Developing REDD+ schemes must consider the implications of uncertainty and scale

Maps of tree cover that were used for developing schemes to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation have errors. It’s all about scale and pixels, say Betha Lusiana and colleagues

By Robert Finlayson

The ability of any scheme to meet its national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+) requires understanding how its processes are linked across scales, from local through provincial to national and international levels. A single approach to reduce deforestation that is effective for a project in several villages might not be as effective at an aggregated level, such as a district.

Accordingly, scale must be addressed in REDD+ schemes, including highly technical activities such as satellite mapping of vegetation cover. This is a critical feature, since knowing how the amount of carbon stock in the form of vegetation, of what type, and how it changes over time determines payments to local people for preserving, adding to, or depleting the stock.

Having a good carbon map is important for being able to monitor carbon being sequestered or emitted over time. For incentive schemes, having a map that fits closely to the reality on the ground is also important. Developing emission maps requires information in the form of land-cover maps and aboveground carbon stocks for every land-use type in the landscape. However, both types of information have errors and uncertainty.  For example, when looking at a satellite image, rubber agroforests can be visually mistaken for natural forests (even in the field it can be difficult for untrained eyes to tell them apart) and the amount of carbon stock in each type of tree cover can vary substantially, which means that when changes to the stock are monitored and aligned with payments for preservation, enhancement or reduction of said stock, there could be large errors and hence incorrect payments.

To address this, we set out to identify an appropriate resolution for mapping carbon stock in a REDD+ scheme. This work was part of a study we conducted—discussed more fully in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change—to design effective emission-reduction activities in Tanjung Jabung Barat (a high-emission district in Jambi province, Indonesia) that can be implemented by the district government.

The study of resolution accuracy involved two steps. First, we developed emission maps for the district that identified changes in aboveground carbon stocks between 2000 and 2009. The maps included calculations that allowed for uncertainty caused by errors in land-cover-map classifications and the variation of carbon, representing the many possible carbons stored in a similar-size plot of a given type of vegetation. Second, we calculated estimates of emissions based on various resolutions from the maps developed in step 1.

From this process, we were able to propose an appropriate scale for monitoring emissions from land-use changes: for anThe effect of scale on hot spots of carbon emissions in Tanjung Jabung Barat, Jambi, Indonesia, between 2000 and 2009. Pixel resolution of 100 m equals pixel area of 1 ha and pixel resolution of 1000 m equals pixel area of 1 km2. Source: World Agroforestacceptable error of 5% (to put it another way: 95% accuracy), planners should use an emissions map with pixel resolution of 1000 m, equal to a pixel size of 1 km2.

We compared this with a map developed by planners in Tanjung Jabung Barat, who had been involved in a participatory planning process with communities, businesses and government agencies to come up with ways of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and found that the schemes they had in mind would be served well by a map with resolution of 1 km2.

Read the article

Lusiana B, van Noordwijk M, Johana F, Galudra G, Suyanto, Cadisch G. 2014.Implications of uncertainty and scale in carbon emission estimates on locally appropriate designs to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+). Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Framework to identify mitigation-adaptation synergy potential

Study develops an analytical framework of enabling conditions necessary for synergies between mitigation and adaptation

By Elizabeth Kahurani

The new IPCC report calls for “sustainable-development trajectories that combine adaptation and mitigation to reduce climate change and its impacts."

Indeed, it is becoming more apparent that linking mitigation and adaptation is a more effective and efficient approach to climate change. Discussions at UN climate talks are heavy on the benefits of synergy; and climate finance mechanisms are increasingly looking for projects with linkages to both.

A field extension officer (middle) explains cacao agroforestry farming methods in Cameroon. Findings of a new study show that in developing countries, institutional setup is an area with strong potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptationGiven that initial framing has had the two elements working in parallel, there is need to identify where there exists strong potential to actualize harmony needed to optimize strengths and benefits of mitigation and adaptation approaches.

