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Community Participation and Benefits in REDD+: A Review of Initial Outcomes and Lessons

Abstract and Figures

The advent of initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) in developing countries has raised much concern regarding impacts on local communities. To inform this debate, we analyze the initial outcomes of those REDD+ projects that systematically report on their socio-economic dimensions. To categorize and compare projects, we develop a participation and benefits framework that considers REDD+'s effects on local populations' opportunities (jobs, income), security (of tenure and ecosystem services), and empowerment (participation in land use and development decisions). We find material benefits, in terms of jobs and income, to be, thus far, modest. On the other hand, we find that many projects are helping populations gain tenure rights. A majority of projects are obtaining local populations' free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). However, for those projects interacting with multiple populations, extent of participation and effects on forest access are often uneven. Our participation and benefits framework can be a useful tool for identifying the multi-faceted socio-economic impacts of REDD+, which are realized under different timescales. The framework and initial trends reported here can be used to build hypotheses for future REDD+ impact evaluations and contribute to evolving theories of incentive-based environmental policy.
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Forests 2013, 4, 296-318; doi:10.3390/f4020296
ISSN 1999-4907
Community Participation and Benefits in REDD+: A Review of
Initial Outcomes and Lessons
Kathleen Lawlor 1,*, Erin Myers Madeira 2, Jill Blockhus 2 and David J. Ganz 3
1 Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, P.O. Box 3435,
Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
2 The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203, USA;
E-Mails: (E.M.M.); (J.B.)
3 Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests, United States Agency for International Development
(USAID), Liberty Square, Suite 2002, 287 Silom Road Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:
Received: 28 February 2013; in revised form: 23 April 2013 / Accepted: 25 April 2013 /
Published: 10 May 2013
Abstract: The advent of initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation
and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) in developing countries has raised much
concern regarding impacts on local communities. To inform this debate, we analyze the
initial outcomes of those REDD+ projects that systematically report on their
socio-economic dimensions. To categorize and compare projects, we develop a
participation and benefits framework that considers REDD+’s effects on local populations’
opportunities (jobs, income), security (of tenure and ecosystem services), and
empowerment (participation in land use and development decisions). We find material
benefits, in terms of jobs and income, to be, thus far, modest. On the other hand, we find
that many projects are helping populations gain tenure rights. A majority of projects are
obtaining local populations’ free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). However, for those
projects interacting with multiple populations, extent of participation and effects on forest
access are often uneven. Our participation and benefits framework can be a useful tool for
identifying the multi-faceted socio-economic impacts of REDD+, which are realized under
different timescales. The framework and initial trends reported here can be used to build
hypotheses for future REDD+ impact evaluations and contribute to evolving theories of
incentive-based environmental policy.
Forests 2013, 4 297
Keywords: REDD+; social impacts; tenure; payments for ecosystem services;
deforestation; climate change mitigation
1. Introduction
Initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks
in developing countries (now commonly termed ―REDD+‖) have been a contentious issue since their
emergence in the late 1990s. The topic of how REDD+ will affect local populations, and which, if any,
safeguard policies should be adopted to protect them, continues to be an ongoing source of debate.
Millions depend on forest resources for their livelihoods and will be affected by any decision. Some
fear that the prospect of forest carbon revenues combined with realities of ambiguous property rights
and weak governance in many forest regions may lead states, companies, and even conservation
organizations to take actions that threaten rural livelihoods. Concerns about land grabs, evictions,
forest access restrictions, and reversals of tenure reforms have all been raised [1,2]. Others argue that
because (a) the transfer of REDD+ funds is tied to results and (b) both private and public sector actors
are intent on avoiding the reputational risks associated with negative social impacts, REDD+ has
greater potential for socio-economic and ecological benefits than previous international forest
conservation initiatives [3].
While some policy actors focus on avoiding risks to local populations by adopting safeguards to
ensure that REDD+ does no harm‖, others focus on enhancing REDD+’s socio-economic benefits [4].
The rise of REDD+ has sparked renewed hope in the ability of conservation programs to deliver
win-wins by saving the environment and reducing rural poverty. This is evidenced by the
widespread uptake of voluntary certification standards that require forest carbon projects deliver
socio-economic ―co-benefits‖, such as the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) and Plan
Vivo standards [57] and the narratives dominating REDD+ policy discourse (see [8]). Yet both the
theoretical and empirical support for the idea of poverty and environment win-wins in the context of
forest policy is not well established [9], though its logic can be traced to the early poverty-environment
trap literaturesee summaries by Wunder [9], Scherr [10], and Reardon and Vosti [11].
The general theory of poverty-environment traps posits that because the environment is a key input
into household production and thus an important asset held by the rural poor, environmental
destruction increases poverty. And yet because clearing land for agriculture and harvesting natural
resources are also the primary livelihood strategies in rural landscapes, the poor’s efforts to lift
themselves out of poverty can in fact drive them deeper into povertyinto a poverty-environment
trap. If this explanation of rural poverty is correct, then interventions encouraging more sustainable
use of the landscape might halt this slide and deliver win-wins‖—though note that the win on the
poverty side is one of poverty stabilization and not poverty reduction. Barbier [12] has recently
articulated a more nuanced theory of poverty-environment traps, which argues that such traps exist
only where markets for land, off-farm labor, and credit are incomplete. He identifies policy interventions
that correct these market failures as well as payments for ecosystem services as actions that can help
the rural poor break out of poverty-environment traps. Barbier and Tesfaw [13] argue that REDD+
Forests 2013, 4 298
may reduce poverty, and thus achieve win-wins‖, in those settings where local populations’ property
rights are well-established or where REDD+ initiatives make efforts to enhance their tenure security.
To help inform the policy debate and the design and implementation of future REDD+ initiatives,
we take stock of REDD+ projects’ initial socio-economic outcomes by reviewing the results reported
in project documents. While the contours of national and international REDD+ programs and financing
schemes are still emerging, there are over 300 site-specific REDD+ projects under development across
the world [14]. Many of these projects are beginning to produce measurable socio-economic outcomes.
An examination of these initial results can offer insight into whether and how REDD+ may involve
and benefit local populations.
2. Conceptual Framework
To categorize and compare these reported outcomes, we develop a participation and benefits
framework, adapted to the particular context of REDD+ (Figure 1). Our conceptual approach draws
from the World Bank’s ―attacking poverty‖ framework [15] and incorporates ideas from recent
research on institutions and sustainability. We also draw from debates over the merits and practice of
participation in environment and development initiatives. The ―attacking poverty‖ approach is
informed by the ideas of Amartya Sen and suggests that well-being can be enhanced via three
interacting and complementary pathways: opportunity, security, and empowerment. In the context of
REDD+, we conjecture that projects could affect local well-being by:
(1) creating (or blocking) material opportunities for wealth creation and well-being, such as jobs,
revenue streams, infrastructure, and improved educational conditions;
(2) enhancing (or weakening) populations’ security, including tenure security, food security,
livelihood security, and adaptability to climate change; and
(3) facilitating (or preventing) the empowerment of individuals and communities to participate in
decisions affecting local land-use and development.
