Governing the Forests: An Institutional Analysis of REDD+ and Community Forest Management in Asia



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REDD+ has become an important component in the discussions on climate change and forest governance, but there is further need to understand the linkages with local governance and the challenges for its implementation. This joint report aims to serve as a useful reference for policy makers, professionals and practitioners as they work to promote REDD+ in ways that tackle climate change and biodiversity loss but also respect concerns and listen to the voice of local stakeholders.

REDD+ addresses the problem of climate change through a variety of institutional structures and processes aimed at encouraging the sustainable management of tropical forests, and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Forest users are provided with a financial incentive to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, and REDD+ can be interpreted as an example of payments for ecosystem services (PES). At the national level, countries have their own systems of forest governance, including community forest management (CFM). Forests are often jointly managed by multiple interests, and can be referred to as common-pool resources. Communities that rely on these forests also have a range of rights and benefit-sharing arrangements regarding these resources. 

Given this complexity of relationships, it is important to understand how the governance of REDD+ itself both impacts on, and is affected by, local circumstances. Concerns about governance have led to calls for REDD+ to be rendered more effective through improved design. Of particular concern is the need for effective monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV). In the context of REDD+, MRV is normally seen as relating largely to carbon accounting and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; however, in the context of forest governance, it also concerns the participation of interested parties in decisions regarding the sharing of benefits arising from PES, and overall forest management. This policy report explores three examples of CFM in Asia, in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. Each has different systems of forest governance, with varying degrees of community management and success. Local systems will be a key to the successful outcome of any global efforts for carbon payment schemes in developing countries. The challenges confronting these case studies, and the implications for REDD+ governance, are discussed in the conclusion.