In a journal paper titled “A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries” published in Environmental Science and Policy, Dr Lalisa Duguma and  his colleagues from the ASB Partnership have developed an analytical framework within which they explore four conditions necessary for integrating mitigation and adaptation. These are: i) policies and strategies ii) institutional arrangement iii) Financing iv) Programs and projects.

“After a comprehensive review of publications on climate change integration, particularly those on mitigation and adaptation, it was clear that these four conditions are crucial for countries to move towards synergy,” says Dr Duguma.

The four conditions were examined using eight indicators (see table below) to score the synergy potential of 53 developing countries that were selected based on national communications submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Overall, the countries had strongest potential for synergy between mitigation and adaptation on institution setup, mainly because countries had committees to work on national level climate change strategies and also to participate and ensure compliance to mutual climate agreements and submissions to international conventions. Moreover, two thirds of the countries surveyed had programs dealing with both mitigation and adaptation.

The countries were found to be weak on the potential to finance both strategies simultaneously and to develop policies. “This weak link in potential could be because most of these countries are in the early stages of developing policies on climate change and normally funding/budget allocation is informed by already existing policies. Moreover, majority of these countries are almost entirely dependent on multilateral funding, most of which is given for mitigation activities,” explains Susan Wambugu, a co-author in the study.

A comparative assessment between the countries showed interesting variations, with middle-income countries having strong potential to synergy. “Other studies that we have done show that these fast growing economies exhibit strong potential for synergy as they want to boost their image to be seen as responsible global citizens; also to maintain credibility and attract more climate funding,” says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk who was part of the study. Strong potential was also identified with countries exposed to high climate change vulnerability such as the small island states. “Having been among the most affected by climate change already, these countries have no much option but to take on adaptation even as they implement mitigation approaches,” Dr vanNoordwijk explains.

Other least developed countries had a weak potential score for synergy. According to the authors, this is contrary to expectations given that they are also among high climate risk countries and they are strong proponents for adaptation in international policy debates. However, the study is quick to point out that limited large-scale programs within which they implement climate objectives could explain the tendency seen in these countries.

Further analysis of the synergy score against development and environmental indices such as GDP, Human Development Index, and Environmental Performance Index (EPI) confirm the findings of the study. “Among the countries studied, Indonesia and Jamaica are exceptional on this assessment. Indonesia for example has an independent body reporting directly to the office of the president. Such institutional measures with political will and commitment have largely contributed to a high EPI score for the country,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the study co-authors. “ A similar trend is seen among least developed countries, with countries like Malawi and Ghana emerging with strong synergy potential scores in an environment where the governments have made deliberate efforts to integrate development and climate strategies,” he says.

As climate change discussions focus on ways to generate meaningful impact from actions to deal with the challenge, this framework and evidence presented is among pioneer studies that governments and practitioners could benefit from in an endeavor to gain lost opportunities from the previous siloed approach to mitigation and adaptation and embrace far more beneficial avenues of a synergy approach.

“With the push for global climate communities towards synergies between mitigation and adaptation measures in order to effectively address climate change, it is important that the necessary enabling conditions be known and made to use. This paper is therefore the first attempt to come up with such key elements to promote synergies particularly from developing countries context” Says Dr. Duguma. 


Enabling conditions with their respective indicators used to determine countries’ synergy potentials 

Enabling conditions

Indicators used for each of the enabling conditions for synergy

Policies and Strategies

Does the country have a climate policy that addresses both M+A?


Is there a common climate strategy/action plan for both M+A?


Has the country submitted NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions)/REDD+


R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) and/or NAPA to the UNFCCC?

Institutional arrangements

Is there a national-level committee addressing both M+A


Is there an implementing body (institution/agency/department/unit) addressing M+A together?

Financing (Funds)

Is there a climate fund for both M+A?

Programs and projects

Is there a joint program addressing M+A?


Are there subnational projects addressing both M+A



Available on open access

Duguma, L. A., Wambugu, S. W., Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M. (2014) A systematic analysis of enabling conditions for synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.Environmental Science & Policy 42 (2014) 138-148.