The second and third aspects of this well-being framework—―security‖ and ―empowerment‖—
deserve a bit more discussion. In his seminal work Development as Freedom, Sen emphasizes the
importance of human agency, which leads him to argue that freedom (of voice, choice, and action) is
both the ends and means of development [16]. In this view, the freedom to participate in decisions
affecting one’s life is understood as both a goal of development, as well as a causal pathway or
strategy for reducing poverty and enhancing well-being. He conceptualizes human agency in terms of
freedoms, capabilities, and functioningsall of which reinforce each other. Capabilities are
substantive freedoms or processes that allow freedom of action, such as freedom from hunger or ability
to escape starvation. Functionings are the objectives one wishes to achieve, such as eating.
Instrumental freedoms include political freedoms, security, and social and economic opportunities.
These instrumental freedoms enhance the capabilities of each person to achieve their functionings.
Forests 2013, 4 299
Figure 1. Conceptual framework for characterizing socio-economic outcomes in REDD+.
Sen’s emphasis on capabilities and freedom leads him to propose that poverty be thought of as
―capability deprivation‖. This multi-dimensional conception of poverty, along with three other bodies
of work outlined below, motivates our conceptualization of both ―security‖ and ―empowerment‖ as
key potential socio-economic outcomes of interest in our examination of REDD+ projects.
First, we consider theory and reviews from Ostrom [17,18] on institutions and sustainability and
recent empirical International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research, which finds that in
forest commons, extent of local rulemaking (considering both tenure and autonomy in decision-making)
is an important predictor of carbon storage, biodiversity, and sustained forest livelihoods [19,20].
Second, we acknowledge that the topic of ―Free, Prior, and Informed Consent‖ (FPIC) and what
constitutes meaningful participation in REDD+ is currently a source of fierce debate in international
policy dialogues [21]. Finally, we recognize that the current debate over participation in REDD+ is not
new and is instead the current manifestation of a long and continually evolving debate in conservation
and development fields. This discourse has evolved from promoting local participation as a silver
bullet for poverty reduction, to characterizing the mainstream application of ―participatory development‖
as a meaningless technocratic exercise [22], to the contemporary reclamation of participation as a
fundamental ingredient of social changeif accompanied by rights of citizenship and institutional
reforms [23]. Since the 1960s, scholars have developed numerous scales for assessing the extent of
true local participation in conservation and development projects. One of the most
well-known comes from Arnstein [24], who points out that practitioners tend to describe a range
of interactions with local stakeholders as ―participation‖, ranging from non-participation (e.g.,
manipulation), to tokenistic consultations, to genuine forms of participation, such as ―partnership‖,
―delegated power‖, and ―citizen control‖.
Forests 2013, 4 300
Consistent with Arnstein’s view of participation, we characterize participation in REDD+ along a
seven-scale gradient (Figure 2). This participation scale, along with the framework indicators, is used to
measure how REDD+ projects are affecting local populations’ opportunities, security, and empowerment.
Figure 2. Characterizing participation in REDD+.
3. Data and Methods
We focus on projects certified by the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) Alliance
standard because these projects report on participation and benefits in a thorough and systematic
fashion. Because we are concerned with projects that are actually being implemented and have begun
to demonstrate results, we examine only those CCB projects that have made it through the validation
stage. Validation indicates that CCB certifies the project design; verification occurs at a later stage to
examine the project’s actual results. However, at the validation stage initial results regarding security
and empowerment effects (as defined in our framework) are documented and some projects already
have initial demonstrated impacts on jobs, income, and infrastructure to report. We limit our sample to
REDD+ projects in developing countries. As of 1 February 2012, there were 39 developing country
projects validated under the CCB. We exclude two of these projects (both in IndonesiaUlu Masen
and Rimba Raya) due to recent reports that on the ground activities have stalled and the projects may
not continue [2527]. We also include other projects with thorough documentation of initial
socio-economic outcomes. Based on this search, we add the following cases to our sample:
a Cambodian project that is currently undergoing CCB validation; The Nature Conservancy’s
long-running Noel Kempff project in Bolivia; six projects validated by the Plan Vivo standard, which
also requires systematic reporting on local participation and benefits; and one that is being developed
by an indigenous community in the Brazilian Amazon. In sum, our sample includes 41 REDD+
projects across 22 countries. Fourteen of these projects are in Africa, eight in Asia, and nineteen in
Central and South America. We review these projects’ Project Design Documents (PDD), and, where
available, supplement this information with external reports and information reported on project
websites (see the Electronic Supplementary Materials for a list of reviewed documents).
Forests 2013, 4 301
These projects are being developed by a range of actors, and often involve collaborations between
multiple organizations. Six of the projects are being developed by a public-private partnership.
Conservation NGOs are involved in the development of 16 of the 41 projects (11 involve
international NGOs, 9 involve national NGOs). For-profit companies are involved in 21 of the
41 projects (15 involve international companies, four involve national companies). International
donors and foundations are involved in the development of six of the projects and national
governments are involved in two. Only one project was initiated and being developed by the local
community themselves.
Table 1 provides an overview of the geographic, demographic, and institutional characteristics of
projects in the study sample. The projects are situated in a range of ecosystems, from dry degraded
grassland to intact tropical rainforest. Only 16 of the 41 projects are in rainforest and the vast majority
of these are in Central and South America. The Africa and Asia projects tend to be located in dryland
or temperate ecosystems. Project zone size varies tremendously, from a small 42 hectare (ha) Plan
Vivo project in Nicaragua, to the 642,184 ha Noel Kempff project in Bolivia. The range of total carbon
benefits that projects aim to produce over their lifecycles is wide: from 2168 t CO2e for an
afforestation/reforestation project in temperate China to 189,767,028 t CO2e for the Juma project in
Amazonas, Brazil. The size of local populations that could potentially be affected by these projects
(not including voluntary tree-planting initiatives) ranges from 1025 people at Noel Kempff to
250,000 people at a project in the degraded rainforests of Kenya, located in one of the most densely
populated areas of the world.
Table 1. Geographic, demographic, and institutional characteristics of REDD+ projects in
study sample: Descriptive statistics.
Africa (n = 14)
Asia & Pacific
(n = 8)
Central & South
America (n = 19)
(# of projects)
Ethiopia (1), Kenya
(5), Malawi (1),
Mozambique (1),
Tanzania (3),
Uganda (3)
Cambodia (1),
China (3), India (1),
Papua New Guinea
(1), Philippines (2)
Belize (1), Bolivia (2),
Brazil (4), Columbia
(1), Costa Rica (1),
El Salvador (1), Mexico
(2), Nicaragua (2),
Panama (2), Paraguay
(1), Peru (2)
Agro-ecosystem: # (%) of projects
Tropical rainforest
2 (14%)
1 (13%)
13 (68%)
16 (39%)
Dry, temperate or
montane forest or
8 (57%)
5 (63%)
4 (21%)
17 (41%)
5 (36%)
2 (25%)
6 (32%)
13 (32%)
9 (64%)
3 (38%)
3 (16%)
15 (37%)
Forests 2013, 4 302
Table 1. Cont.
Africa (n = 14)
Asia & Pacific
(n = 8)
Central & South
America (n = 19)
All Projects (n = 41)
Project area (hectares) a
Carbon benefits (t CO2e) b
% of study sample
Local population size c
Ex-ante formal tenure: # (%) of projects
State property
5 (36%)
5 (63%)
3 (17%)
13 (33%)
Joint management
3 (21%)
2 (25%)
2 (11%)
7 (18%)
Communal property
5 (36%)
4 (50%)
5 (28%)
14 (35%)
Individual property
4 (29%)
3 (38%)
14 (78%)
21 (53%)
0 (0%)
1 (13%)
3 (17%)
4 (10%)
a Three projects did not report the size of the project area; b Total tCO2e projected to be avoided or removed
over the project lifetime, which varies from 20 to 100 years (most 2030 years); c Projects vary in how they
report the size of the local population: some include those residing in the general administrative unit, others
report local population size as the number living within the actual project area (which may or may not
include those within the leakage belt). Nine projects did not report any quantitative information on local
population size.
