Lessons Learned from Community Forestry & REDD+ in Brazil
Designing a successful REDD+ strategy is complex, in part because it deals with the intricacies of changing economic incentives and human behaviors toward forests – and toward land in general. That’s where community forestry can play an important role.
Various tropical countries have demonstrated that the effective decentralization of forest management rights and responsibilities, when combined with long-term support of local communities, can lead to better management of forest resources. REDD+ can foster decentralization of forest management rights and responsibilities. (REDD+ refers to all activities covered by the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, plus the conservation of forest carbon stocks, the sustainable management of forests, and the increased enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.)
South-South exchanges provide opportunities for policy makers to experience how their counterparts in other countries have tackled similar challenges and discover new ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emerging REDD+ strategies.
In the new publication REDD+ and Community Forestry: Lessons Learned from an Exchange of Brazilian Experiences with Africa, experts describe the lessons learned from an initiative by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to share Brazilian experiences with African countries. The initiative was undertaken by World Bank staff with funding from the Global Environment Facility and coordinated by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, with technical support from the Office National des Forêts International.
The 10-day knowledge exchange in Brazil included policy makers and experts from five countries in the Congo Basin — Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo — and Madagascar, in February 2011.
“This knowledge exchange initiative comes at a strategic moment for the participating countries, as they design national strategies to address the causes of deforestation and forest degradation,” said André Aquino, co-author and forest carbon expert at the World Bank. “African countries can benefit from the Brazilian experience of decentralizing forest management to communities and of using innovative systems of payments for ecosystem services. Brazil, in turn, can learn from the Congo Basin’s experiences with managing forest concessions.”
The new publication brings together information, analyses, and conclusions on issues relevant to the design and implementation of national REDD+ strategies. It aims to foster a discussion on the role of community forest management as a strategic option to promote REDD+ goals, and, conversely, on ways that REDD+ can incentivize community management of forests.
The report's main conclusions include:
- REDD+ initiatives need to be integrated with sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, including forestry, agriculture, infrastructure, and environmental policies.
- Support for long-term capacity building and financing are key elements for the success of REDD+ initiatives.
- Community-based forest management plays a very important role in reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
- Forests should managed through participatory processes that empower indigenous peoples and local populations in decision making.
- Measurement, reporting and verification are key elements of REDD+ initiatives, and South-South cooperation plays an important role in increasing their efficiency and effectiveness.
- Cooperation and exchange of experiences with Brazil could provide important support for REDD+ development in Africa.
“This South-South exchange trip has been a very rich experience,” said Ifo Aware Suspense, climate focal point for Congo Brazzaville. “It allowed us, on the one hand, to see the technological advances that Brazil has made in monitoring forest cover and on the other, to see how local people in the states we visited in the North are involved in safeguarding the forests.”
Victor Kabengele Wa Kadilu, projects coordinator for the Ministry of Environment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said: “The Brazilian experience of empowering forest communities to manage their resources and create value from that is highly relevant for my country, the DRC, where some field experiences are underway and the new legislation on community forest management is being discussed.”