The role of migrants in land arrangements and deforestation

Internal migrants in Indonesia have shifted land arrangements, resulting in both social and ecological damage: land conflicts increase along with deforestation. This complex relationship has been underplayed in the REDD debate, say Gamma Galudra, Meine van Noordwijk, Putra Agung, Suyanto and Ujjwal Pradhan

By Masayu Vinanda

Conflicting claims over land ownership have occurred in most parts of Indonesia, according to Gamma Galudra and colleagues, writing in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. They describe one such conflict and its implications for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Senyerang village, Tanjung Jabung Barat district, Jambi province on the island of Sumatra.

Agroforest on peat in Tanjung Jabung Barat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe recent background to the conflict in Senyerang starts in 1997, when the Ministry of Forestry granted a permit for a pulp-and-paper company to expand its concession area. About 1500 people—long-settled migrants from other parts of Indonesia—protested over the rights to the land in question, resulting in one person shot dead and two wounded. The migrants argued that the area was their communal land that had been used by the Banjar people since the 1920s. A land licence granted by the pesirah (the chief of the territory), active since the Dutch colonial period, was used as their advocacy tool. However, the company did not stop the conversion and continued planting the area with acacia.

The Senyerang situation clearly demonstrated the tenurial interaction between a group of migrants and a concession-holding company. However, interaction between the migrants and the government institution that issued the permit to the company was also part of the problem. Historical, informal negotiations between the pesirah and the migrants dated back many years and provided a more comprehensive context.

In their study, Galudra and his team analysed relations between four key groups: the state, local communities, migrants and state-sanctioned concession holders in the peat forests of the district to reveal complex, ‘underlying land ownership, power struggles and strategic positioning among stakeholders across scales’.  Those three aspects are crucial to the effectiveness of any REDD scheme in the district, they argued.

Inhabited by approximately 280,000 people, nearly half of the population of the district are migrants from other parts of Indonesia. Practically, the district is divided into two parts: the inland villages on mineral soil inhabited by people from western and northern Sumatra; and the lowland peatland inhabited by Malay people from Riau. Peatland occupies 40% of the district and half of the land is state domain, with the largest area classified as ‘production forest’.

In the 1970s, the Ministry of Agriculture issued concessions to log the forests, leaving behind huge logged-over areas in many parts of the region. These areas were easily accessed, thanks to the roads built for timber extraction, which resulted in further land clearing, particularly for oil-palm and pulp-and-paper plantations. Fifteen years later, the Forest Allotment Consensus provided a stronger legal basis to issue more permits.

‘Both permit regimes marginalized migrants and local communities’, said Galudra. ‘Interaction began between migrants and local communities in the form of land sales. Local communities sold land—to which they might have had customary but not state-sanctioned rights—to groups of migrants who expanded the crop area. Those migrant-controlled areas would sometimes then be occupied by customary landowners who claimed that the land belonged to them. To resolve the conflict, the migrants had to undertake a second transaction, paying extra amounts to the customary landowners’.

Additionally, interaction between migrants and local communities resulted in changing how land was used. For instance, one migrant group, the Banjar, had much experience in clearing and draining peat forests, land which was then transferred to the pesirah (the chief of the territory).

‘The local people of the district lacked this knowledge’, said Galudra, ‘but the Banjar people were able to extend the village’s claims over territory in the peatland. The migrants did this to build a better relationship with the locals. The clearing was seen as an initial investment in easier access for all to use the land’.

Often, an even more complex situation appears when analyzing interactions between migrants and the private sector. Competing claims over land between migrants, local communities and private concessions arose owing to changing policies after decentralization took place, affecting the power relations between the central and local governments. For example, local people and migrants understood that the land they claimed was classified as ‘non-forest area’, a belief justified by such a designation in the District Spatial Plan of 1993. However, private companies believed the area was classified as ‘conversion production forest’ as shown in the records of the central government’s 1985 Forest Allotment Consensus. The conflicting land-use policies have seen an increase in concession permits and the status of forests changed to ‘conversion production forest’ to meet the demand for expansion by the palm-oil and pulp-and-paper industries.