Nearly all projects (35/41) are addressing small-scale drivers of land-use change and only eight are
addressing the major drivers of forest lossindustrial agriculture (crops and/or cattle) (see Figure 3).
Many projects embody the integrated nature of REDD+ and their activities fall into numerous REDD+
categories: afforestation/reforestation (A/R), agroforestry (AF), sustainable forest management (SFM),
assisted regeneration, or conservation (REDD). As Figure 4 shows, nearly 76% of projects are
engaging in A/R, 44% in REDD, 29% in AF, 27% in SFM, and 5% in regeneration. Projects are also
employing multiple intervention strategies, with payments for ecosystem services the most common at
39%, followed by integrated conservation and development and plantations (each at 29%), protected
areas and woodlots (each at 15%), and community-based forest management, alternative fuels,
ecotourism, unconditional cash transfers, and lastly health measures, improved agriculture, and timber
concession (see Figure 5).
Forests 2013, 4 303
Figure 3. Predicted land-use in the without-project scenario (n = 41).
Figure 4. Types of REDD+ represented in the study sample (n = 41).
To measure the initial effect of projects on opportunities, we note how many jobs have been created
or lost; the amount of payments that have been transferred to the local population; and project
contributions to health, education, and infrastructure. We count only those jobs and payments that
projects report having already been achieved and not those that are projected to be achieved. To
characterize how projects are affecting security, we note whether projects are enhancing or weakening
local populations’ property/management rights and how projects are affecting locals’ forest access and
use. We also note whether projects report preventing in-migration to the project area or resettling any
of the population. We attempted to score projects’ effects on carbon rights and ecosystem services
important for health, water, and food security, but there was not systematic reporting on these aspects
across project documents. To score projects on their empowerment effects, we review projects’
descriptions of how they are involving local populations in project design and implementation and
Forests 2013, 4 304
identify which of the seven categories listed in Figure 2. best characterizes their participation
processes. We ranked a project’s participation process as FPIC if the project documents explicitly
state that a community’s/individuals agreement to the project had been obtained and that populations
received information about project plans prior to agreement. All PES projects using contracts were
thus considered to have obtained FPIC. More than one participation process typology is identified for
those cases where projects employ different modes of engagement with different affected populations.
Non-systematic reporting of projects’ effects on social capital precluded inclusion of this aspect of
empowerment in our review. The disaggregated data is provided in the Supplementary Materials.
Figure 5. Intervention strategies deployed by REDD+ projects (n = 41).
After scoring each project against our participation and benefits framework, we identify which
projects have, to date, produced the most results in terms of opportunities, security, and empowerment
for local populations. Here, it is important to distinguish between a project’s outcomes (observed
deliverables) and its impacts (the actual effects of the project, identified by comparing observed
outcomes to a counterfactual scenario, ruling out rival explanations for changes in outcomes and
addressing endogeneity bias). Since our review is of outcome data only, we don’t have a good sense of
what levels of jobs, income, property rights, or participation populations would have experienced in
the absence of the project. It would therefore be inappropriate to use this data to reach definitive
conclusions about socio-economic impacts (positive and negative) in REDD+. However, this
qualitative review of early outcomes can fill an important gap by providing an inventory of what, if
any, socio-economic benefits REDD+ projects are already delivering. This inventory can help us
identify trends, generate hypotheses, and build an improved framework for understanding how changes
in forest management and incentives are affecting livelihoods in REDD+.
Forests 2013, 4 305
4. Results
4.1. Opportunities
For many projects, it is simply too early to assess whether they have produced material benefits for
communities. But, as Table 2 shows, 21 projects in our sample have generated either jobs, payments,
or made in-kind contributions to local communities’ educational systems and infrastructure (i.e.,
electrification, roads). Of these projects, 14 have generated jobs, with total jobs ranging from 8 to 250
(or <1 to 15 per 1000 people living in the project vicinity). Nine projects have enrolled individuals in
PES schemes. Total number enrolled ranges from 22 to 30,890 (or 2 to 617 per 1000 people living in
the project vicinity). Only 7 projects have thus far transferred payments to local populations, with total
payments ranging from $426 to $444,576 (occurring over various time periods). For those projects that
have transferred payments to individuals or households, this represents, approximately, a range of
<$1–$134 per project participant per year. Projects’ contributions to infrastructure have been relatively
minor. Seven have made contributions to educational systems.
Not surprisingly, those projects producing the highest level of non-wage income are those making
direct payments to populations. These are mostly tree-planting PES projects. Two of these high
opportunity benefits projects (Juma, Brazil and an ICDP project in Kenya), however, have a different
design: Focused on protecting existing forests, they are extending cash transfers to households in order
to build political support for conservation, rather than make payment conditional on carbon service
provision as in a PES scheme. Also not surprisingly, the projects delivering the most opportunity
benefits tend to be the longer-running projects. The reforestation projects have tended to create more
jobs than projects focused on protecting standing forests.
While the creation of new jobs and revenue streams is notable, it is important to note that the size of
the payments transferred to date is not very large. In the one project whose socio-economic impacts
were evaluated using a before-after-control-intervention design (Sofala in Mozambique), the study
found that carbon payments did not have a significant impact on household income [28], suggesting
that while REDD+ can provide a new revenue stream for rural populations, it may have limited
impacts on poverty reduction.
Forests 2013, 4
Table 2. REDD+ projects reporting opportunity benefits (n = 21).
Total jobs
(per ha.; per
1000 people)
Total non-wage
(per ha.; per
participant) a
Total enrolled
in program
(per ha.; per
1000 people)
Contributions to
education b
REDD+ type c
type d
Social certification
e validated
TIST Program in Kenya
55 (<1; 1)
$188,900 ($121; $6)
(20; 618)
NR f
Affor., Refor.,
CCBA 2nd Ed.
2004; 2011
Kasigua Corridor REDD
Project (Kenya)
32 perm.; 14 temp.
(<1; 1)
$91,942 to 13
communities in leakage
belt; $6,092 to 12
community nurseries
for seedlings
($3; NR)
85 scholarships;
$37,250 for
renovation, electricity,
REDD, some
AF and Refor.
CCBA 2nd (Gold)
1998; 2009
Kasigua Corridor REDD
Project Phase
IICommunity Ranches
8 (<1; <1)
$426 (<$1;N/A)
REDD, Refor.
CCBA 2nd (Gold)
1998; 2011
TIST Program in Kenya
56 (<1; 1)
9,013 (3; 173)
Affor., Refor.,
CCBA 2nd (Gold)
2004; 2011
Trees of Hope (Malawi)
1290 (3; 2)
AF, Affor.,
Plan Vivo
2007; 2011
Sofala Community
Carbon Project
170 (<1; 6)
$223,750 (<1;
1835 (<1; 66)
Community funds used
to build schools,
though no additional
in-kind contributions
Plan Vivo & CCBA
2nd (Gold)
2002; 2007
(Plan Vivo),
Reforestation in
Grassland of Uchindile,
Kilombero & Mapanda,
Mufindi (Tanzania)
50 perm.;
3400 temp.
