REDD+ should better embrace forest values - land policy think tank

Investments in agricultural research and development, including agroforestry and community forestry, are important for maintaining the livelihoods of many forest-dependent people in developing countries and should not be overlooked in the REDD+ debate, according to a working paper by the land policy think tank, the Lincoln Institute.

The Lincoln Institute paper assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the current global environmental policy and aid architecture, relating to mitigating carbon emissions, specifically policies relating to reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

The paper notes that the focus of REDD+ has largely remained on forest carbon storage as a mitigation strategy, but this should be broadened to include other forest values, including biodiversity, watershed protection, forest production, income generation, social and cultural values.

Sufficient and sustainable emissions reductions require this broader focus, the paper suggests. Attention needs to be paid to the conversion of land to agriculture and to other uses and to many underlying issues related to REDD+ involving diverse forest and agricultural lands and the large number of people who live around forests in degraded or marginally forested areas and are dependent on natural resources.

Households in these areas face multiple insecurities including loss of biodiversity, fuelwood, water, and other resources on which they have traditionally depended. Among other things, investments in agricultural research and development and adaptation, including in agroforestry and community forestry, are needed to help those people secure livelihoods until growth in the rest of the economy can absorb them.

Other propositions supported by the paper are that REDD+ must be complemented by carbon emission mitigation in “brown” sectors in all countries, and that mitigation in developing countries alone risks being a disincentive to mitigation in developed countries.

Read the paper here.