Galudra and team argue that examining the complexities of tenurial interaction—particularly how migrants balance power with local communities, businesses and government authorities at the local level—will help ensure an effective implementation of REDD.

Clear and secure land and forest ownership is required if any progress is to be made. If forest or land tenure insecurity has been resolved, there is no doubt that the benefits or incentives generated from REDD initiatives can then be equally and fairly distributed.

Read the article

Galudra G, van Noordwijk M, Agung P, Suyanto, Pradhan U. 2014. Migrants, land markets and carbon emissions in Jambi, Indonesia: Land tenure change and the prospect of emission reduction. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

 This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry


Dragging a knowledge chain through the peat

Lack of understanding of peat is not the weakest link in the chain, say Meine van Noordwijk and colleagues

By Amy C. Cruz

The high emissions of greenhouse gases from tropical peatlands caused by changing their land use have become a problem for policymakers that they can no longer deny, as their own scientists have now confirmed what external critics told before.

Researchers at the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia are assessing the viability of rubber agroforestry on peat. Photo: World Agroforestry CentreThe emissions need to be reduced to mitigate the effects of climate change but because of the complex issues involved, governments, societies and private businesses are still ‘muddling along’ when it comes to conserving peatlands. The peat models we have so far are as clear as mud.

Given the urgency and political sensitivity, peat and peatlands have become an interesting test ground for understanding the chain that links knowledge with action. Who needs to know, who can act and where is knowledge the weakest link in the chain's limiting action?

Such a ‘knowledge value-chain for peatland conservation’ can trace steps from fundamental understanding of peatlands all the way to multilevel actions towards conservation and reduction of emissions.

‘We found that there are four separate parts of an overall knowledge value-chain concept that links fundamental understanding to action’, said Meine van Noordwijk,  leading a team of authors in a recent publication in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, ‘and there are several weak links that need to be strengthened in a complex chain. Coordinated research and action is needed to achieve positive policy actions and behaviour changes.”

The research team had looked at how people’s understanding, willingness, ability and actions towards peatland conservation have progressed over time. Understanding peat and its processes was the first section in the value chain, including the fundamental point of agreeing on the definitions of ‘peat’ and ‘peatland’ so that they can be correctly identified and assigned more attention, if necessary.

Towards this, different studies had been carried out to develop more accurate ways of quantifying and attributing emissions from peatlands and yet there was still room for improvement, especially because peatlands are variable by nature, making it hard to ensure accurate measurements. In addition, different land uses on peat also result in differences in emissions.

‘Hard science may seem easy compared to what it takes to get a globally agreed set of default values that can be used for transparent emissions’ accounting’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

The second section of the chain is the willingness to act to reduce emissions. For example, in the past, policymakers could not ignore the problem of smoke haze caused by peatland conversion because its effect on visibility was too obvious. Conversion without use of fire seemed an acceptable alternative. The invisible carbon emissions from the conversion and drainage itself could be ignored. However, when emission estimates, mostly from peat drainage and fires, identified Indonesia as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases there were hardly any Indonesian scientists who had experience and data to challenge or corroborate the claims.

‘Now that weak link has been strengthened, as is evident by the four papers by Indonesian scientists in the REDD-ALERT special issue. Indonesian policymakersnow acknowledge the importance of reducing emissions from peatland as part of the broader debate’, said Dr van Noordwijk.

But willingness to act is not enough. Third, relevant authorities need to be able to influence companies and people to actually reduce emissions. While peatland conversion appeared to be attractive to companies because it brought less conflict with local people and their land-right claims than conversion elsewhere, peatland use now gives oil-palm companies a bad name internationally and potentially affects their sales. Where the long process of issuing permits has already started, however, it is not easy for a local government to stop the conversion and reverse permits. Players at this level need to be aware of how emission reductions are calculated and valued. Local governments need to secure jobs and revenue, so alternative scenarios need to meet their expectations.

The fourth section of the chain is formed by farmers and their communities living in or near peatlands. Slowing current conversion and redirecting land-use changes without alternatives that provide improved livelihoods for local people is not attractive for any policymaker.

