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Governing the forests: an institutional analysis of REDD+ and community forest management in Asia

This report examines the history, structure and monitoring mechanisms of REDD+ to better understand how it impacts upon, and interacts with, Community Forest Management (CFM). It presents case studies of CFM and REDD+ governance from Bangladesh, Indonesia and India, and concludes with some lessons learned.

REDD+ is an example of multilevel governance that uses a variety of institutional structures and processes aimed at promoting sustainable management of forests, including financial incentives to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. At the national level, countries have their own systems of governance, often jointly managed by multiple interests, including CFM. Having given an overview of REDD+ itself, the paper explores how REDD+ influences and reacts to local circumstances.

The case studies feature different aspects of CFM and REDD+ governance. The paper highlights the emerging role of CFM in reducing carbon emissions in Bangladesh, presents lessons from the implementation of a public/private partnership in Indonesia and explores indigenous carbon management practices in India.

Conclusions drawn from the case studies on challenges and implications for REDD+ governance include the following.

  • The role of forest stocks in international regimes requires clarification; forest stocks must be managed in ways that incentivise communities and governments to avoid deforestation and degradation, whilst remaining sensitive to the needs of forest-dependent communities.
  • Local government capacity must be sufficiently strengthened so as to provide support in connecting local and global governance.
  • There is a need to link carbon management with local practices and economic activities; community forums should be established to allow all stakeholders to collaborate and explore strategies that harness local opportunities for income diversification.
  • Issues of land tenure and carbon rights must be clarified and strengthened to provide lasting security to forest-dependent communities.
  • Monitoring, reporting and verifying the participation of all stakeholders requires greater effort and resources.
  • Protocols are required for resolving ecological problems and dispute settlements; interaction should be more informal and decisions made by consensus rather than majority rule.