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Rewarding communities for keeping their forests standing

What is REDD+?

REDD+ is shorthand for ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’. The concept of REDD+ originated in discussions among signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This mechanism – which is continually evolving – creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to avoid emissions and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. In other words, REDD+ is designed to reward governments and communities for keeping their forests standing and intact.

It is estimated that deforestation and forest degradation may account for up to 25% of global carbon emissions. Even the most conservative estimates put the figure at 15%. Either way, this represents a significant contribution to global warming and, as such, warrants close attention in any serious discussions on the most effective ways to minimise the impacts of climate change.

How does REDD+ work?

REDD+ gives forests a dollar value based on how much carbon they contain, and the money generated from the sale of so-called carbon credits (basically, permits to emit a defined amount of carbon) is reinvested in the communities that have elected not to destroy their forests.

This has the double benefit of preventing the release of more so-called greenhouse gases while simultaneously safeguarding the forest biodiversity and ecosystem services on which local communities – and ultimately all of us – depend for survival.

Top down & bottom up

REDD+ is being developed through a combination of top-down (jurisdictional) approaches, spearheaded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the national governments that have signed up to the treaty, allied with bottom-up, project-based initiatives that focus on 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 & REDD+

Fauna & Flora has been at the forefront of REDD+ efforts on the ground for well over a decade. We occupy the niche that plays to our strengths in working alongside our partners – including investors, national and sub-national governments, local NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and communities – to develop practical conservation solutions.

Our interventions build on a long history of cooperation with host country partners, enabling Fauna & Flora to develop innovative and high-quality REDD+ initiatives. We are always responsive to local needs, tailoring our approach to the specific demands of a particular location.

Watch our video explaining carbon markets and REDD+.

Fauna & Flora’s blueprint for REDD+ success

We are working to establish fully operational REDD+ projects in several of the countries where we have extensive experience. In Liberia, for example, Fauna & Flora is leading the development of the country’s first REDD+ project, integrating community incentives for sustainable forest management with gazettement of a strategically vital protected area. A critical site for the conservation of the Upper Guinean Forest, the project not only protects the habitat of threatened species such as the pygmy hippo, but also helps to ensure that local communities benefit from their forests.

Fauna & Flora’s team of forest carbon and socio-economic specialists supports our field teams in identifying, developing and implementing REDD+ projects in line with leading carbon standards, including the Verified Carbon Standard, Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards and the Plan Vivo Standard. This work offers important lessons about the practical realities of implementing REDD+ on the ground.

Putting rights front & centre

The idea is that money generated through the sale of carbon credits from these REDD+ projects should be invested in those actually responsible for enlightened forest stewardship. In practice, given the governance challenges faced by tropical forest-rich countries worldwide, figuring out where the money should be directed is no simple task. The long-term success of REDD+ is therefore inextricably tied to efforts to improve forest governance. This includes addressing land tenure rights uncertainties, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, undoing the perverse incentives contained in many forest and land management regulations, and improving transparency.

Benefits of Fauna & Flora involvement in REDD+

  • New funding for conservation: 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: protect and enhance areas of strategic importance for biodiversity through long-term conservation management made possible with access to carbon finance.
  • Community benefits: 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.
  • Best practice: apply conservation and socio-economic expertise to the design and implementation of REDD+ projects in order to ensure compliance with the highest industry standards.
  • Proof of concept: demonstrate the practicability of REDD+ through innovative field projects, troubleshooting problems we encounter and learning from experience.
  • Learning & policy guidance: channel learning from field projects to support national and global learning and policy development with a particular focus on the importance of biodiversity and socio-economic approaches to REDD+.
  • Payment by results: REDD+ reflects a move towards performance-based funding for conservation, a move that Fauna & Flora supports to ensure that limited resources for conservation are deployed as effectively and efficiently as possible.