‘There are not yet sufficiently viable, alternative uses of peatlands that do not contribute to higher emissions but provide for local incomes and livelihoods’, said Dr van Noordwijk. ‘Thus, the primary focus for this section of the chain needs to be on testing and improving the various locally developed solutions, such as agroforestry involving locally adapted trees for which a market exists’.

Looking over the whole length of the knowledge chain, Dr van Noordwijk and colleagues conclude that progress has been made in the first three sections but peatland countries, such as Indonesia, and international supporters now have to focus on improving the fourth section. 

‘If good science, accurate numbers, a willingness and ability to act on emission estimates are not accompanied by viable alternatives for local livelihoods then the ultimate goal of reducing emissions cannot be achieved,’ conclude Dr van Noordwijk and the research team.

Read the article

Van Noordwijk M, Matthews R, Agus F, Farmer J, Verchot L, Hergoualc’h K, Persch S, Tata HL, Khasanah N, Widayati A, Dewi S. 2014. Mud, muddle and models in the knowledge value-chain to action on tropical peatland conservation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).

This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry





Womens decisions can lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions

Decisions by women can lead to more changes in land use because of their willingness to accept offers from outsiders. To avoid deforestation, the value of natural ecosystems needs to be instilled

By Tess Beyer

Indonesia is the world’s third largest producer of greenhouse gas, with 85% of its emissions coming from the destruction of natural forests, the main driver of which in the 21st century is industrial-scale, export-oriented agriculture, such as palm-oil producing monocultures.

Women’s land-use decisions might increase greenhouse-gas emissions. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Noviana KhususiyahThe conversion of forests to other land uses typically has dramatic effects not only on the landscape but on the lives of humans who interacted with the forest. Those effects can be different for men and women and could lead to more greenhouse-gas emissions if women make the decisions, according to a study by Grace Villamor and colleagues in the forest margins of the province of Jambi on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

‘Changing a landscape alters the roles of the humans who have previously related to it in perhaps traditional ways developed over generations’, said Dr Villamor, ‘including various rights of use, which can be different for men and women’.

To help contextualise the recent changes in Sumatran land use and cover, the role gender played was examined. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know what influence a person’s gender had on the willingness to adopt alternative land uses. They used role-play games with local residents to assess their responses to new land-use opportunities, some of which might increase, rather than decrease, the emission of greenhouse gases.

Divided into men-only and women-only groups, the games showed that rapid land-use change occurred when women responded positively to external investors and in doing so out-performed men in meeting income targets. Women managed to negotiate bids up to three times higher than the set price for changing land uses to more profitable ones, such as converting higher carbon-stocked old rubber agroforests to lower carbon-stocked oil-palm plantations. This occurred even more rapidly when faced with shocks or stressors, such as forest fires, population increases and fluctuations in commodity prices.

Further, women from upland areas perceived rubber agroforests as economically superior to natural forests because they provided both conservation and financial benefits. In their eyes (in the context of the game), changing forests to agroforests carried no perceived environmental or income risks.

On the other hand, in the game the men from upland areas left their forests intact. This conservation perspective was probably shaped by the value of timber they collected plus a strong sense of stewardship formed during their long association with various organisations, such as the World Agroforestry Centre.

In the game, the men often made use of a double subsidy from a non-governmental organization and a government agricultural agency to conserve their agroforests. They used the subsidies throughout the game to continuously add to their agroforestry allotment.

This conservation perspective held true for men from the lowlands as well, who had witnessed the reality of mining degrading the environment without providing long-term wealth. Because of this, most were reluctant at first to deal in the game with an agent representing a coal mine.

For Dr Villamor and colleagues, it was clear from the results of the game that the women’s chosen pathways of land-use changes would lead to substantial carbon losses and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Extrapolating from this, if women were to have greater involvement in landscape-level decision-making then activities might be necessary that built awareness of the value of ecosystem services. Women’s established skills as entrepreneurs and traders of goods and services from forests and agroforests could also be developed in a positive direction that supported the conservation of treed landscapes.

