While negotiations on the nuts and bolts of REDD+ at the UNFCCC COP18 may not have progressed as hoped, REDD+ itself remains one of the most concrete mechanisms through which to provide funding for land-based carbon. As an earlier post on the Landscapes Blog noted, REDD+ also represents an opportunity for promoting non-carbon benefits of forests and tying in agriculture. And while there are some hesitations to including agriculture as anything but a driver of deforestation in the REDD+ mechanism, many at this year’s climate change negotiations raised the profile of this intersection and the possibility of future inclusion of other land uses in REDD+.
During a session on Forests in a Cultivated Planet at Forest Day 6, Andreas Tveteraas (Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative) argued that success with REDD+ is not possible without agriculture – “if a government ever has to choose between feeding its people and saving a forest, forests will always lose.” But it’s an interesting two-way street. Yes, agriculture and forests both need to be part of the REDD+ discussion, and understanding the land use context across a landscape is critical to successful design of REDD+. At the same time, REDD+ activities already taking place can facilitate the implementation of whole landscape management approaches that also deliver food security.
A common theme during COP18 was that it is more efficient and effective to build on what is already in place. In the context of larger landscape and land use governance systems, it is important for REDD+ to coordinate with existing structures and stakeholders, which are often connected to agricultural development. Working with, rather than in addition to, local interests will help build synergies. In terms of funding, taking a landscape approach to REDD+ can help add other financing sources (e.g. for agricultural development) to relatively paltry carbon funds. REDD+ can also be used as a catalytic source of finance that connects across sectors (see blog post on smallholder finance from last week). Aligning forest and land use policies is also more feasible at a landscape scale.
But REDD+ also has another thing going for it. In an interview at COP18, Jonah Busch (Conservation International) argued that “REDD+ is setting up a fantastic infrastructure for carbon payments” that could then be used to incorporate other services beyond carbon. It creates a platform that sets a foundation to provide funding, monitor impacts, and clarify and strengthen tenure issues, all of which are important for realizing other benefits from REDD+. Moreover, it provides a predictable structure that can be part of a larger national green growth strategy.
Finally, in all of this and as we continue along this week’s theme of connecting to the ‘local’, it is important that benefits from REDD+ are experienced at the local level. In the Maë-Ndombe landscape in DRC, slash-and-burn agriculture, cattle ranging, and firewood collection drive deforestation. The Maë-Ndombe project, led by WWF, took on a participatory process to involve the community not only in land use planning and management, but also in monitoring forest activities. From this exercise, it was evident that successful REDD+ implementation requires linking the local needs with the national and global, and integrating interests of stakeholders across sectors.
Integrating Agendas for Forests, Agriculture and Climate Change Mitigation: Rationale and Recommendations for Landscape Strategies, National Policy and International Climate Action. Ecoagriculture Discussion Paper no.7
Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests, and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives. IUFRO World Series Vol. 31. – Presented at Forest Day 6