Despite challenges and controversy surrounding the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), there is no denying that the mechanism has set in motion structures and processes on which climate change regimes can build on both at the national and international levels. For Indonesia, there is evidence that the REDD+ initiative has had considerable impact on forest governance.
For any country, developing an institutional framework on forest governance that incorporates and seamlessly coordinates activities between various sectors and stakeholders with varying interests and ideas can be quite a challenge. In most developing countries like Cameroon, this challenge seems to be compounded by other factors such as dependency on international actors and power concentration at the national level.
Cameroon is endowed with a dense tropical rainforest part of the Congo Basin. This natural resource is estimated to cover about 42% of the country’s total land area and bodes environmental, as well as socio-economic benefits for the country, particularly for indigenous forest-dependent communities. But the forest is threatened by high rates of deforestation, and degradation.
Ultimately, success in conservation efforts largely depends on decisions and actions by communities that live in and benefit from different ecosystem services.
Climate Smart Territories (CSTs) are social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use and engaging in activities to both stop/prevent further emissions and also adapt to climate change effects. This calls for collective efforts within a highly organized society.
The global agenda is turning its attention to landscape restoration initiatives. Visions have been set, such as the objective of Land Degradation Neutrality championed through the UNCCD at Rio+20.
Targets have been defined, including the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020. The new challenge now is how will these landscape restoration initiatives be realized?
The success to a landscape approach results from its ability to perform various functions and meet multiple objectives by exploring opportunities to link and create synergy between different actors. For a climate-smart landscape, this involves addressing climate change alongside other environmental or social objectives.