(<1; 7)
Transported building
materials for 1 school
12 km of road;
12 bridges
Affor., Refor.,
CCBA 1st (Silver)
1997; 2009
Emiti Nibwo Bulora
24 (<1; 3)
AF, Refor.,
Plan Vivo
1994; 2009
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Table 2. Cont.
Total jobs
(per ha.;
per 1000 people)
Total non-wage
payments (per ha.;
per participant) a
Total enrolled
in program
(per ha.; per
1000 people)
Contributions to
education b
REDD+ type c
type d
Social certification
e validated
Reforestation in
Grassland Areas of
Idete, Mufindi District,
Iringa Region
17 perm.;
350 temp. (<1; 2)
Built 21 classrooms
Built 2 bridges
and 14 km of
CCBA 1st (Silver)
2006; 2011
Kikonda Forest Reserve
Reforestation Project
200300 (<1; 15)
School support
Affor., SFM
PA, Woodlots
CCBA 1st (Silver)
2002; 2009
Trees for Global
Benefits (Uganda)
$444,576 (NR;
395 (NR; NR)
Affor., Refor.,
Plan Vivo
2003; 2009
ASIA (1)
Reforestation of
degraded land in
Chhattisgarh (India)
90 (workdays
equivalent) (<1; 9)
Sponsoring teachers
Affor., SFM
Plantation, Alt.
CCBA 1st (Gold)
2002; 2009
Boden Creek Ecological
Preserve (Belize)
30 (<1; 24)
CCBA 2nd (Gold)
1996; 2005
Noel Kempff Mercado
Climate Action Project
10 full-time;
80 part-time/temp
(<1; 10)
Refurbished 3 schools,
paid 2 teacher salaries,
sponsored 120
scholarships, donated
Repaired road
Other non-social
1996; 2005
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Table 2. Cont.
Total jobs
(per ha.; per
1000 people)
Total non-wage
payments (per ha.; per
participant) a
Total enrolled
in program
(per ha.; per
1000 people)
Contributions to
education b
REDD+ type c
type d
Social certification
started; e
Juma Sustainable
Development Reserve
Project in Amazonas
$280,000 (<$1;
CCBA 1st (Gold)
2005; 2008
Scolel Te (Mexico)
2,437 (<1; NR)
AF, Affor.,
Refor., REDD
PES, Alt. Fuels
Plan Vivo
1996; 1996
Carbon Sequestration in
Communities of
Extreme Poverty in the
Sierra Gorda (Mexico)
60 (<1; 3)
Refor., SFM
CCBA 2nd (Gold)
1987; 2011
Limay Community
Carbon (Nicaragua)
$2,071 ($49; $94)
22 (<1; 2)
PES, Alt. Fuels
Plan Vivo
2007; 2011
CO2OL Tropical Mix
Reforestation Project
59 perm.,
141 temp. (<1; 33)
CCBA 2nd -withdrawn
and resubmitted as new
project after validation
2007; 2011
Panama Native Species
51 perm.,
3040 temp.
(<1; 13)
CCBA 1st (Gold)
validation expired Feb
2006; 2007
Madre de Dios Amazon
REDD Project (Peru)
9 perm., 12 temp.
(<1; 1)
CCBA 1st (Gold)
2006; 2009
a Payments per participant as reported in project documents. Where not reported, payments per participant estimated by dividing total payments by total enrollees and converted to annual amounts where payment
time period clearly reported; b Only contributions to non-project related education noted (i.e., training related to REDD+ interventions not noted); c REDD+ types abbreviated as follows: Afforestation (Affor.),
Agroforestry (AF), Assisted Regeneration (Regen.), Reducing deforestation and/or degradation (REDD), Reforestation (Refor.), Sustainable Forest Management (SFM); d Project intervention types abbreviated as
follows: Alternative Fuels (Alt. Fuels), Community-based Forest Management (CBFM), Eco-tourism, Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP), Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES),
Plantation, Protected Area (PA), Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT), Woodlots; e Project start date indicates commencement of forest management and community development activities and not the beginning of
the carbon crediting period; f ―NR‖ indicates not reported–either because too early in project lifecycle or contribution is 0.
Forests 2013, 4
4.2. Security
4.2.1. Effects on Customary Tenure
In contrast to the opportunities outcomes, it is possible to discern projects’ reported impacts on
tenure for all but one project. According to the information provided in the PDDs, it appears that
twelve of 40 projects are enhancing local populations’ land ownership and management rights, no
projects report information indicating a weakening of tenure rights, and 28 projects appear to be
inducing no change in tenure arrangements. There are clear regional trends in projects’ tenure effects
(see Figure 6), just as there are clear regional trends in ex-ante tenure (see Table 1). The regional
ex-ante tenure trends in our sample correspond to those identified in the most recent global
review [29]. Most of the Central and South America projects are not changing tenure since individual
or communal property/management rights are already clearly established in many of these settings.
In Africa and Asia, however, where formal state ownership is a more common ex-ante tenure
condition, we find a greater percentage of projects enhancing local populations’ land ownership and
management rights.
Figure 6. REDD+ projects’ effects on local populations’ land tenure (n = 41).
Contrasting with fears that REDD+ will induce land grabs, our review of project reports indicates
that these early REDD+ projects are instead doing more to enhance local populations’ land claims.
This is an important, transformational effect that projects can haveand likely more enduring than
carbon payments. Projects are enhancing tenure rights in a variety of ways. Notable examples include
the Oddar Meanchey project in Cambodia, which helped numerous communities take advantage of
new decentralization reforms and obtain management rights to community forests. Noel Kempff
helped a local community establish, delimit, and title a 360,565 ha Indigenous Territory, which
includes a community-managed logging concession. In the Philippines, a reforestation project is
helping communities renew their tenure rights, which requires that 20% of the land be forested.
Initiatives to enhance tenure such as these can require significant effort and time. The Noel Kempff
project spent nearly a decade helping the indigenous community gain official tenure rights: first, the
project helped the community form a group with legal standing that could apply for the rights; in 1998,
they made the request; and, finally, obtained land title in 2006.
Forests 2013, 4
4.2.2. Understanding Changes to Forest Access and Use and Water, Health, and Food Security
It is also possible to discern at this stage how projects are affecting access and use, though in some
cases effects on certain sub-populations were unclear (see Section 5). As Figure 7 shows, most projects
appear to be attempting to put communities on a path towards sustainable use, though at least seven are
restricting use for some sub-populations. In terms of resettlement, only three projects in the sample
reported resettling populations (all small in number). Nine projects are planning to prevent
in-migration. Assignment of carbon rights appeared to be uncertain for many projects, though all
possibilities are represented in the sample (i.e., carbon owned by the state, project developer/investors,
local population, or a combination thereof).
Figure 7. REDD+ projects’ effects on land access and use (n = 41).
Rather than placing outright restrictions on locals’ use of forest resources, most projects are instead
trying to help communities develop sustainable use strategies, via either tree planting or forest
management activities. However, our project document review reveals that more attention to access
and use issues where multiple populations are present is necessary. This is particularly the case where
projects are trying to reform open-access regimes and the measures taken to ensure long-term
sustainable management impact users whose livelihoods had become reliant on the open-access
resource. For example, there were several projects in China and Central and South America that
reported obtaining agreement from landowners for the project, but then also reported that grazers’ use
of the land would be stopped. Some of these projects described consultation processes with these
grazers and finding them alternative land, but others did not.
