Monday, February 3, 2014

Community Forestry and REDD+ in Latin America

A recent publication “Lessons Learned from Community Forestry in Latin America and their Relevance for REDD+” by the Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities assessed decades of community forestry in the region and the significance for REDD+. Community forestry recognises the rights of communities to establish and enforce rules governing forest use and access and has been particularly successful in the Latin American region.

Some key findings from community forestry for REDD+ included:

Empowerment of Communities: The recognition of the rights and responsibilities of communities to establish and enforce rules regarding forest access and use, which is supported by tenure rights and clear legal frameworks for communities. Suitable approaches to empower communities include free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and tools such as community protocols which can put communities in the driving seat and create conditions for “doing”.

Governance and Stakeholder Engagement: Self-generated community institutions are generally more effective and should be encouraged. Supportive sectorial polies in areas such as agriculture and macroeconomics are important as are reforms that empower communities. Identifying and applying legal instruments that empower, promoting rights-based approaches and recourse mechanisms are also crucial.

Benefits and Incentives: A review of payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes in the region indicated that PES is generally subsidised and that administering payment schemes can entail high transaction costs. The benefits that communities receive need to be greater than the transaction, management and opportunity costs.

Scaling Up: Scaling up local best practices is important and in Latin America social movements have tended to generate the best systems. The authors recommend supporting locally generated development plans and add that community-based mapping can be important.

Other important lessons include capacity building and sustainability, the latter is enhanced by community managers being decision-makers, titled collective tenure rights, and strong community institutions.

The Latin American publication complements a similar report published for Africa and a global overview brief. The potential role that Community Protocols in REDD+ has been explored in a Natural Justice brief which can be downloaded here.

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