Community Forestry and REDD+ in Nepal
Reducing the rate and extent of tropical forest loss is a critical component of climate change mitigation efforts. A global agreement to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) seeks to transfer funds from developed countries to developing countries such as Nepal in exchange for verifiable emissions reductions. Consequently, Nepal is currently engaged in the challenging task of designing and implementing REDD+ strategies that are effective, efficient, and equitable. Nepal has a historic and successful Community Forestry management system in place that may contribute to potential REDD+ architectures.
This study uses a literature review and interviews with twenty stakeholders involved in REDD+ planning and research in Nepal to assess how REDD+ can be implemented through Community Forestry and to identify any gaps that need to be addressed before implementation. We interviewed individuals in government and civil society in order to identify knowledge and perceptions regarding these issues, and whether that knowledge would support, expand on, or conflict with available literature. This approach allowed us to analyze a spectrum of perspectives among respondents involved in developing REDD+ architectures, and the mechanisms needed to effectively, efficiently, and equitably implement REDD+.
We show that congruity existed among the answers provided by respondents but that problems regarding undecided REDD+ policies and stakeholder engagement remain. Issues that remain unresolved include a lack of institutional capacity for monitoring forests and for distributing payments at all governance levels; insufficient stakeholder engagement in REDD+ planning; the exclusion of non-Community Forest forestry regimes through REDD+ piloting; and land tenure conflicts that will require extensive further research and multi-stakeholder problem-solving before REDD+ moves forward in Nepal. Should these issues be addressed, we conclude that REDD+ could use existing Community Forestry institutions to bring equitable co-benefits and increased carbon storage to Nepal.