Projects’ effects on ecosystem services important for water, health, and food security were often
unclear. We initially sought to analyze how projects were affecting these services, but projects’
non-explicit reporting on these dimensions made systematic categorization difficult.
4.3. Empowerment
Most projects (see Figure 8) are, based on our criteria, going beyond minimum levels of requisite
consultation and participation to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of local
Forests 2013, 4
populations for REDD+. (The 2nd edition of the CCB standards requires that projects obtain local
populations’ FPIC. Sixteen of the 41 projects in the study sample have been validated against the CCB
2nd edition.) However, for some projects interacting with multiple populations, extent of participation
is not always even across groups, as the discussion of divergent consultation processes with grazers vs.
landowners in open-access regimes above indicates. All of the seven projects restricting land use for
some scored on the lower rungs of the participation gradient. We don’t find evidence of any regional
differences in participation.
Figure 8. Participation of local populations in REDD+ projects (n = 40).
One project (the Surui Indigenous Peoples project in Brazil) achieved the top tier participation level
in our framework: project initiation and management (full autonomy in rulemaking) and provides
best-practice guidance on how to conduct a FPIC process. The Surui Carbon Project was initiated by
the community’s Chief, who then conducted a FPIC process in accordance with the Surui’s traditions.
The idea of the REDD+ project was first proposed and explained to all community members and
follow-up meetings were then held over a months-long period to allow ample time and the appropriate
venues for deliberation and clarifications. Community consent was ultimately reached in a transparent
and non-coerced fashion and the details of the process were documented and shared with the public.
It must be noted, however, that the Surui situation is unique and it may be challenging for other
projects to replicate their success. For one, the Surui are a traditional, cohesive community. Further,
this case study highlights the impact one committed dynamic leader can have on a project’s success.
Forests 2013, 4
5. Discussion
5.1. Can REDD+ Deliver “Win-Wins” for Poverty and the Environment?
We now return to question of whether REDD+ can deliver win-wins for both poverty and the
environment. Our results shed some light on this question and indicate the need to carefully consider
the following factors when analyzing poverty-environment relationships: (a) the geographic scale of
analysis, (b) distinguishing between poverty alleviation and poverty reduction, and (c) how poverty
or well-being is defined.
Our results indicate that the tree-planting and PES projects in our sample tend to produce higher
opportunity benefits, in terms of jobs and income, respectively. The majority of these opportunity
benefits are produced by projects in Africa. These findings support Funder’s [30] argument that
agroforestry, forest restoration, and afforestation/reforestation initiatives will be more pro-poor than
avoided deforestation projects in REDD+.
At the project level then, this might indicate a strategy for delivering win-wins. However, if we
expand our analysis to the global scale, then some poverty-environment tradeoffs begin to emerge.
We find that while Africa accounts for 77% of payments and 72% of jobs produced in our sample, the
continent accounts for only 16% of the samples’ total projected carbon benefits (see Tables 1 and 2).
Explaining why the Africa projects account for most of the jobs and payments is challenged by our
small sample size and the simultaneous effects of project type, project duration, and project
participants’ opportunity costs. It may be that given the lack of available alternatives in many African
regions, REDD+ offers the best opportunity for income-generation. This finding might then be
consistent with predictions that carbon emissions avoidance/removals will first be achieved in Africa
since the continent has the lowest opportunity costs and thus lowest marginal abatement costs [31].
(Indeed, the deforestation hotspot of Indonesiawhere it remains to be seen whether carbon prices
will ever be able to outcompete lucrative oil palmis notably absent from our sample.) The per
hectare carbon benefits of tree-planting projects in the drylands of Africa are of course much less than
those in tropical rainforests. And the population density is much lower in intact tropical rainforests
than it is in the degraded savanna woodlands of Africa. These simple observations provide a reality
check on the belief that we can simultaneously reduce poverty and maximize climate benefits in
REDD+. Instead, it appears that those landscapes with the largest carbon stocks and potential climate
gains will often not overlap with those regions home to the most potential beneficiaries. Further, the
fact that the vast majority of projects in our sample are focusing on small-scale drivers of forest loss
and not on the large-scale drivers known to be the major causes of forest destruction such as
commercial agriculture and ranching [32] also lends support to the notion that there may be
poverty-environment tradeoffs in REDD+.
Our results also highlight the importance of distinguishing between poverty alleviation and poverty
reduction when analyzing poverty-environment relationships. We find that the number of jobs created
and size of payments transferred thus far amongst those projects producing opportunity benefits to be
modest. It may be that even where REDD+ projects compensate affected populations for any losses
and create jobs and new income streams, they hold stronger potential as vehicles for poverty
alleviation rather than engines of economic growth. REDD+ can also contribute to poverty alleviation
Forests 2013, 4
by solidifying tenure rights, enhancing communities’ capacity for forest management and other
collective action initiatives, and sustaining ecosystem services important for food security and
adaptation to climate change. All of these potential pro-poor impacts of REDD+ are frequently
identified in the REDD+ literature [30]. However, whether or not we identify these non-income
benefits of REDD+ depends on the indicators used to evaluate realized impacts.
Therefore, how we define poverty and well-being may affect whether or not we identify
win-win or win-lose poverty-environment relationships in REDD+. Our results show that while the
opportunity benefits of REDD+ may be modest, the security and empowerment benefits might be more
significantat least in the short term. Therefore, traditional measures of poverty and welfare that
consider only the impact of REDD+ on consumption, income, or jobs might fail to capture its full
effects on well-being. Using a multi-dimensional measure of well-being that builds off Sen’s
capabilities approach, such as the one used here, can do a better job of capturing the impacts of
REDD+ on tenure and participation. This framework may also be useful for capturing impacts on
ecosystem services important for food, health, and water security. If we accept such a definition of
well-being, then the results presented here offer some initial evidence of REDD+’s potential to deliver
win-wins for poverty and the environment. Our findings are consistent with Barbier and Tesfaw’s [13]
hypotheses about conditions for win-wins in REDD+ as well as Wunder’s [33] conjecture that PES
programs are likely to produce only modest income benefits but may help the rural poor increase their
tenure security. Over the longer term, REDD+’s impacts on ecosystem services should be able to be
identifiedevaluation of these security benefits should yield further nuanced understanding of
poverty-environment relationships.
5.2. Achieving and Improving Meaningful Participation in REDD+
Indigenous peoples’ right to give or withhold their FPIC for activities affecting lands they have
customarily occupied or used is codified in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
which was passed in 2007, after over two decades of negotiations [34]. The World Bank Group has
been under intense pressure to adopt FPIC policies for many years. Now, advocates are seeking to
guarantee that REDD+ donors and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) recognize and uphold the rights of both indigenous and other local communities to FPIC.
Given the intensity of debates over FPIC in REDD+, it is notable that so many projects in the sample
met our criteria for FPIC.
However, our review also reveals that projects require more guidance on how to obtain and sustain
FPIC, as well as the principles underlying it. One project, for example, reported that they had obtained
FPIC by communicating with all of the project investors and obtaining their agreement to go forward
with the project (this project was not scored as FPIC in our review). The extent of information
conveyed to populations was not always well described, which sometimes challenged our independent
assessment of how truly ―informed‖ a household or community was before they agreed to the project.
