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USAID Research and Analysis of Carbon Rights and Institutional Mechanisms for REDD+ Benefit Distribution

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
October 19th, 2011
Publisher Name: 
Ecosystem Marketplace
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While a number of researchers and organizations in the US and internationally have highlighted the potential impacts of mitigation efforts on tenure, there remains minimal information and best practice on how to practically address these issues at the field level. Emerging interventions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) pose potential opportunities and risks for the rights of rural populations in developing countries. In many countries, the right of local populations to benefit from REDD+ activities requires further clarification. As a result, there are lessons to be learned from countries that are progressing on REDD+ or have experience with payment for environmental services (PES). PRRGP’s work on REDD+ over the past ten months has examined 1) trends and opportunities for the devolution of rights to local populations; 2) how tenure relates to the right to benefit from REDD+ revenues, and 3) early experiences with and best practices on governance systems for benefit distribution.

Framework papers have been developed on each of these topics, as well as provide insights from country case studies in Indonesia, Nepal, Mozambique, Mexico, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The work has resulted in the development of two tools related to a carbon rights guidebook and an analytical tool for assessing benefit distribution institutions which will be released in the coming months. 

Working papers are available on:

About 80 percent of the forested area of the developing world is held under public ownership. Many critics of state ownership argue that public stewardship of forests has been poor, pointing to high rates deforestation on land owned and administered by governments. These criticisms have given rise to a movement by governments, international development organizations, forest policy researchers, environmental groups, and among forest communities themselves in support of the devolution of forests rights from governments to communities, families, and individuals. Advocates of forest rights devolution argue that forests will more likely be managed sustainably and the livelihoods of forest communities will be more secure where a greater share of use, management, and other rights to forests are in the hands of people who live and work in and near forests.

This paper examines 16 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that either have undertaken policy reforms to devolve a substantial number of forest rights to communities or that appear to have the potential to do so in the near future. Recognizing that one party rarely holds all tenure rights to a given resource, this paper uses a ―bundle of rights‖ framework to examine the mix of rights governments have typically devolved to communities and individuals, as well as what rights are retained by governments. Rights most typically devolved to communities include clearer use, management, and marketing rights, as well as longer duration of use rights and the right to exclude potential resource claimants not associated with the principal user community. Governments tend to retain the right to alienate land; that is, communities are not allowed to sell their land. The right of communities to restrict and regulate the use of local resources by persons not considered bona fide community members was found to be an important pre-condition to community efforts to regulate successfully forest use among their own members. Having control of resources can provide impetus to development of sound forest management rules and conventions by communities, but successful community management is not assured.

***Working Papers and presentations on each of the framework papers are accessible here

Feedback on the working papers is welcome and can be delivered to: matt.sommerville@tetratech.com


Extpub | by Dr. Radut