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What is needed to make REDD+ work on the ground? Lessons learned from pilot forest carbon initiatives

This paper analyzes the experience of 12 pilot forest carbon initiatives to provide preliminary insights into what will be needed to make REDD+ work on the ground.

The pilot initiatives were taken from nine countries (five REDD+ pilot initiatives, and seven reforestation activities), in which Conservation International (CI) has been involved as a partner. The 12 initiatives analyzed include reforestation activities in Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Madagascar and the Philippines, and sitescale, pilot REDD+ initiatives in Brazil, Guatemala, Madagascar, Mexico and Peru.

Located in nine countries and spanning the Asian, Latin American and African regions, these initiatives represent a broad range of geographic, socioeconomic and biophysical conditions and provide a unique opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities of implementing forest carbon initiatives in different contexts. All 12 initiatives are in their initial stages of design and / or implementation, and provide a window into the early challenges that efforts to implement REDD+ will likely face.

The analysis is focused on five main issues that will be critical for success:

  1. Creating effective on-the-ground partnerships and capacity;
  2. Ensuring that forest carbon initiatives are backed by rigorous technical and scientific analyses;
  3. Attracting the needed financial resources for development;
  4. Successfully engaging stakeholders in project design and implementation; and
  5. Ensuring active government support to field activities.

For each of these issues, there is an overview of how the 12 forest carbon initiatives have dealt with these issues, and highlighted challenges and opportunities encountered from the perspective of the project managers and partners involved. In addition, key recommendations are provided for field managers of forest carbon initiatives, as well as to policy makers on how to ensure these activities result in effective on-the-ground emissions reductions.

The analysis is based on the results of detailed surveys and interviews of project partners and managers, field visits to eight project sites, an expert workshop of approximately 30 CI project managers, as well as detailed analyses of individual case studies.

Read What is needed to make REDD+ work on the ground? Lessons learned from pilot forest carbon initiatives.