In particular, details about contract structure were often not included in project documents, nor were
descriptions of how well people were informed about possible ranges in future carbon payments. Other
recent studies examining how REDD+ projects are interacting with communities have also raised
questions about the extent to which communities are being properly informed about project plans.
Forests 2013, 4
Both Awono et al. [35] and Sunderlin and Sills [36] find that uncertainty about the forest carbon
market and REDD+ policy is causing project developers to delay community consultations and
information sharing regarding project plans. The motivation for this delay is often to avoid raising
community’s expectations about potential carbon payments and other benefits. More work could be
done by the REDD+ community to provide guidance on how to conduct FPIC processes in the context
of such policy and market uncertainty.
It must also be noted that most of the projects we ranked as ―FPIC‖ were interacting and obtaining
consent from multiple individuals separately via PES contracts. Participation and FPIC processes are
of course much more complicated when community-level consent is requiredand even more so
when there are multiple communities or sub-populations in the project area.
5.3. Improving Measurement, Monitoring, and Reporting of Socio-Economic Impacts in REDD+
The PDDs reviewed in this study often contained detailed information on local communities and
many number well over 300 pages. Nevertheless, extracting the specific information from these
documents that we sought for our review was quite difficult. We found that projects do not
systematically report on the actual size of the population potentially affected by the project, the
number of jobs created, or the size of payments transferred per participant per year. Information about
participation processes and tenure conditions was often better documented. Projects could also do
more to estimate their impacts on local ecosystem services supporting populations’ water, food and
health security. Neglecting to quantify and value these local ecosystem services likely greatly
underestimates REDD+’s full socio-economic impacts. Finally, in order to better understand the actual
socio-economic impacts of REDD+, projects should more explicitly compare their observed outcomes
(i.e., jobs created, payments transferred) against a counterfactual scenario (i.e., the social reference
scenario of without-project conditions). While this step is required at the verification stage once
climate and social benefits are actually realized and not the validation stage (i.e., when the project
design is approved), the PDDs produced at the validation stage do require that the social reference
scenario be estimated and reported. We found many of these counterfactual projections to be quite
general descriptions and how they would be used for comparison at the later verification stage was not
always clear. Moreover, some projects in our sample have been verified but we still found that they
often did not explicitly compare their observed outcomes to a reference scenario when reporting their
realized social benefits. Caplow et al. [37] reached a similar conclusion after reviewing documentation
for 20 ―pre-REDD‖ projects (reduced deforestation and degradation projects initiated prior to 2007,
when parties to the UNFCCC articulated their commitment to advancing REDD).
6. Conclusions
This article makes important contributions to ongoing conversations about the ability of REDD+ to
deliver ―win-wins‖ for poverty and the environment. We develop a three-component framework for
assessing how REDD+ projects affect local well-being. This framework provides a useful structure for
understanding different types of socio-economic outcomes, which are realized under different
timescales. Using this framework, we found that many early REDD+ projects are delivering measurable
socio-economic benefits by enhancing populations’ tenure security and facilitating their empowerment
Forests 2013, 4
through meaningful participation in REDD+ project design and implementation. We also found that, to
date, projects have produced only modest opportunity benefits (jobs, income) for local populations.
Our findings lead us to make several recommendations for those working on REDD+ policy
and implementation. First, future evaluations of REDD+ socio-economic impacts should consider
hypotheses derived from the trends we observe in this study: That A/R projects produce more jobs than
REDD projects; that PES and cash-transfer interventions produce more income than other
interventions; and that more meaningful local participation leads to greater opportunity and security
benefits. Second, practitioners require more practical guidance on how to conduct community-level
FPIC processes, especially in settings of non-cohesive communities with multiple sub-populations. All
REDD+ initiatives need to pay greater attention to the ―informed‖ component of FPIC, ensuring that
individuals and communities have detailed information about project risks and opportunities and that
this information-sharing process is documented. Third, REDD+ presents a window of opportunity for
donors and practitioners to support communities and individuals in their quests for more secure tenure.
Finally, as REDD+ scales up from site-specific projects to national programs, it is increasingly being
linked to broader adaptation and economic development objectivesas evidenced by the recent
UNFCCC text agreed to at COP 18 in Doha (see [38]). Strong market demand for forest carbon credits
has not emerged as originally anticipated due to the failure of large emitters such as the United States
to adopt cap-and-trade policies. Therefore, the future of REDD+ finance likely lies in the extent to
which it can hook its sails to countries’ broader development and climate adaptation objectives [39,40].
The UNFCCC safeguards and ―safeguard information systems‖ also require that REDD+ measure and
report on its socio-economic impacts (see [38,41,42]). The benefits and participation framework
developed and presented here can be used both by projects and countries to monitor, measure, and
evaluate REDD+ impacts and capture important, but perhaps otherwise neglected, impacts on tenure
and empowerment.
How representative is our sample of the universe of REDD+ projects? All but one of the projects in
our sample has obtained (or is seeking) CCB or Plan Vivo certification. Since these voluntary
standards require livelihood benefits, it may appear that our sample is biased. However, the CCB
standard has been adopted by an estimated 64% of all forest carbon projects [5] and nearly 60% of
forest carbon credits sold on the voluntary market in 2010 [6] and 29% of those sold in 2011 came
from CCB-certified projects [7]. This trend is carrying over as REDD+ scales up to national programs,
with the UNFCCC, World Bank, UN-REDD, and bilateral donors devoting increasing attention to
livelihood impacts and social safeguards with each iteration of REDD+ policy and program design.
Thus said, our findings do not disprove claims that some REDD+ projects are harming local
populations [43]. The minority of projects not committed to positive social impacts and operating
outside of CCBA or Plan Vivo may be yielding different outcomes from what we find here. Further,
even if a REDD+ project or program is obliged to comply with social safeguard policies, negative
outcomes may still occur and it is always possible that even project documents validated by a
third-party can fail to capture realities on the ground. This underscores the need for rigorous
socio-economic impact evaluation of REDD+. Indeed, commitment to such evaluation may be the
most crucial social safeguard policy we can adopt to protect vulnerable populations [44].
Forests 2013, 4
We are grateful for Craig Leisher’s early insights and recommendations, which helped shape our
approach. We thank anonymous reviewers for providing very useful suggestions for improving this
article. We also thank Pam Jagger, Chris Oishi, Tina Patterson, Analie Barnett, and the participants at
The Nature Conservancy’s 2011 All Science conference for helpful conversations along the way. This
research was funded by the government of Norway. K. Lawlor is supported under the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Graduate Fellowship program (FP91714001).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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© 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license
... The relatively more numerous studies of well-being outcomes "highlight small or insignificant results" . In a review of 41 REDD+ projects across 22 countries that adhered to some reporting standards, Lawlor et al. (2013) found that participants received a wide range of payments (from USD 1 to USD 134 per year) and that contributions to infrastructure and education services were modest. The more important contribution of these projects was to local tenure security. ...
... Rasolofoson et al., 2017), forest producer organisations, (e.g., FAO and AgriCord, 2016), SMFEs , PES (e.g., Adjognon et al., 2019), tree crop contract production (Morsello et al., 2012) and, to a much lesser extent, REDD+ (in terms of its focus on tenure reforms -e.g. Lawlor et al., 2013;Duchelle et al., 2018). ...
