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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.

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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