ecosystem

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2014.905440

Can REDD+, PES and other payments prevent destruction and degradation of our ecosystems?

By Elizabeth Kahurani

Markets can only be a part of the solution to reversing unacceptable levels of deforestation and forest degradation, according to research from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “Looking at the whole system and all available options remains the only guarantee, and this means taking a landscape perspective,” according to Dr Ravi Prabhu, Director of Research at ICRAF, who was speaking at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013.Dr Ravi Prabhu (left), Director of Research at ICRAF, with other panelists at a side event of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn on June 5th 2013

Dr Ravi defined a landscape as a mosaic of agriculture, forests, plantations with competitions, trade-offs and synergies between land uses. At this level, there are also multiple sectors, stakeholders and practices. Given that the system is so dynamic, he pointed to multifunctional co-investment mechanisms as necessary means of embracing local people, private and public sectors, PES bundling and stacking as options.

In other words, success was more likely if the needs and interests of all the actors who mattered were taken into account and a framework was set up to allow them to jointly invest finances, time and resources in the landscape in order to derive the values they were looking for. Although this would involve compromises and negotiation, a more diverse and therefore resilient system was likely to result.

The event, hosted by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), focused discussions on a report on non-market based approaches to reducing deforestation and forest degradation submitted to SBSTA by GFC.

According to the report, indigenous communities have always preserved and protected their forests not just for the economic value they derive from them but also for important cultural and spiritual functions. According to the report, there is evidence to show that areas protected by communities are more likely to survive deforestation and negative environment extractions as opposed to areas protected through other means of control such as government bans. As such, empowering communities to manage their forests remains the best option from efforts to protect the ecosystem while promoting livelihoods. But how?

Debates and negotiations have centered on market approaches such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Essentially these approaches are based on a financial compensation to forest users for the opportunity costs of more ‘destructive’ land-use forms based on a market price for the goods in question, e.g. water or tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition warns that approaches based on such market mechanisms should be approached with caution as they could present a higher risk to communities particularly with regard to efficiency and equity. Besides, she argues, political and financial commitments do not match these policy frameworks. “For instance, so far, the carbon market has only realized less than 1% of the anticipated REDD+ funding. Financial constraints therefore bring in the issue of who receives funding, who is going to be paid for what and more often than not it is not the individual households that benefit,” said Simone while speaking at the UNFCCC side event.

She noted that there is need to pay attention to non-market based approaches that ensure recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous people and local communities. These should empower communities by also promoting local knowledge and information systems as well as policies for legal and financial support on land reforms, sustainable agriculture and that discourage destructive activities like logging. “Such means of empowering communities to protect their environment ensures sustainability as they do not rely on unpredictable and uncertain funding flows,” said Simone.

A landscape approach takes into account needs and interests of all the actors who matter especially local communitiesPresenting evidence from ICRAF’s work on environmental services, Dr Ravi used results from research sites in Southeast Asia and Africa to explain some of the PES related challenges especially on issues to do with equity and efficiency (see presentation on Slideshare). He emphasized the need for a comprehensive systematic approach, one that can leverage on best options available from various approaches and deliver on securing livelihoods for communities and ecosystem services. “Looking at the whole system is the only guarantee, and this means having a landscape perspective,” explained Ravi. He emphasized that a market price or opportunity costs based approach generally underestimated the full value of the forests, focused as they were on a particular good or service.

He concluded with the message that agroforestry systems can deliver both market and non-market benefits in ways that empower local communities to ensure sustainability.

Read about our work on Landscape approaches to REDD+

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