According to the researchers, more explicit attention should be paid to the different responses offered by men and women of drivers of both deforestation and conservation.

Any government program that aims to modify land-use decisions needs to adopt a gender-balanced approach. Environmental protection cannot thrive unless women and men both see the net benefit.


Read the article

Villamor GB, Desrianti F, Akiefnawati R, Amaruzaman S, van Noordwijk M. 2013. Gender influences decisions to change land use practices in the tropical forest margins of Jambi, Indonesia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19(6).


This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Is REDD working for the poor in Kenya?

REDD is globally supported as a cost-effective mitigation option for developing countries to achieve mitigation and sustainable socioeconomic development. But is REDD pro-poor simply because it targets developing countries? A recent study seeking to answer this question was recently published in Applied Geography under the authorship of Joanes Atela and Peter Minang both of ASB-Partnerships for the Tropical forest Margin. The study draws evidence from Kenya to show how vulnerability linked to poverty, influences the spatial choices of REDD project investors and analyses the factors that might influence the ability of communities to access REDD investments.

The study found that a majority of REDD projects in Kenya are hosted in relatively low-vulnerability areas where socioeconomic conditions favour the interests of for-profit project developers. The study provides food for thought for the UNFCCC debates on REDD that have, over time, coined a generic notion that REDD is pro-poor simply because it targets developing countries, Therefore beyond the ‘developing country’ tag, business interest ensues and this interest conflicts the pro-poor notion of a ‘global REDD’ potentially denying relatively vulnerable communities, with mitigation potential, a chance to participate and benefit from REDD funds.  

The study acknowledges the ease of implementing REDD in less vulnerable areas but also reveals that vulnerable areas such as dry-land ecosystems, with mitigation potential, may present some opportunities for REDD in terms of enhanced recognition of impact and low opportunity. Thereby by directing REDD funds to relatively vulnerable areas, projects and national REDD policies are likely to enhance synergies between mitigation and adaptation’.

The study suggests that REDD should adopt a pro-active approach to implementation in which projects do not only target to benefit from existing well developed systems but also aim to streamline resource governance in relatively vulnerable settings.

The study specifically recommends that emerging concepts such as reducing emission from all land uses (REALU) and the landscape approach provide opportunities for vulnerable communities to access REDD funds/projects and create synergies between mitigation and adaptation

The full reference to the article is: Atela, J. O., Quinn, C. H., & Minang, P. A. (2014). Are REDD projects pro-poor in their spatial targeting? Evidence from Kenya. Applied Geography52, 14-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.04.009.

The article is available online at


Why rural energy issues matter for climate change mitigation, food production and living conditions for women?

By Judith Nzyoka

Due to firewood scarcity in Ethiopia, rural farmers use cattle dung as an energy source.  In a recent study published in Energy for Sustainable development, scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins explore the impacts of fuel usage patterns of a community living next to the Menagesha Suba state forest, Ethiopia and the implications for food crop production, forest regeneration and community level emission reduction potential.

Using a set of mixed methods including the UNFCCC protocols,  significant fuel reductions were detected for switching from the open-fire three-stone stove used in the study community, to three stoves with improved efficiency and one solar stove. These fuel reductions ranged from 159–1500 tonne (t) year-1 with 174–1856 t carbon dioxide equivalent year-1 in emission reductions potentials.

“Such fuel reductions could save women significant time in firewood collection of up to 302 hours per year per household, explains Dr Lalisa Duguma’, lead author of the study. However, if the annual amount of cattle dung burned in the study community was applied as fertilizer instead, it has the potential increase crop production that can meet the annual cereal demand of 45–63 farmer households, thus has great potential to increase food crop productivity,” he says.

Fig 1: System interactions in the Menagesha Suba area focusing on the links between forest, energy needs, food crop production and climate change (Duguma et al. 2014)

From the study he continues to explain that decreasing fuel demand by enhancing energy use efficiency can not only help to relieve pressure on firewood resources, but also increase food security as there could be more readily available labour from women to engage in crop production activities. In addition, relieved pressure on firewood resources could allow more litterfall to decompose on the forest floor that could promote forest regeneration through increased nutrient cycling. 

