for conservation, a move that FFI supports to ensure that limited resources for conservation are deployed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Our interventions build on a long history of cooperation with host country partners, enabling FFI to develop innovative and high quality REDD+ interventions globally. We are always responsive to local needs and this means we are taking a bespoke approach to each location, ranging from large commercially linked projects to Community Carbon Pool initiatives designed to support local communities to sustainably manage their forest.

FFI’s REDD+ project profiles and policy briefing documents are available on our REDD+ Resource page.

Written by
Josh Kempinski

After completing an Ecological Management MSc at Imperial College, Josh moved to Vietnam, where he lived and worked for 7 years. In 2010, after 10+ years focusing on species conservation and protected area management, mostly with Fauna & Flora International, Josh moved into the emerging field of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). In his new role, Josh contributed to Vietnam’s REDD+ ‘Preparation Idea Note’, which helped release $3.5m from the World Bank for REDD+ ‘readiness’. He went on to design Vietnam's first sub-national REDD+ pilot, which is currently in its first – project-based – phase. More recently, Josh has worked in Liberia, co-authoring/editing the county’s REDD+ Readiness Plan for the World Bank, and has provided technical oversight to the development of Liberia’s first (and only) fully operational REDD+ pilot. Josh sees project-level REDD+ as framework for developing financially sustainable, equitable and locally managed protected areas; both formal reserves or national parks, or as community forests.

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