... Capacity building, including financial literacy, financial inclusion and improved management practices, often accompany interventions that bring new practices and ventures to producers (Pokorny et al., 2010;Hajjar et al., 2011;Elson, 2012). Safeguards such as free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and participation in intervention design are increasingly recognised in a rights-based discourse as essential components of interventions aiming to improve the lives of forest-reliant people (Lawlor et al., 2013;FAO, 2018). These supporting components of interventions may in and of themselves have poverty impacts, but we did not have the granularity to isolate and assess those outcomes. ...
Addressing poverty is an urgent global priority. Many of the world's poor and vulnerable people live in or near forests and rely on trees and other natural resources to support their livelihoods. Effectively tackling poverty and making progress toward the first of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” must therefore consider forests and trees. But what do we know about the potential for forests and tree-based systems to contribute to poverty alleviation? This Special Issue responds to this question. It synthesises and presents available scientific evidence on the role of forests and tree-based systems in alleviating and, ultimately, eradicating poverty. The articles compiled here also develop new conceptual frameworks, identify research frontiers, and draw out specific recommendations for policy. The scope is global, although emphasis is placed on low- and middle-income countries where the majority of the world's poorest people live. This introductory article stakes out the conceptual, empirical and policy terrain relating to forests, trees and poverty and provides an overview of the contribution of the other seven articles in this collection. This Special Issue has direct implications for researchers, policymakers and other decision-makers related to the role of forests and tree-based systems in poverty alleviation. The included articles frame the relationships between forests, trees and poverty, identify research gaps and synthesize evidence to inform policy.
... A lack of legitimacy in project implementation, and disparities in the decision-making power of diverse social groups, can cause problems at several levels. Failure to ensure that communities participate 'fully and effectively' increases the risk of being manipulated and marginalised by REDD+ project development and implementation, and it reduces the likelihood of benefits reaching communities (Krause et al., 2013;Lawlor et al., 2013). Participation should not be seen as an end in itself. ...
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... Recently, there has been an increase in studies to assess the contribution of PES to socio-economic issues. These studies have assessed different aspects of household and community livelihood, such as PES impacts on income (Do and NaRanong, 2019;Kwayu et al., 2017;Miranda et al., 2003;Pham et al., 2021), employment (Beauchamp et al., 2018;Kwayu et al., 2017;Uchida et al., 2009;Yin et al., 2014), expenditure and physical resources (Do and NaRanong, 2019;Hegde and Bull, 2011;Kwayu et al., 2017;Uchida et al., 2007), knowledge and capacity of households (Arriagada et al., 2018;Corbera et al., 2009;Kwayu et al., 2017;Locatelli et al., 2008;Miranda et al., 2003;Scullion et al., 2011), assistance for poor people (Milder et al., 2010;Schomers and Matzdorf, 2013) and poverty reduction (Grieg-Gran et al., 2005;Landell-Mills and Porras, 2002;Lawlor et al., 2013;Milder et al., 2010). It should be noted that ES providers have been paid to conserve the environment and to maintain and enhance ES provision; therefore, they are crucial actors for the success and contribution of PES programs on conservation and socio-economic objectives. ...
Payments for environmental services (PES) have been used popularly to manage natural resources, and their contribution to conservation and socio-economic objectives has still received concern from researchers. This study uses data from the household survey and focus group discussions on assessing the perceptions of indigenous people about payments for forest environmental services (PFES) policy in Vietnam. The results show that this policy still has some limitations and faces many challenges although indigenous people's perceptions on the effect of PFES on livelihood, forest conservation, and activities of the PFES implementation are positive. The main issues are legal rights for households to participate in forest protection, mechanisms and regulations for forest patrol and protection at the household and community level, and some issues in the payment norm to ensure equality in implementing the PFES program.
... The literature on the impacts of REDD+ on land tenure shows a variety of outcomes: a meta-analysis of 41 REDD+ projects found that while 12 enhanced ownership and rights, 28 did not create any change and tenure rights were not weakened in the reviewed projects (Lawlor et al., 2013). In Brazil, early evidence suggested that REDD+ appeared to have increased efforts towards improving tenure security, building on pre-existing actions (Larson et al., 2013). ...
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In 2012, IUFRO launched the GFEP report “Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives”. It analysed the implications of the newly evolving REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; conservation of forest carbon stocks; sustainable management of forests; and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) framework of the UNFCCC and potential impacts of activities foreseen under REDD+. The publication received considerable attention from policymakers and stakeholders and was used as guidance for policy development and implementation related to REDD+. In the ten years since the publication of the report, REDD+ has made considerable progress and the landscape of related international agreements has also expanded. UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. REDD+ contributes directly to achieving SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 15 on Life on Land, and indirectly to several other SDGs. Most recently, the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use confirmed the critical role of forests in meeting the SDGs and combatting climate change while maintaining other ecosystem services. At the same time, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is negotiating a post-2020 global biodiversity framework to respond to the continuing rapid decline of biodiversity. However, the gap between the political will to meet these global goals and their successful implementation still needs to be closed. In light of this, a thorough scientific review of the REDD+ framework, its impacts and its successes in meeting the related goals, is a timely response to the ongoing global discussions. This report titled “Forests, Climate, Biodiversity and People: Assessing a Decade of REDD+” revisits the questions examined in the earlier GFEP assessment, and analyses and synthesises scientific information published and lessons learned since 2012.
... Heavy reliance on agriculture as their main livelihood source despite exposure to livelihood diversification options during REDD+ implies the less internalisation of REDD+ values, which could determine willingness to accept change and face new livelihood challenges. Since the outcomes of community exposure to livelihood options are contingent on the extent that villagers were involved in the processes (Quikc and Brtson 2005;Lawlor et al. 2013). This study questions the legitimacy of these interventions. ...
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In Tanzania, the piloting phase for the Reduced Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation lasted for almost 8 years, between 2008 and 2016. REDD+ pilot projects were implemented to document critical lessons that would inform the development of REDD policy in the country, including the development of REDD strategy and Action Plan that the government endorsed in March 2013. Major thematic areas for piloting were to understand the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, community engagement approaches, alternative livelihoods in the context of REDD+, measurement, reporting and verification of carbon issues in the context of REDD+ and financing questions. In western Tanzania, REDD+ was implemented in the same vein, with several activities employed with the involvement of state and non-state actors. This study evaluated the success and failure of the REDD+ mechanism in the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem to draw lessons for future REDD+ implementation. This study employed a cross-sectional design that applied a mixed methods approach in collecting primary and secondary data, including 528 questionnaires, eight focus group discussions and data from direct observations. Before the REDD+ pilot, results indicate the existence of different forms of forest management, both traditional and modern, with traditional approaches being stricter than conventional and whose strength lost over time. The rise of conventional approaches was to alleviate deforestation that started in the aftermath that necessitated the development and implementation of conservation projects, whereby the REDD+ pilot is credited for stakeholder involvement and awareness creation programmes. However, it was challenging to balance conservation under REDD+ and community socio-economic development to achieve sustainable forest management targets, including alleviating shifting cultivation. The lack of completion of REDD+ activities such as the sale of carbon credits due to its short lifespan was an indication of REDD+ failure to achieve its milestones. Results illustrate further that transparency in planning for benefits distribution among actors, community empowerment, equity and equality and community responsiveness are necessary to foster community participation in SFM processes. Unless the transfer of tenure rights from the government (especially in JFM) to communities surrounding forests, it will be hard for local communities to effectively participate in future SFM activities. Findings highlight the need to clearly define how local communities surrounding forests can sustainably be engaged in management and conservation and benefit from their engagement in such processes.