According to the paper, “the two most limiting soil nutrients in the Ethiopian context; nitrogen and phosphorus were extracted from the state forest for firewood purposes (1.0 t nitrogen and 0.04 t phosphorous annually). This inefficient use of firewood and cattle dung in the community has resulted in negative feedback cycles” (See Fig 1).


Measures to escape these cycles are suggested including; the use of improved stoves. The study further emphasizes on the shifts in current practices to break this cycle, such as enhancing fire wood supply through planting trees on farms and farm boundaries, improving soil fertility, improving energy use efficiency and enabling access to carbon financing for the emission reduced through such efforts.

This article is available from: Duguma Lalisa, Minang P, Freeman O and Hager H. 2014. System wide impacts of fuel usage patterns in the Ethiopian highlands: potentials for breaking the negative reinforcing feedback cycles. Energy for Sustainable Development 20:77-85. DOI:10.1016/j.esd.2014.03.004   

To link to this article:  

Innovative framework for assessing country REDD+ Readiness

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins have developed an innovative, universally applicable framework for assessing REDD+ Readiness.

In a new study titled, REDD+ Readiness progress across countries: time for Reconsideration they take a first step towards conducting readiness assessment in four (4) countries in order to develop a set of criteria that can be used for similar process in other countries. The Scientists further conducted a comparative analysis between these countries – Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam; an important step that revealed disparities and offers shared lessons, challenges and experiences. Workshop analysis of the historical deforestation maps for Ucayali. There is need for a rethink of the current REDD+ Readiness infrastructure given the serious gaps observed in addressing drivers of deforestation

“Before, there were only three cases of country REDD+ progress documented and criteria used were specific to the countries studied. It therefore would be inconsistent if the same method were applied elsewhere, explains Dr Peter Minang’, lead author of the study. “As such, this study is potentially ground breaking because it is the first time such a framework has been applied uniformly across countries (note that the world bank has recently developed a framework but that has not been applied in this way),” he says.

The framework provides a criteria of six functions; i) Planning and coordination; ii) Policies, laws, and institutions; iii) Monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and audit; iv) Financing and investment; v) Benefit sharing; and, vi) Demonstrations and pilots. The functions are divided further into nine sub-functions, and given 29 corresponding indicators that can be used to check and assess readiness at country level. (See details in the paper)

The criteria were derived from a process of reviewing guidelines and requirements provided to countries through mutually agreed multilateral systems of the UN-REDD and the World Bank FCPF; UNFCCC agreements; among other secondary literature. It was applied in a comparative study analysis through interviews, literature review and developing a set of indicators in scaled units from which numerical representation was drawn up to show how the four countries performed on the different functions. Attempts were made to establish how national circumstances influenced performance.

Countries varied on how they scored on the different functions, although all showed progress on planning and coordination as well as on demonstration and pilots. “Other areas including MRV and audits; financing, benefit sharing; policies, laws and institutions face major challenges,” says Dr Minang.

Progress was largely determined by national circumstance of the country and forest governance history. For example, Indonesia scored highest on policy, legal, and institutional frameworks; an outcome that corresponds with the Environmental Performance Index conducted to evaluate governance systems and political will towards conservation efforts. The readiness process place emphasis on the national level but there is need to focus on the subnational level as operations here determine success at the national and international levels.

“The study identified lack of policies that address drivers of deforestation and/or incentives to be a major weakness in the Readiness process”, says Dr Meine vanNoordwijk, one of the study co-authors,  “which makes it hard to achieve the overall goal of reducing emissions from deforestation.

According to the paper, “there is need for a rethink of the current REDD+ Readiness infrastructure given the serious gaps observed in addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, linking REDD+ to broader national strategies and systematic capacity building.”

The study is a synthesis article in a journal special issue published in Climate Policy.

Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project: Lessons for national readiness processes

Tremendous growth in REDD+ pilot and demonstration projects has been observed following the Bali Action Plan and Cancun agreements. The question is, how can lessons from such projects be used to enhance national-level REDD+ Readiness processes?

A recent study published in Climate Policy draws on the example of a case study from Kenya – the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project – and attempts to shed light on how this subnational-level private-sector-driven REDD+ project interacts with and contributes to national-level technical, policy, and institutional readiness for REDD+. The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities

“The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project led by Wildlife Works Carbon was chosen from among many projects in Kenya and Africa because it is the world’s first registered REDD+ project issued with Verified Carbon Units under the Verified Carbon Standard and is one of the few REDD+ projects currently selling REDD+ credits on the voluntary market,” explains Florence Bernard, Associate Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre and study lead author.

From the study, she explains a number of key innovations brought by the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, including demonstration that REDD+ has potential for implementation in dryland forests. “This is likely to be a strong incentive for Kenya and other countries to initiate projects in other dryland forest ecosystems,” says Florence Bernard.

According to Bryan Adkins, Director of Regional Engagement at Wildlife Works Carbon and co-author of the paper, the project has managed to bundle up REDD+ implementation with community-level employment opportunities, something that has informed the design of strategy options for addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation while strengthening community engagement and prioritizing ‘pro-poor’ REDD+ activities at the national level. “In addition, there exists a transparent benefit distribution disbursement process for carbon-derived revenues in Kasigau, on which the national level could capitalize,” says Bryan Adkins. 

Another key successful feature of the Kasigau Corridor project was the ability of Wildlife Works Carbon to negotiate upfront investments with external private sector and therefore secure start-up capital needed for initial project implementation and operational costs. “While this private sector finance model might be of further interest at the project level, this should also urge the national level on attracting further private-sector investments in REDD+ pilots and demonstrations projects, especially at a time of public finance shortage for Readiness and REDD+ in general, as well as on promoting a more attractive investment climate for private sector ” explains Florence Bernard.

While the national REDD+ Readiness process in Kenya is beginning to learn and draw from local level projects through such private sector project lens, dialogue with and between partners is crucial in order not to miss out on potential benefits from interactions with subnational-level actors.

The study further emphasizes the need for developing frameworks and modalities for stakeholder participation, a robust private sector engagement process, and platforms for cross linkages at different levels.

The article is available under open access: Florence Bernard, Peter A. Minang, Bryan Adkins & Jeremy T. Freund (2014): REDD+ projects and national-level Readiness processes: a case study from Kenya, Climate policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2014.905440

To link to this article:

Peru: Ministry of Environment work with ASB partners to evaluate methodology for low emissions development planning

By Glenn Hyman and Valentina Robiglio

A lot of research and development deals with different aspects of reducing emissions from forest degradation and deforestation (REDD+). But how can we really get change on the ground? Last week collaborators of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins presented an approach to low emissions development planning to the Directorate of Land Use Planning and the National Forest Conservation Program, Programa Bosques, of the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) in a three days demonstration workshop.

William Llactayo of MINAM opened the

The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) and involved researchers from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Participants from the various directorates of the MINAM were trained in the Land-Use Planning for Low Emission Development Strategies (LUWES) methodology, which consists of the development of future land use and zoning scenarios and the calculation of the impacts of land use change on greenhouse gas emissions. Working in groups and using ABACUS software,  they combined information on land-use, carbon stocks and profitability for land-use systems in the Ucayali  region where research on this topic has been carried out by the ASB partners over several years. The results included an analysis of opportunity costs of avoided deforestation, estimates of CO2 emissions under different scenarios and the calculation of a reference emissions levels for REDD+.  

MINAM is now evaluating the possibility of implementing this methodology in their land-use planning processes. Given that every region of the country has a mandate to create land-use plans, this process could be a vehicle for including considerations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of other ecosystem services in development plans.  The expectation is that efforts to reduce emissions can be more efficient if they are connected to land-use planning processes. Read in Spanish

Working groups discussed low emissions

Syndicate content