... Social co-benefits are increasingly emphasized in REDD+ interventions, both to safeguard communities against obvious abuses to economic and social wellbeing (e.g. Brown 2013, Frewer 2021 and to compensate for costs to communities associated with reduced forest clearance . Although there is no precise theory of change as to how social co-benefits are expected to yield reduced deforestation (and enhanced carbon storage (Martius et al 2018)), plausible pathways include users incentivized to protect their forests by security of property rights, control of elite capture, community engagement and empowerment, improved livelihoods and broader environmental justice (Lawlor et al 2013, Salerno et al 2021), acting, in Duchelle et al's (2017 sense, as 'carrots' , or positive incentives for behavioral and institutional change. ...
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The Reduced Emissions in Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiative uses payments for ecosystem services as incentives for developing countries to manage and protect their forests. REDD+ initiatives also prioritize social (and environmental) co-benefits aimed at improving the livelihoods of communities that are dependent on forests. Despite the incorporation of co-benefits into REDD+ goals, carbon sequestration remains the primary metric for which countries can receive payments from REDD+, but after more than ten years of REDD+, many site-specific programs have failed to complete the carbon verification process. Here, we examine whether the REDD+ social co-benefits alone are sufficient to have slowed deforestation in the absence of carbon payments on Pemba, Tanzania. Using satellite imagery (Landsat archive), we quantified forest cover change for the period before (2001-2010) and after (2010-2018) the launch in 2010-11 of Pemba island’s REDD+ Readiness project. We then compared rates of forest cover change between shehia (administrative units) that were part of REDD+ Readiness intervention and those that were not, adjusting for confounding variables and the non-random selection of REDD+ shehia with a statistical matching procedure. Despite considerable variation in forest outcomes among shehia, the associated co-benefits with the Pemba REDD+ project had no discernible effect on forest cover change. Likewise, we did not detect an effect of socioecological covariates on forest cover change across all shehia, though island-wide human population growth since 2012 may have played a role. These findings are unsurprising given the failure to secure carbon payments on Pemba and indicate that co-benefits alone are insufficient to reduce deforestation. We conclude that better oversight of all-involved parties is needed to ensure that REDD+ interventions satisfactorily conclude the process of securing a mechanism for carbon payments, if slowing deforestation is to be achieved.
Payments for environmental services have been popularly used in environmental management and an increasing number of studies assesses their contribution to local livelihoods. This study employs propensity score matching with a dataset of 404 indigenous households in the Central Highlands of Vietnam to evaluate the effect of payments for forest environmental services (PFES) on their livelihoods. Participating in PFES increased households' employment and income from activities related to natural forests. Income from PFES allowed households to enhance productive investment and promote income from cultivation activities. All of this, in turn, increased their annual income, job satisfaction, living expenditures, and reduced the amount of any loan. Additionally, PFES enhanced opportunities to participate in training courses and traditional community activities. This confirms that PFES is not only a good initiative for forest management but also a livelihood policy for communities.
Understanding the mutual logic between environment and poverty mitigation is vital for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This study conducts a bibliometric review of the available literature on environmental degradation and poverty and summarizes the existing researches. By applying suitable keywords, we retrieved 175 peer-reviewed articles from the Web of Science published between 1993 and 2020. We utilized the visualization of similarity viewer (VOSviewer) for this bibliometric study and classified the leading publications, prominent journals, and institutions. Furthermore, our bibliometric review found a phenomenon in investigation that people are indifference about the impact of environmental degradation on rising poverty levels in poor and developing countries. In terms of contributions, this study classifies 4 leading thematic clusters that identify how environmental degradation increases poverty. By employing text mining analysis, this research connects specific environmental terms accountable for the recent rise in global poverty. We finally recommend that including other databases to strengthen the findings of environmental degradation and poverty is one of the future research directions.
Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) is an innovation policy in forest resource management in Vietnam since it was applied in 2011 nationwide. This paper is a case study assessing the impact of PFES policy in Muong Nhe Protected Area (MNPA), Dien Bien Province. The study surveyed 350 households in MNPA buffer zone communes combined with in-depth interviews with key informants. The results show that the impacts of PFES policy on local communities are very large, contributing to increasing incomes for local ethnic minorities, eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable forest management and protection, raising people's awareness about forest conservation, and contributing to the construction of local public facilities. However, the benefit-sharing mechanism from PFES is not transparent. Local people have little voice in decisions about benefit-sharing and monitoring the allocation of funds from PFES. PFES also encountered some technical problems in its implementation. The study made some suggestions to the PFES system at MNPA, focusing on enhancing the role of the community in benefit sharing and monitoring of PFES implementation, building a participatory PFES assessment and monitoring mechanism, accelerating the allocation of forest land use rights to community, and application of a trading mechanism for other types of environmental services such as landscape beauty and carbon sequenstration.
There is a wide range of potential factors directly and indirectly influencing the decision of households participating in Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD⁺) programs. These potential factors can be grouped into characteristics of household heads, household characteristics, awareness of households on REDD+ program, and REDD+ policies factors. In this study, a survey conducted of 250 households (including 125 households participating and 125 non-participants in REDD+ program) in Ban Cam commune, Bao Thang district, Lao Cai province (150 households); and in Muong Phang commune, Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province (100 households), Vietnam. Binary logistic regression was used to identify key factors that significantly affect the decisions of households participating in REDD⁺ programs in the study area. Six key factors influencing household participation in REDD⁺ programs in the study area were identified, namely ethnicity, forestland area, educational level of household head, concern about forest degradation, equal distribution of government payment, and understanding of benefit on REDD⁺. The findings of this research provide implications for solution development, with the aim being to encourage participation of local households in REDD⁺ programs in the study area.
Technical Report
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This second annual State of the Forest Carbon Markets tracks, reports, and analyzes trends in global transactions of emissions reductions generated from forest carbon projects. The information in this report is primarily based on data collected from respondents to Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2010 forest carbon project developer’s survey, combined with data from the 2009 State of the Forest Carbon Market Report and the 2011 State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report. The data and analysis that follow cover forest carbon activity in compliance carbon markets—such as under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS), and the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme (NSW GGAS)—as well as voluntary carbon markets—such as the voluntary Over-the-Counter (OTC) market and the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). In total, we captured responses from 161 project developers or project proponents in the primary forest carbon market and 48 suppliers in the secondary market covering 412 individual forest carbon projects.
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A recent policy response to halting global forest deforestation and degradation, and any resulting greenhouse gas emissions is REDD+, which also includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Although still in its infancy, the success of REDD+ will depend significantly on whether it can be economically viable and if any resulting payments are sufficient to cover the opportunity cost plus any transaction cost. Where tenure security over forest is weak, REDD+ can pose a risk for forest communities, who could be dispossessed, excluded and marginalized. This review of existing studies explores how payment for avoided deforestation, and forest tenure impact the success of REDD+ projects in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and equity. Effectiveness refers to the difference between deforestation with and without REDD+, efficiency refers to avoiding deforestation at minimal cost, and equity refers to the implication of REDD+ on benefit sharing. We conclude that the potential success or failure of REDD+ as a means to reduce deforestation and carbon emission on forest commons depends critically on designing projects that work within existing informal tenure institutions to ensure that carbon storage benefits align with livelihood benefits.